Between the 2014 and 2016 elections, Palm Coast got an entirely new City Council–the first time the council has turned over that quickly and completely. The only equivalent in the city’s history was the founding council of 1999, giving this council a chance to be Palm Coast’s new founders. It’s a rare moment in the city’s 17 years. Whether the council chooses to make its defining mark may not become apparent for a few years, with the benefit of hindsight. But with that in mind, FlaglerLive asked all five council members to imagine the Palm Coast they would like to look back on at the end of their term, and write what they see as a way of setting out their vision–whether as a state of the city address that looks back on their years, or in a more conventional look forward. The results are being published this week over five evenings. Mayor Milissa Holland’s piece appeared Monday, Council member Robert Cuff’s on Tuesday, and Heidi Shipley’s on Wednesday.
By Nick Klufas
Foremost, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you for the next four years. I’m proud to serve on such a diverse and capable City Council. Over this term we have an opportunity to make Palm Coast an even better place to live and work. I foresee a huge improvement in our communication with residents, city employees, and county officials. It is so important that we build strong working relationships to accomplish our goals and better serve our community.
By 2020 we will have completed our Community Center renovation as well as Holland Park. These facilities will be thriving with residents of all ages, meeting the needs of both our families as well as senior citizens. Throughout my campaign, residents frequently told me that there was “nothing for my kids to do around here.” Our parks and recreation department has great new leadership with a vision to launch our new facilities.
Over the next four years, I’d like to expand our summer camp programs which are busting at the seams, and continue other programs like the Senior Olympics and Adult Athletic Leagues. Our youths will have a better shot at staying out of trouble, and our residents have the opportunity to maintain a healthy lifestyle. At the end of the day we need to make sure that we are focusing on loss recovery to recoup the costs of maintaining these amenities. It’s not impossible. We just need to be more diligent about it and I have confidence that our new leadership is more than capable of taking on this challenge.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office has done a great job keeping our crime rate low and residents safe. I would like to have eyes on all of the entry points within our city to identify assailants and protect our citizens from out-of-town criminals. Very recently, on New Year’s Eve, there was a fatal hit and run accident on Old Kings Road. Cameras could have assisted in finding the damaged vehicle leaving the scene of the crime. The cameras I’m proposing will tie into our already existing FiberNet infrastructure, so we’re able to provide a far better level of security at a low cost to Palm Coast residents. We are lucky to have phenomenal men and women protecting our community and I would like to work with Sheriff Rick Staly to provide the tools they need to better serve the public.
We also have a fantastic group of emergency service personnel. In order for them to be successful, they also need our support. For all Palm Coast and Flagler County emergency services, there will be significant improvements to the county-run 800mhz communications system, the backbone of the county’s and municipalities’ emergency communications. As your City Councilman, I will ensure that the system meets all of the demands of our city. We will notice an immediate lift in poor coverage areas that include our schools, the European Village and inside Walmart, which are all high-traffic areas. This system is a vital part in providing exceptional service to our residents in their time of need. We will be looking at both the short term and long term needs to ensure that the lifespan of this new system can keep up with our cities’ demands.
Another issue that touches on both public safety and communication is cell phone coverage. Better cell phone coverage provides a conducive environment for new and existing businesses to be successful, while giving residents the service they’ve come to rely on. We are pursuing opportunities for public-private partnerships with tower providers who have established relationships with all of the major services carriers. These providers offer a soup to nuts solution with coverage surveying, tall tower and micro-cell tower construction and installation. The cost to implement this solution is paid for by the carriers leases, so it’s a win-win for the city and our residents. The benefits are big, just starting with better phone calls.
Lastly, over the next four years we will need to make improvements to our city’s beautification and to its public works department. Our current public works facility is substandard and in need of repairs. It’s stood the test of time, and to be more efficient we need a new, larger facility. I believe in working smarter, not harder, and our public works department will have the ability to better maintain our landscaping equipment, machinery, and fire trucks with the appropriate space and tools. As our community continues to grow we need to keep up with demand to maintain the quality we’ve come to expect in Palm Coast.
Time to get to work.
Nick Klufas, a senior development engineer at ACI, was elected to the District 3 seat of the Palm Coast City Council in November. Reach him by email here.