'The commissioners should seek to extricate the county from this inappropriate entanglement with Captain’s BBQ as quickly as possible.'
Updated May 14 with an editor's note on the second letter.
Sleepy town, sleepy barbecue controversy
What a nice, dormant place this town is! Too bad the name Sleepy Hollow is taken.
While the dimwitted leaders of the world, enabled by even dimmer supporters, allow the planet to heat, Comatose Coast is fixated by the fate of a barbecue stand.
Not to worry. The restaurant at Bings Landing will soon be submerged, but Ocala will have a nice beach.
County attorney should represent us, not Captain’s
Al Hadeed, I am extremely disappointed in your position on the Bings Landing situation. You are the county attorney and as such, should be representing all citizens of Flagler County, not just one entity. I realize your position is that you are trying to "protect the county from legal action.” However, you were instrumental in the proposal of this lease and should have "protected the county" at that time, rather than back pedaling now. From all appearances, you are representing Captain's and their aspirations to expand their business at the citizens’ expense.
Your reputation is now at stake. You have always been a representative of the people, The Hammock and the A1A corridor. The position you have taken on Captain's will be your legacy and will certainly destroy the reputation you have previously established.
Editor's Note: County Attorney Al Hadeed responded this way in an email to the Palm Coast Observer: “I did not write that lease. … The lease was presented to me as a completed document. I identified the additions I had made to correct its legal form. … [Then-County Administrator Craig] Coffey preferred to negotiate his own transactions and to prepare the documentation (or have others prepare it). Later, upon document completion, the document is presented to me for review to look for illegal or improper provisions or any missing provisions, such as an insurance clause or indemnity. … It is not my role to supersede negotiated terms; for example, if I thought a rental amount was too low. Contract terms … are within the prerogative of the administrator subject to the decision of the Board of County Commissioners.”
Greed is at the heart of threat to Bings
The meeting of the county commissioners regarding the fate of Bings Landing was postponed on Monday, May 6, because now the owners do not want to pay for the necessary sewer hook-ups to accommodate their expansion plans. Instead they want the additional cost to be borne by the taxpayers. Enough greed is enough. The next meeting of the commissioners on this latest Bings proposal will be rescheduled. Make your voices heard!
It’s Bings Landing, not Captain’s Landing
The Captain’s BBQ mess is just another example of a government privatization scheme gone badly. This deal, negotiated in secret, then rubber stamped by county commissioners without public comment or even knowledge until it hit the light of day, has been objected to by so many Flagler County residents one has to wonder how it ever came about.
And now, of course, they tell us it’s too late to stop. Where is a Flagler County escape clause in all of this?
This land has been purchased using state and local funds and kept off the tax rolls by the people of Flagler County. It’s not Captain’s BBQ Landing, it’s Bings Landing. If the County Commission won’t act in the people’s interests and end this travesty, perhaps the Captain’s folks will recognize the ill will towards this project and go back in and negotiate a deal to close up shop, leave the park and move elsewhere and let this place become a park again and not a sore point for the people of Flagler County.
Jeffery C. Seib
Disentangle from Captain’s as soon as possible
Captain’s BBQ proposes to design, permit, construct and maintain a $1 million building in Bings Landing that would increase its customer seating area by approximately 1,000 square feet and the number of seats from 100 seats in the current building to 150 seats.
If the county commissioners approve this proposal, they would be abdicating their responsibility to manage the park and park facilities by ceding complete control of all aspects of the building to Captain’s owners. These are the same owners who have been cited by the state Health Department for high priority food violations and for operating the current restaurant with more seats than the Health Department approved. Further, this seating was approximately 20% higher than the seating permitted by the County lease, and the additional sewage generated by the unauthorized seating endangered the Matanzas River by exceeding the capacity of the park’s septic system.
Following are lease terms and county actions that have subsidized Captain’s operations since the current lease began in 2011:
The below market monthly rental was $500 at the beginning of the lease, it increased $40 per month on each anniversary, and it now amounts to $780 per month. This rental does not begin to cover county expenses, does not provide for the real estate taxes paid by competitors, and does not contain a profit-sharing provision like the Flagler Beach lease with the Funky Pelican.
The lease requires the county to maintain and insure the building at county expense.
The lease specifies that the county will provide the labor to make significant building improvements. County labor has been used to build out 700 square feet of additions to the original building for food storage and preparation, to install many significant improvements to the original building, to install the grease separation system for the restaurant, and to install part of the 1,350 square feet of enclosed decking that is used for most of the current restaurant seating.
The sewage connection for the caretaker’s cottage was capped following the recent Health Department inspection to enable the Health Department to approve more restaurant seats based on septic-system capacity.
County administration has said that the current lease has stimulated economic development. In reality, it is government-subsidized corporate welfare that harms the taxpayers who provided the tax dollars to purchase the park, and it provides unfair competition to other restaurants in The Hammock.
Captain’s proposes to construct the new building at their expenses and deed it over to the county when completed. This appears to be a gift, but Captain’s cost will be offset over the 20-year life of the lease by $960,000 in rent-reduction credits. The proposed transaction is not a gift. The county is actually buying the building with the rent credits.
The Captain’s proposal would relocate the south pavilion to give their restaurant the best riverfront view in the park. The south pavilion would be reconstructed in a less desirable location, and parking requirements for the larger restaurant will consume half of the 120 parking spaces in the park. Forty-five of the remaining spaces are reserved for boat trailer parking, leaving only 15 spaces for the general public. Reducing the amount of parking available to the public will limit public use of the park that was purchased with taxpayer dollars to provide access to the Matanzas River for boating, fishing, and other recreational activities.
This is another mess created by former County Administrator Craig Coffey. Some of the problems described above would be corrected in the proposed lease, but it would continue to benefit Captain’s to the detriment of competing restaurants, and it would continue to limit taxpayer access to their park by constraining parking.
The commissioners should seek to extricate the county from this inappropriate entanglement with Captain’s BBQ as quickly as possible.