No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

Divided Flagler Commission Moves Ahead With $1.23 Million Option on Old Hospital

| May 6, 2013

The Flagler County Commission's tour of the old hospital property mirrored the county's approach on the potential acquisition to far: much of it has been in the dark. (c FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County Commission’s tour of the old hospital property mirrored the county’s approach on the potential acquisition so far: much of it has been in the dark. (c FlaglerLive)

A split Flagler County Commission voted 3-2 to approve a $1.23 million option to buy the 60,000 square foot Florida Memorial Hospital building in Bunnell, as is, pending the administration’s “due diligence” over the next 90 days. Under the agreement, the price is not negotiable should the county decide to buy the property at the end of the due diligence period. But it may walk away from the option at any point, without a financial penalty.

Click On:



The Documents:


Commissioners Nate McLaughlin, Barbara Revels and George Hanns voted for it. Frank Meeker and Charlie Ericksen voted against. The division on the board reflected the divisiveness of the issue, which sprang to public view only late last month, after it had been broadly discussed internally, even with commissioners.

The decision on the old hospital followed a 90-minute meeting that started at 11 this morning (after the unrelated commission meeting that started at 9 a.m.), spilled into an hour spent at the hospital property, when commissioners and others walked through the building in guided, flashlight tours, then concluded with a formal meeting at the Emergency Operations Center, where it had begun. The tour, much of it in darkened hallways, rooms, crannies and lobbies, was reflective of the county’s approach on the property acquisition as it has been conducted so far: much of it in the dark, with cherry-picked details briefly flash-lit.

But supportive commissioners strained to appear less sold than cautious with their approval of the option agreement.

County Commissioner Barbara Revels said the old courthouse has “potentially better ready-to-go space” at the moment as an option for a county acquisition, but is too “constrictive to future use,” while the hospital property has plenty of acreage for expansions and other usages. “I saw no cracks anywhere in any wall,” Revels, a builder, said. “The roof appears to be in excellent shape,” even as it will need to have a new coating. “The bones of the building are quite good, quite strong, and it gives us a great deal of future options to house there as we grow in the use of that facility.”

“You can’t see the cracks in me either, but they’re there,” former County Commissioner Hutch King said, addressing the commission in the final public-speaking period. “You look at the MRIs, and they’re really there.” He said that more than the analysis presented, the perception surrounding the proposed acquisition will override its value. “This smacks of political payoff, whether it is or it is not,” he said.

But several others stressed the value of the building, is vastness, its ideal location in the center of Bunnell, and the due diligence ahead that will give the administration and the commission options to drop the deal.

The board will review the results of the due diligence, which entail analyses of the building’s structure, the potential cost of potential environmental clean-up and an independent appraisal by the county. The appraisal was not part of the original agreement. But it was what County Commissioner Barbara Revels requested be part of the agreement as she made the motion to go ahead with the option. County Administrator has authority to spend up to $70,000 for the due diligence.

“That’s not unreasonable or unheard of in this market,” Coffey said of the $1.23 million. In 2002, the building had been estimated at $2 million. The acquisition, should it go through, would cost the county at least $5 million, when reconstruction costs are included. That cost does not include that of a new roof, which is needed, nor the cost of asbestos clean-up, should that be needed: documents indficate that there is still some asbestos in the building, though much has been removed.

The county is looking at buying the building as part of its options—now up to four—to move the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office’s operations center from its current, cramped and out-of-the-way location at the edge of Bunnell (on Justice Lane) to downtown Bunnell. The move would make it easier to use the property left behind on Justice Lane as part of a planned expansion of the county jail. The county commission, in an earlier meeting Monday, voted unanimously to approve a $1 million design contract for that jail expansion.

County Administrator Craig Coffey began the late-morning meeting with a presentation defending the potential acquisition as one of several options, and said it remains just that—an option—as the county studies its possibilities. Two other options include moving the sheriff’s office into the annex of the old Flagler County Courthouse, an option that appeared to be gaining favor last year but that did not have a solid majority of commissioners behind it. The other option is to build a new operations center in place of the old, disused county jail—not on Justice Lane, but on State Road 100, below the Bunnell water tower.

