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No New Street Lights in Palm Coast, But $547,000 For Field Lights and $1 Million For Toilets

| April 25, 2017

field lights

‘Why can’t we take this money and use it to put it in more street lights and more sidewalks?’ one council member asked about the $547,000 field-lights project for six poles at Indian Trails Sports Complex. (Fe Ilya)

A week after approving $425,000 sun shades at four city parks, the Palm Coast City Council today nodded approval for a $977,000 project to build three public restrooms and $547,000 to add lights to three sports fields at Indian Trails Sports Complex (at close to $100,000 a light pole).

“I might as well go ahead and pre-empt the media and citizens’ comments by saying, why can’t we take this money and use it to put it in more street lights and more sidewalks?” Council member Bob Cuff asked about halfway in the discussion of the three items during this morning’s council workshop. “You know what we’re going to read in the paper tomorrow and you know what’s going to happen next Tuesday when we meet.” The council is expected to formally approve the projects next Tuesday.

In an interview this afternoon Cuff said his question and comment were not intended to sound derisive “if that’s how it came across,” he said. “I ‘m sorry if I sound like some politician when I say that. No, I think those are legitimate questions.”

City Manager Jim Landon gave an answer, but it did not necessarily answer Cuff’s question.

Regarding sidewalks, he said the two ongoing sidewalk projects are currently funded—one with a grant that kicks in July 1, one in Seminole Woods that’s near completion. “This project and the funding of that doesn’t impact that at all,” Landon said.

But that didn’t answer Cuff’s question, which was not about existing sidewalk projects, but why existing money could not be used for additional sidewalk or street light projects.

The question was especially relevant regarding the $547,000 expense for six light poles at three fields at the Indian Trails Sports Complex, which already has lights on many of its fields, but not on the three immediately adjacent to the south end of Indian Trails Middle School.

This was Landon’s complete answer: “Street lights is for the most part there might be some minor costs but nothing that would be a major decision maker as to whether you are going to be putting street lights or not, so for the most part it is operating cost, it’s just the, how much do they cost to operate that, it comes out of your general fund. And once again, this is all construction. The restrooms will have very little operating costs associated with them, for us, and the lights will have, yes, sports lights are expensive, so there is that. So the decision for lighting will be during your discussion about, you know, how many firefighters and deputies and streets and all those parks and recreations and all of our operating funds. This doesn’t have any impact on those at all.”

“Yeah, it’s expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than building additional fields,” the city manager said.

Actually, no: one decision on street lights was apparently reached today, as the council, by approving the new lights at Indian Trails, was also approving the operating costs that go along with running those lights. Council members raised the question about those operating costs. They did not get an answer. Only that existing lights at Indian Trails Sports Complex cost close to $110,000 a year to operate, though those are over eight fields, and they are not the more efficient LED lights expected to be installed at the three fields. Nevertheless, the cost of lights will increase proportionately.

Street lights are far less expensive to operate. The existing cost, Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland said during the discussion, is around $700,000 a year citywide, where there are some 3,000 lights (and most of those are not LED: the new ones are, thus lowering operating costs, but not installation costs.)

“I didn’t mean to suggest we don’t need those things, if anything I was hoping to highlight for the staff that that was something we needed to keep in mind with any of these contracts or expenditures,” Cuff said. “Whenever you’re using dollars that could be used for more than one thing, then yeah, I think it’s a fair question or a fair recommendation to the city council or city staff that instead of spending it on X you spend it on Y.”

The field lights at Indian Trails, however, appear to be a done deal, even though, by Landon’s acknowledgement—to a question by Councilman Nick Klufas—the motivation to add the lights is not related to attracting more tournaments to town. No such organization has said it would be more likely to come to Palm Coast because of lights, Landon said, as most tournaments are conducted during daytime. Rather, the lights would add capacity for local use, making it more flexible, for example, to schedule some events that might at times overlap with tournaments (which had been an issue in the past).

Bob Cuff

Bob Cuff. (© FlaglerLive)

“Yeah, it’s expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than building additional fields,” Landon said. The lights are being paid out of capital fund dollars.

