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Palm Coast Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 5 years ago

LETTERS: Flagler County is at fault for Spartan Race debacle

What lessons can we learn from the proposed event at Princess Place?

Spartan Race: Unanswered questions and need for accountability

Dear Editor:

The one thing that was wonderful that came about from the development regarding the Spartan Race slated for Princess Place was seeing the community come together and voice their concern so quickly.

Unlike with other debates, there was very clear consensus, and positive mature discussion that took place. The outrage and concern was very clear very quickly to our commissioners who responded with what the residents wanted: no race at Princess Place.

But it cannot end there, because this situation leaves a great deal of unanswered questions that in my opinion must be answered. This situation was far more than just where the race was slated to be held. The real issues are how this situation came about, who was involved, the lack of transparency, and what we can expect as the TDC moves under the county as a department.

First, as a community we were being told that there was no signed contract yet Spartan Race was advertising and accepting payment for a “Jacksonville Super At Palm Coast” with a venue of Princess Place even up through late Monday afternoon?

This was after the County had issued a public statement on Sunday saying the event would not take place at Princess Place. Working in a sports industry that works with other organizations and local governments, it is not normal that a major sports organization would advertise an event and begin accepting payments when no contract exists. So the question is who (Craig Coffey, Matt Dunn, or both) entered into or led Spartan to believe they had a solid agreement on the venue?

Second, Mr. Dunn mentioned the benefit of being able to use Princess Place because “it is free to us.” The question that comes up here is who gave the TDC, an advisory group, the idea they had any authority over the decisions of how any county-owned property is used?

Mr. Dunn, who is also the President of the Dunn Agency, may be confusing his role with the TDC and what they do for the county. As the TDC moves to becoming a department of the county, there are now many questions of Mr. Coffey’s ability to manage Mr. Dunn as well as what possible conflicts of interest exist with Mr. Dunn remaining with the Dunn Agency.

Based upon the agreements in the draft contract, it begs the question of whether Mr. Dunn’s other business stood to gain from this race. And therefore, where are his loyalties?

Third, our County Commission has had an issue with trust and this matter has added more to that damaged reputation. It is very reasonable to question the leadership capability. It is also very reasonable to question this group’s willingness, or ability, of managing the county administrator. For example, the press release issued on a Sunday that claims that “staff” made a review of “parking” and determined it to be an issue on presumably a Saturday and only after a huge public outcry, begs the question to be asked: You really expect us to believe that?

Many people like to complain about the city of Palm Coast’s government, but from my experience our city provides us with most of our services at half of the tax dollars and a council that has a far better handle on the community at a fifth of the commissioners’ salaries.

The bottom line is that this situation lacked transparency, respect for the community’s property, exposed us to potentially large lawsuits, and has potentially damaged future relationships with potential business partners.

No commissioner or this community should accept this situation to be over simply because a press release was issued seemingly to appease a community. We should have the truth from Mr. Coffey and Mr. Dunn because that is what we deserve. And if they cannot adequately answer as to how this very avoidable situation occurred, then they are not who we need in those positions.

Brad M. West
Palm Coast

Deal just kept getting better — for Spartan

Dear Editor:

Flagler County was considering an agreement with Spartan Race to hold The Jacksonville Super endurance race at Princess Place Preserve. This entails closing the site to the public for three weeks and building an eight- to 10-mile obstacle course, which will basically destroy the beauty of the site.

And it gets better — for Spartan, that is.

According to a story on, the county is not charging for the use of the preserve, Spartan is charging the participants, and they get to keep all the proceeds from any vendors at the event. The country has also approved giving the company $25,000 taxpayer dollars to help pay for the race.

Had enough yet? The county has also agreed to pay for all the services that will be required, water, fire, police, utilities internet, ambulance services, etc. No one has said how much this will cost the taxpayers.

You may be wondering why you hadn't heard about this? No public input was solicited, and it appears this was not officially presented to the County Commission.

And the kicker? The contract has no provisions for cleaning and restoring the site after the event. Spartan can walk away and leaves us, the taxpayers, to clean up the mess.

Just who is running this county?

Edith Campins
Palm Coast

Editor’s Note: The presentation was made to the Tourist Development Council. The proposal was canceled before it was scheduled to go before the County Commission. Also, the contract with the county was never signed — it was a draft created by Spartan Race without county input, according to tourism chief Matt Dunn.

Spartan Race just one more to the list of county administration problems

Dear Editor:

I write this letter after having read an email from County Commission Chairman Frank Meeker defending the further consideration of this violation of public assets.

The notion that this commission would even entertain the thought of allowing a private entity to take over our preserve for any function is outrageous! This property was purchased by voter referendum for the continued enjoyment of Flagler's residents. This proposed usage is stealing the purpose of any preserve.

Clearly your employee, County Administrator Craig Coffey, has the wrong policy set by the commissioners on this matter — or does he? I have maintained for a number of years that Coffey sets policy for the BOCC and runs "his" agenda. This issue clearly illustrates that point. The Flagler BOCC has failed to safeguard the public interests and violates the public's trust.

Consider what you have been party to with Mr. Coffey's failures. Here are the most recent and egregious examples: Purchasing Florida's most expensive third-world water company; constructing a sheriff’s headquarters equipped with bats and a roof attached with decayed 40-year-old lumber; being the lead "agency" on the Matanzas Woods Interchange built in a school zone with no signals or lighting to protect pedestrians, most of whom are students required to walk to school; the manatee zone that was not addressed for years and puts all county permits in jeopardy; and now Princess Place made into an "extreme game.” 

What may have led Coffey to believe this would be acceptable was the BOCC voting to allow "living units” to be built at our parks. What a convoluted start to this mess! Is the 100-foot Ferris wheel on its way? The BOCC will create a "circus" in our dedicated land reserve that the Flagler taxpayers paid for but did not approve for this usage.

This would be an appropriate time to order Coffey to stop!

Then, begin the process of replacing him with a candidate that has the proper experience to steward Flagler County assets. Your collective failure to set policy for his performance makes you full party to this embarrassing list of failures.

Dennis McDonald
Palm Coast


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