Commissioner Frank Meeker submitted a fourth option, which Commissioner Charlie Ericksen supported: To add 25,000 square feet to the existing, 26,500 square-foot Emergency Operations Center (behind the Government Services Building) and move the sheriff’s operations there, consolidating them with the 911 dispatch center, which is located at EOC. Ericksen said the EOC was underused, and could have some of its uses moved to the main government building, which does have ample space, particularly as Bunnell’s city offices move out of there and into the old courthouse.

But Coffey was quick to question the appeal of the proposition. “You’ve got a fire department here, obviously it was built for a specific purpose, for disasters,” adding that there was not enough space in it to accommodate the sheriff’s office. He said he’d analyzed the idea previously, and would, he said, gesturing toward Meeker and Ericksen, “walk you guys through them.”

“We’ve kicked this can around and around and around. Frankly, if this doesn’t pan out, I’m not going to move beyond the annex,” Commission Chairman Nate McLaughlin said.

Ericksen, the lone dissenter in the vote Monday, said he preferred to ask the sheriff to “tighten his belt” for a couple of years and “live with what we have now.”

The meetings brought out quite a few interested parties among the 35-odd people attending it at one point or another: Gail Wadsworth, the clerk of court, and her second-in-command, Tom Bexley; City Council members Bill McGuire and Jason DeLorenzo, who is also the local builders association’s political affairs director; Rebecca deLorenzo, the president of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce, along with Garry Lubi of the chamber; Undersherrif Rick Staly; Flagler County Health Department Director Patrick Johnson; and former County Commissioners Alan Peterson and Hutch King. Around lunchtime Supervisor of Elections Kimberle Weeks tok a seat in the audience and joined the visit at the property. She is concerned about some of the capital budgeting that may potentially divert $500,000 her office needs to replace election equipment, and wants to ensure that commissioners are aware of the mandate she’s under.

Some 10 people spoke, in the morning seven in favor of (or at least not opposing) the acquisition, three opposed, including Undersheriff Rick Staly, who did not endorse the hospital option so much as thank the commission for continuing to explore options that all aim to get the sheriff into larger location.

“This will allow you to section off portions of the building,” Coffey had said of the hospital property. The sheriff has asked for a minimum of 22,000 square feet, or roughly a third of the roofed space on the property. That’s what would be renovated first, leaving the rest of the square footage either to be renovated later or to be knocked down (or partially knocked down) to make room for more parking. There are currently 166 parking spaces on the property. The county could just as well add on to the building.

A few more people spoke in the afternoon, immediately before the vote, including Peterson, the former commissioner, who echoed other critics when he said the county was approaching the acquisition backward, and urged commissioners to seek two appraisals, not one, and criticized paying a price three and a half time the appraised value of the property. He also noted that there is current vacant space in the county that could be better used.

The commission took its 3-2 vote at 2:45 p.m.

Print Friendly

39 Responses for “Divided Flagler Commission Moves Ahead With $1.23 Million Option on Old Hospital”

  1. Magnolia says:

    “Due diligence” doesn’t seem to be a term this commission understands. Funny how these “deals” always seem to involve some Chamber heavy in Flagler County who always ends of making millions off the deal. Oh yes, it is THAT obvious.

    Have been here nearly 20 years and have yet to see a deal benefiting the people. I guess that’s just the way it is when nobody votes or gives a damn and you leave the same politicians in office.

    We need to get the realtors and developers OFF our government elective bodies. Only then will this cronyism stop.

    FYI, Mr. Lawrence of the Flager Tea Party sent out a notice calling this a “rumor”. Mr. Lawrence, do you have inside connections?

  2. Anon says:

    Read and re-read the first paragraph, second sentence of this article
    “Under the agreement, the price is not negotiable should the county decide to buy the property at the end of the due diligence period”

    Let’s put it another way. I want 4x for my property and you get 90 days to inspect it. And even if you find that the property is only worth 2x and requires 10x in rehabilitation costs, it’s too bad the price is still 4x.