The $977,000 bathroom project is two-fold. One roomy set of rest rooms will be added at the Indian Trails Sports Complex, again in the area closest to the south end of the middle school, at the edge of the three soon-to-be-lit fields. Another set will go up on the grounds of the Palm Coast Arts Foundation in Town Center. Both sets will include family bathrooms, thus accommodating families or transgender persons.

In Town Center, the rest room facility will serve the general public—joggers, walkers, cyclists who exercise through Town Center—as well as patrons at Palm Coast Arts Foundation events. The arts foundation is expected to maintain the bathroom most times, except when the city has an event centered around the area, in which case city crews will clean up.

The money for the bathrooms is from a fund with less flexibility than the money for the lights: it’s coming out of the parks impact fee fund, so it’s restricted to public-park related uses—such as bathrooms or amenities. The pot also includes a $150,000 grant from the Tourist Development Council, the county agency that collects the 5 percent sales surtax on hotel, motel and short-term rentals paid mostly by visitors. That revenue is redistributed in various ways, including in the form of capital grants that allow cities and the county to improve their amenities and draw more tourists. Two previous grants from the tourism council helped pay for field expansions at Indian Trails, including the fields about to get their own lights. 

Bathroom and Field Lights Presentation (2017)

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35 Responses for “No New Street Lights in Palm Coast, But $547,000 For Field Lights and $1 Million For Toilets”

  1. Lazaruis says:

    Totally irrational !!
    What more can I say ??

  2. Born and Raised Here says:

    The City is finally starting to improve the parks by putting in Sun shades and field lights so organized Sport Teams can used the Sport Facilities at night. This is what we need so Palm Coast can host more Sport Tournaments, which will bring more traveling teams and revenue to our City.
    “If you build it they will come.”

  3. tulip says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have all the council people and the mayor vote no and say no to Landon? Why do we even have council people since Landon dictates what we will or will not have and most everyone concedes to him.

  4. liberal says:

    i’d prefer a safe lit sidewalk to get to the park and a porta potty. Bathrooms are getting expensive nowadays. Over $500k for one at Varn Park. And now a discounted $300k for each at Indian trails. I am in the Wrong business.

  5. Sw says:

    Cant make this up No one would believe me

  6. Coyote says:

    Landon said (in part) : “The restrooms will have very little operating costs associated with them, for us,”

    At $325 Thousand dollars apiece, the restrooms better damn well have very little operating costs.

  7. Kim says:

    Okay, basic project management. Doesn’t Palm Coast have a list of priorities? Ideally one that’s been thoughtfully prepared, based on a needs analysis, and reviewed? Why does it seem like these expenditures (sun shades, extra sports lighting, extra bathrooms…) keep popping up out of nowhere? This should be a plan full process, not a “idea of the moment” that we throw money at.

  8. John Brady says:

    Another bad decision soon to be made by City Council. Street lights should come before ANY OTHER CAPITAL EXPENSE.

  9. W.Ryan says:

    What a racket! Why have a city council when they don’t make decisions on their citizens behalf! This has got to be reeled in!

  10. RayD says:

    So, street lights and sidewalks are not a priority but public toilets and field lights are. Let them eat toilets? The whole PC municipal government thing is at this point unfathomable. Misplaced priorities, inflated salaries and egos. Having dealt with it first hand, I can say it is at this point hopeless. If and when Big Jim moved on, it may be doable. Now, totally hopeless.

  11. Concerned Citizen says:

    How about allocating those funds towards street lights and sidewalks? Stop making excuses and wasting money. Ball fields are lit only during use. Streetlights are needed all thru night time hours.

    Town Center and City Center are lit up like airport runways. I bet there is money in the budget for a few street lights here and there.

    Divert the funding from Landon’s salary to make our streets safer!!

  12. steve miller says:

    OMG..I got a headache reading their explanations and “mumbo-jumbo” answers!

  13. K says:

    How can we build a decent house easily for under $200K but erecting bathrooms is over $300K?

