+ Development, tourist attractions would be an ‘error’ in Parkway East
Recently, the city of Palm Coast invited residents on the east side of town to a community workshop about the future development of our quiet, residential neighborhood. They had yet another out-of-town consultant with a slick PowerPoint to tell us what the future would bring. Then they dropped a bombshell.
Let me back up. A few months ago, the same consultants had another meeting to ask residents what they liked about our neighborhood. Everyone was enthusiastic. As residents, we love the old-growth oak trees, the canopy along the parkway, the deer and birds that populate the undergrowth. We love skating, biking and dolphin spotting along the Intracoastal Waterway. We love kayaking and boating and fishing. We love bumping into friends along the shady trails while walking with our kids and dogs. We love the flourishing golf course.
After listening (carefully or cynically?) to residents’ desires to preserve the natural wonders and recreation opportunities that are elemental to our community, here’s what was proposed: Construct 600 to 700 new condos and the requisite paved parking lots or garages. They neglected to mention the 100-plus units already approved at the corner of Clubhouse and Palm Harbor.
They said the new buildings would range from three to five stories tall. I actually heard some in the audience gasp at the five-story mention. That’s a lot taller than an oak tree by my measure. They even suggested a noise-polluting zip-line, complete with screaming tourists, adjacent to the peaceful trails of Linear Park. Really?
When asked what would be done to accommodate additional traffic, officials said nothing. The planning department estimates each added residential unit would bring an additional five car trips per day. That adds up to something like 4,000 trips per day just for the hundreds of new units. Yet no traffic improvements are planned.
Like many, I was dismayed to hear that two more of Palm Coast’s original public recreation opportunities, the Marina Resort and Restaurant and the old Tennis Club, were about to be condominium-ized and concreted over. These recreation facilities were originally deeded by ITT to the people of Palm Coast. Now, they are called “underutilized land” by the $70,000 consultants and being turned over to condo developers.
What can nearby property owners do about it? Well, here’s a start. At the recent meeting, city officials insisted the Tennis Club property had already been rezoned commercial. So far, that’s accurate. But what they didn’t say was that to build the contemplated condos of the future, this property would have to be rezoned again. We can ask the city to represent the residents’ interests this time. Don’t rezone any more properties for higher densities and out-of-scale height limits and congestion in our single-family neighborhood.
Like the developers, we are property owners and taxpayers with an equally keen interest in maintaining our property values during tough economic times. Remember the Centex disaster — the eight-story empty eyesore in the middle of our neighborhood where once there were granddaddy oaks and a thriving resort. I drive by that 90-foot blunder every day. I am asking the city to act in a balanced fashion and take some responsibility for not making another Centex-style error. Let’s move future growth in a direction that’s beneficial to our entire community.
I will be contacting City Council members to express my viewpoint, and I hope you will, too. Enough is enough. Or get comfortable with the sight of condo towers looming over your backyard.
+ Have faith in the Economic Opportunity Advisory Council
I attended the Economic Opportunity Council retreat Wednesday, March 28, and I am pleased to say that the engines have started with a roar, and the lights have been turned on. Led by Executive Director Helga van Eckert, a very capable, talented and experienced person who has been in Flagler for only two months, this rigorous day of planning has produced a foundation upon which a sound economic development effort will be put in place. At her side was Greg Rawls, a person who has had much experience with this effort in the county, and who I am sure will guide our new director around the mine fields with which he is so familiar.
Without a good team, little usually happens. The Economic Opportunity Advisory Council, chaired by County Commission Chairwoman Barbara Revels, is probably the best this county has seen.
The task(s) with which these people have been charged are difficult, especially in these less-than-favorable times. It will take several years to experience the fruit of their labors. With the cooperation and support of the municipalities in our county, in addition to that of the business leaders, residents and the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce & Affiliates, we may expect to see a more vibrant Flagler County, more jobs, fewer vacant properties, as well as stability in our tax rates, while maintaining the quality of life we have all experienced and to which we have grown accustomed.
+ Take advantage of state parks during the short spring
My calendar has informed me of the official beginning of this refreshing season, although I’ve felt it outside for a few weeks now. As a Floridian, I know spring will be short, but it will also be time to break out of your everyday routine, release some stress, get out of the office and experience nature in Florida’s state parks.
Take the time this season to experience nature with all five of your senses — seeing Florida’s vistas, smelling newly bloomed flowers, feeling the sand between your toes, hearing the sounds of children playing and tasting the treats of your picnic basket in a state park. Spring is an optimum season to engross yourself in the natural and cultural resources of Florida’s state parks. There are so many opportunities for new experiences and the special places to continue your old family traditions.
I encourage you to spend time in Florida’s award-winning state parks this season. Savor the atmosphere of spring and enjoy the Sunshine State in the real Florida.
Donald V. Forgione
Director, Florida Park Service
TO SINGLE OUT ... OR NOT?
Sports Editor Andrew O’Brien’s column “To single out … or not?” sparked comments on Facebook and on www.PalmCoastObserver.com last week. In the column, he argued that the pros outweigh the cons for recognizing individual high school athletes for their accomplishments. Here are some of the responses from readers.
Jennifer McLaughlin-Johnston Team sports should recognize everyone! Not one person should be singled out — especially those who are setting personal records and school records. It creates negativity among the players. If a player wants to be singled out, play an individual sport.
Michele Walker Lambert Most team sports are made of kids that work very hard to master different individual skills that they need to play their sports, and when you put all those skills together it makes a team. So why shouldn’t kids be recognized for their accomplishments? A team wouldn’t be a team without all the individuals who play on it.
Mike Jones Nothing wrong with praise, but why do we always have to single out a specific player after a win or loss? Win as a team, lose as a team. Coach Rob Roe should be applauded for his approach, not called out like he is a coward.
Jenna Lee The Observer is here in Flagler County, reporting about the talent that we have in our county. Why not recognize the young man who is at the gym twice a week working out or the young lady who hires a private coach twice a week just to further her skills? What is wrong with honoring the dad who has his son out practicing four days a week because his son wants to play after high school?
So, go ahead and honor those who deserve it. As you honor those individual athletes, the teams they play on are also getting publicity!
Kiera Roe Coach Roe is trying to preach team and not individualism. In athletics, this can be a difficult battle to overcome, but apparently Andrew O’Brien does not understand that concept. This is the second article that Andrew has written with a negative underlying tone toward Rob Roe. It appears he may have a personal vendetta against the coach.Andrew, how many baseball games have you attended this year? One! I have a great idea for you: Come and watch a game and write your own story. Isn’t that what you get paid to do?
Sports Editor’s Note: There is no personal vendetta against coach Rob Roe. We have covered two Matanzas baseball games and a practice, and we attend as many games as we can with our limited staff. We appreciate any game reports coaches give us to make our Sports section more comprehensive. As you can see from the comments online, some people think that individual accomplishments should be recognized, and some don’t. We are glad the Palm Coast Observer can be a forum for this debate. Thanks for reading.
— Send letters to [email protected]. Include full name and city.