    A commission member who is also a builder endorses this acquisition.
    Is there any chance that the builder’s friends or association members would reap the benefits of her endorsement/vote?

    And what about the sellers?
    Whose friends are they?
    After the sale they will all probably be having dinner, drinking wine and backslapping the politicians who let them cakewalk their way through the deal.

    What kind of fool would enter into such a one sided sales agreement?

    If anyone can’t see this as a sham they don’t want to.

  3. Dave Sullivan says:

    The Flagler county “good old boys” slip another one
    past the Flagler County tax payers. Good for
    Commissioners Ericksen and Meeker for saying no.
    This is simply a bailout for a couple of rich connected
    local investors who are caught with a white
    elephant of a building that cannot be sold at
    anywhere near the price agreed to by the County.
    Mark my words, the old hospital will be a money
    sump if they ever try to get it fixed up for the
    Sheriff HQ and will turn out to be unfit for the
    Intended use. Politicians beware of spending
    Taxpayers money foolishly when you come up
    for election again.
    Chairman Sullivan

  4. Joe says:

    I will still support Meeker and Erickson, saying nay to paying double for a decrepped old building was the right choice, the other 3 just showed you the tax payer what they think of you!!!

  5. Ron Hubbard says:

    Ha ha ha.. Flagler says here’s SPIT and SALT in your eye, Mr. & Mrs. Taxpayer!

    This is what happens when government looses the concept that they are responsible to spend OUR money responsibly and ETHICALLY.

    The Flagler politicians are performing a PAY OFF, plain and simple. There is no adherence to the Sunshine Law and these gangsters are opeating for their own benefit and greed.

    Remember their names and BE SURE to throw them into the unemployment lines next election day!!!!
    Of course, they may be retiring to their yacht or to their off shore island hide aways that YOU PAID FOR.

  6. Duh says:

    What good was it to take a walk through when lighting was poor, and those that walked through had no idea what they were looking at/for? Those that voted to go forward act like $70,000 is petty cash!! Disgusting!!!

  7. concerned citizen says:

    Are you kidding me. All of that money for that old hospital. It sure sounds like a political move/agenda to me. Please Flagler don’t let this happen.

  8. tulip says:

    Soooo, the Commissioners walk through a dark old building, wave some flashlights around and find no cracks in any wall and the building in good shape? Really? That’s an intelligent inspection? The whole visual of people judging the condition of an old dark building using a flashlight would be funny if this deal wasn’t so sneaky, and today’s guided tour was just a motion to make it look good before they voted yes to the purchase.

    I sure would like to have been the agent handling that sale! Easy pickins. There are some Commissioners involved in the real estate business and shame on them for doing business in this manner.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where was our property appraiser today?????????????????????????????????????????

    • Gardenia says:

      Property being purchased for 3.45 times the current assessed value….. Now Jay Gardner is our chief property appraiser – he is also a certified licensed property appraiser… How come the county has not asked HIM to do a certified appraisal on the property???????????????? Not even a contingency on ‘subject to (county) appraiser’ just the seller’s appraisal…
      Now Jay explain how you depreciated this mess of a building at almost 40% less in 2012 than you did in 2010… let’s see if you can do a real commercial certified appraisal so we taxpayers can have an ‘independent’ appraisal before purchase.. hmmmm how about it?

  9. FED UP says:

    This deal was the same as what happened with the Plantation Bay Utility. Could Coffee be friends with Hoesini? You scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

  10. Charles Gardner says:

    If the price is not negotiable, why would you bother getting an appraisal (or two)?

  11. Beginning to be involved says:

    I am very impressed by Meeker and Erickson. They seem to listen to the taxpayers of this county. People it is time to get involved. Finally vote out the commissioners who do not look out for us. Remember! Vote! We may loose this little battle but we can still win the war. Thanks you Mr. Meeker and Mr. Erickson. Barbara Revels, your done!

  12. Anonymous says:

    The employees of the Sheriff’s Office deserve a new building for all they do for this County. How come they are always thought of by the Commissioners as an after thought? They get the hand me downs while the rest of the Count employees get a new palace. Please give this outstanding agency the respect they deserve. They already work in a sick building. They do not need to work in another one.

  13. Dr. Know says:

    Its an “OLD” hospital. Did anyone check for DISEASES that fester in the cracks and ceilings? Did a HAZMAT team come out and check for dangerous bacteria ? Of course not, their to interested in spending our money and making a few FAT CATS richer. Listen up Sheriff dept…Don’t move in to that building without checking for dangerous biological pathogens who have had plenty of time to grow.

  14. Realty Check says:

    Threaten to cut off Nate and Barbara and let them go back to what they did before becoming county commissioners; the real-estate market isn’t much good right now. If these people are allowed to do this deal it will be a crime, they are in bed with the owners and everyone in Flagger County knows it. They need to be removed from office; they are not doing what is in the best interest of the taxpayers here. This is such a bust, even the under sheriff says no thank you, this is nothing more than politicians getting their palms greased by business men who are money whores of Flagler county, period.

    Nate McLaughlin, Barbara Revels need to be voted out, this is why showing up at election time is so important, do not let them keep profiting from bad service. How can they aprove to spend this kind of money that they do not have? show up at the next election and tell them “no more” by voting them out of their free money jobs!

  15. polly says:

    Thank you Frank Meeker and Charlie Ericksen. Why would any sane commission want to buy a “tainted” facility that no one else wanted for 12 years? Asbestos….new roof…..What they need to do is ditch this due diligence and regroup! Dave Sullivan is correct. The taxpayers have been watching their money during this economic mess but yet the commission feels it needs to purchase! Make do for now. Sorry Sheriff but you will just have to wait until the economy turns around a bit.

  16. Magnolia says:

    “Commissioners Nate McLaughlin, Barbara Revels and George Hanns voted for it.”

    These are the people we need to place on the Commission. Builders, developers, realtors on the Commission are killing this county for their own greed.

    Let’s push for an investigation.

  17. ECK says:

    Hmmm. At least $5000000 including renovation. I must be missing something. If building costs for new construction are around $100 per sqft and sheriff needs 22000 sqft….well do the math….seems as if adding space to government complex or building new on some other already owned land would be far cheaper.

  18. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    Either way, just bought the new City Hall for these crooks. The department needs a bigger Jail before they need a bigger headquarters, and what moved these Politicians to become so compassionate and accommodating to the Sheriffs Dept???

  19. confidential says:

    My appreciation goes to County Commissioners Mr. Meeker and Mr. Erickson and to Sheriff Jim Manfre represented by Undersherif Mr. Staly and our former County Commissioner Hutch King for you all opposing this shameful deal!
    This deal should be put to the peoples vote added to the school referendum as doesn’t matter if will be paid by the sales tax …as is our tax anyway. Also because the county is demanding to raise our taxes while purchasing overpriced junk real estate or utilities!! This is what takes place after deceiving realtors and/or developer lie to us on the campaign trail and then get elected to the BOCC. Then once in the seat nolonger represent us but developers instead.
    The FBI should be called to investigate this deal and the others in the past.
    Looks like we need you back in the BOCC Hutch, supporting and defending the taxpayers wishes again!
    Thank you for going and representing us in the meeting as most of us the silent majority, are at work making a living to pay the taxes the Big Three, decided to waste!

  20. confidential says:

    My appreciation also to Supervisor of Elections Mrs Kimberle Weeks present and rightfully ponting that she is not voted by the BOCC the funds needed for the new elections equipment “mandated by the state” due to budget constrain “lies”, while dilapidating our scarce funds in overpriced real estate to benefit their buddies.

  21. joe joe says:

    The county could have a new building BUILT for what they want for that pile of junk in Bunnell.

  22. kmedley says:

    I went to yesterday’s meeting with an open mind and was willing to listen to the County’s proposal. When Commissioner Hanns stated the BOCC had considered the hospital site 10 years ago, and decided at that time it did not meet the needs, that’ when my skepticism increased. I understand the BOCC is under a mandate to address the Sheriff’s office; but, how long has the mandate been in place and how long has it been the subject of many a budget debate?

    $70,000 for all the various and sundry inspections is a conservative estimate and I would be amazed if all the inspections could be scheduled for and completed by the 60 due diligence time frame. Let’s put the project in an easy to understand perspective.

    How many of us have experienced a kitchen remodel? You take a look at your old, out of date kitchen and wish to update it and include the latest in kitchen fashion statements. A kitchen designer draws up the most wonderful design imaginable and you create a budget. Demo day comes and you awake with anticipation. You’ve cleared the cupboards and countertops and you are so ready you want to grab the sledge hammer and take the first swing! Now, everything has been stripped away and the contractor presents you with the first of many unanticipated costs. Afterall, you cannot know what you are really facing until the walls are opened.

    The old hospital, while it may be a bargain at $20.00 per square foot, what is the final per square foot cost going to equal once the walls are opened? We already know there are VAT, vinyl asbestos tiles, and the ceilings could contain asbestos, too. Good bones aside, what do the arteries look like? Electrical wiring and plumbing and current code requirements will need to be addressed. Replacing the membrane on the roof is not going to be cheap. ADA compliance for a building constructed in 1979 will not be inexpensive, either. Also, we all know the County is going to enter the Green factor into the equation and that literally means more green in the form of money.

    I much prefer Commissioner Meeker’s option. I find it disappointing it was hurriedly cast aside. To me, speaking as someone who has been at the center of many a kitchen and complete house remodel, new construction, in the long run, is much more cost effective. A 25,000 sq. ft. addition to the existing EOC building at $100 per sf is cheaper than that which is being proposed, and, it is much more manageable. IMO, there is plenty of room and roads and parking could be re-worked to allow for an expansion to the EOC building. Comm. Meeker and Erickson need to stand their ground and ask for a presentation for the 4th option.

  23. r&r says:

    Coffey has done it again. He’s the guy that runs this county. The commisioners are his puppets and he pulls the strings..

  24. Wilt says:

    Palm Coast needs their own Police Department and own building . Not another decrepit building outside Palm Coast we have to pay for again. No deputies around our City to enforce regulations so they put up red light cameras. They are never seen in the neighborhood. People driving 60 MPH and the boombox blaring. This City has went to the dogs. Time to move. No longer any quality of life except over the Hammock Dunes Bridge where the rich people live and the politicians cater to.

  25. resident says:

    I’ve been here over 20 years, and I do believe this is the stupidest thing I have seen this county do…
    That place needed to be torn down WHEN IT WAS STILL A HOSPITAL- This will spur a new round of county employee mold/asbestos suits and even more for the taxpayers to pay for…

  26. Initialjoe says:

    The public should have been invited to walk through as an open house…or at least voted on spending this money. I thought we were in a deficit…How could this be helping the deficit? We shouldn’t be purchasing millions of dollars in buildings if we are in a deficit plain and simple. Why cut and then spend twice as much as you’ve cut.

  27. Diego Miller says:

    Coffey and Confusion!

  28. tulip says:

    @ REALITY CHECK Isn’ t Nate up for re-election next year? Someone told me that he is one of the infamous RR members who were supposed to be so conservative? I sure hope someone runs against him.

  29. Joe says:

    This should be a career ending move for the likes of Nate McLaughlin, Barbara Revels and George Hanns, don’t ever forget this come election time because thats what they are counting on, vote em out!!!

  30. Herb Whitaker says:

    I have avoided entering any of the discussions on this site since the election, when I lost to Hanns by 312 votes. Let me say, that had I received 313 more votes than I did, this point would be mute now, I would have voted no on this project, which is a boondoggle and I would have voted against the Plantation Bay purchase also, even though that vote would not have been for much other than possibly I could have at least interjected some discussion into the process which could have possibly swayed a vote, unlike 1 did not. Anyway that is behind us and we must move forward. but let’s discuss. Barbara is a good friend of Bruce Page of Intracoastal, (mentioned in the article by Pierre), does she finance her building projects through Intracoastal? if so sound like somewhat of a conflict to me. The assessed value of the building is $1, I know Jay Gardner, who is a friend and I like Jay, but, he is also friends with Mike Chiumento and I believe his day Jim Gardner is an investor in Intracoastal Bank, is that why the assessment was $1? Makes you think! I, like someone before, I believe Alan Peterson said, I do not like the appraisal made which values the property at 2002 values. This community is not in the 2002 value position, we are in a much worse position property valuewise, but $1 does not return any taxes to our county, why? In reviewing the historical values of the property, the land value 2 years ago was $1, but now is $353,951. In 2009, the building was $842336 and the property $1, Total $842,337. How does it now have a value of 1.23 Million?
    I am really surprised at Nate he is up for election next year and this will surely seal his future, if the electorate remembers which is not a good bet the history is not there.
    Who will pay to remediate the asbestos that was in the building? Has it been remediated? No explanation was given. I agree with Al Peterson, a new appraisal by someone not associated with the sellers or their minions, a new inspection by a qualified inspector out of the county employees but there will be $70K gone. Now this does not include the fact that the county is basically abandoning their plans and the approx $1M they have poured into the old county courthouse over the past 10 years and the additional money they will have to give Bunnell to renovate that building, Bunnell has already stated they do not have the $ to do this work. Lets see, about $10M for the Plantation Bay water utility, about $8 -10 M for this new hospital project. Where will the $18 – $20 M come from? Frank says the Plantation Bay residents will pay for the water utility, how many residents are on that site that will pay for the renovations and what will be the per property assessment? Somewhere north of $20K roughly it looks like, what do you think?
    Glad to post again, It has been a while.

  31. Ron Hubbard says:

    I had to laugh at the description used by the politicians inspecting the dilapidated building’s ‘bones.’

    The only bones I see are the bone headed despicable politicians carrying out this political payoff in full view of helpless and outraged citizens.

    I wonder if they will pay the bogus purchase price by putting cold cash into a brown bag and delivering it under the cover of darkness to their cronies.

  32. Realty Check says:

    People did you not hear, Barbara Revels had a flashlight and said the building looked good, she is the Nancy Pelosi of Flagler County, every time she opens her mouth something stupid comes out. This is a bit fishy, Revels is a builder/real-estate agent and Nate McLaughlin was a real-estate agent also, they both should know the true value of such a poor building. I believe they are gaining from the sale, maybe not cash, but in favors from the trio of owners. Why would you spend 70K (non Refundable) for a building inspection on a building that we all know is not worth the asking price, this is why people hate politicians and all they dishonesty they stand for. People of Flagler county stand up and say no more, ask for their removal from office or show up and vote them out at election time.

  33. devrie says:

    I noticed the Krispy Creme place next to the old hospital. Coincidence? I think not.

  34. Ron Hubbard says:

    The clever politicians used flash lights to look at the grossly overpriced, rotting hulk of the outdated building. Why?
    So they would not see the miserable decaying building as it really is. The public has been set up!!!

    I PREDICT that sleeze balls like Nate McLaughlin, Barbara Revels and George Hanns will soon be coming to the public hat in hand BEGGING for many tens of millions of dollars to “urgently” repair this white elephant they bought to fulfill a political payoff.

  35. Ron Hubbard says:

    $1.23 million is just a tiny down payment on the HUGE money pit the GULLIBLE Flagler Commission is getting themselves on the hook for.

    I predict they will be coming hat in hand for tens of millions dollars more to “just make the glory hole a little bit nicer for the poor needy police department.” Of course they will spend it because that is what they LOVE to do. Spend other people’s money! That’s the definition of socialist government, folks!

    Can you say….tax increase????

  36. pete says:

    YOU PEOPLE NEED TO STAND BACK AN LOOK AT WHAT YOU WANT TO BUY. ITS GOING TO BE A MONEY PIT WHEN YOU START TO REMODEL. BETTER THINK AGAIN

Leave a Reply

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive
Loading

ADVERTISEMENTS

suppert flaglerlive flagler live palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam florida
news service of florida

Subscribe to FlaglerLive

Get immediate notification of new stories.

Advertisement
Log in
| FlaglerLive, P.O. Box 354263, Palm Coast, FL 32135-4263 | 386/586-0257

FlaglerLive.com