  14. Mark101 says:

    People of Palm Coast you voted for these council members, are they doing the right thing, its appears they or should I say the majority just enjoy spending taxpayers money and grants without doing what voters really want and need. Wasting money on their projects, not yours. Remember them at reelection.

  15. Laura says:

    Another example of Landon disenfranchisement of voters. In the citizen survey voters (or at least people who tried to give input) asked for streetlights and sidewalks and Holland park to be completed. however the city manager champions over-priced sun shades, bathrooms, park lights, guilded signs stuck hidden behind bushes, new activity center, and even his own raise! Each time too, the council caves. No wonder locals don’t bother to vote! With his egoand obvious grip of power, my only surprise Is the town hasn’t (yet) been renamed ‘Landonville’

  16. Citizen says:

    Well, people have been complaining about the crime in palm coast and saying there should be more activities for the youth to stay out of trouble—well, here it is! I am so glad to see the opportunity this will have on so many teams!

  17. sports over safety says:

    How many kids were hit by cars last year? The township is choosing the few over the many. Every family will benefit from a sidewalk and more lights, while only a few will benefit from the lights at the field. Is Landon getting a kick back or something. Lets wait until one of his love ones is hit by a car due to poor lighting

  18. only the truth says:

    PC asks the citizens to take a survey and the majority of people requested more street lights and side walks and as you can see from this article, Jim Landon is not doing what us taxpayers who pays his large salary want. So, why is that? Can Mr. Landon tell us why our opinions don’t matter when we pay his salary?

  19. Hmmm says:

    ALMOST $1 MILLION FOR BATHROOMS!!!! They better wipe your butt for you. Im going to quit my job and sell Palm Coast trees, bushed, and bathrooms!!!!!

    As far as the street lights, this isn’t a “city”. No matter how small of a town you came from. If you lights everywhere, move to Miami. The accidents cant be directly attributed to lighting. More like inattentive drivers and people in the road thinking they cant get hit. If a car is present, get off the road!!

  20. Parent of 3 says:

    I agree. . I’m sure I’m not the only parent who holds their breath as their kids walk to their bus stop with a flashlight and stand at an unlit bus stop….

  21. Lived here all my life says:

    There are plenty of lights on streets in Palm Coast. Go walk in the right places if you are concerned. Although do not be selfish. Every one complains about kids and crime. Get them involved in positive things and you invest in a cities bright future!

  22. no says:

    .. they don’t even turn the lights on for the general public. Only to those private sports teams. Also they lock up the soccer goals to general public. Hm……

  23. Constance Jackson says:

    It is so important to build up the parks, exspesialy the Indian Trails sports park. I work in a hotel and soccer, baseball, lacrosse and so many more come from all over the country with their children for these tournaments. It is very important to the families and out tourist based community to keep them coming back. I do understand about the lights and sidewalks as a parent if children that need to walk to school, I understand. But understand the more money the city brings in the more money in tourist dollars the more to spend. Thank you.

  24. We the People says:

    King Landon is nearing the end of his reign of terror. If the City Council cannot stand up for our safety during their current ELECTED terms We the People will elect representatives that are not scared to death of this menace to democracy.

  25. woodchuck says:

    Really is anyone surprised?

  26. Steven Nobile says:

    Just wanted to let everyone know especially “Parent of 3”.
    You can call the city offices and request a light be put up at any intersection inside communities. So if your children are at a bus stop and that corner does not have a light all you have to do is request one and it will be installed.

    For everyone else, I want you to know that the high majority of funds in the budget cannot just be spent on whatever we want. Here is a quote from the very article above you just read; “The money for the bathrooms is from a fund with less flexibility than the money for the lights: it’s coming out of the parks impact fee fund, so it’s restricted to public-park related uses—such as bathrooms or amenities”

    If you would like to learn more about the city’s finances I would be happy to put together a town hall including myself the City Manager and the Finance Director to answer your questions. If enough people email me with this request I will make it happen.

  27. W.Ryan says:

    Born and raised says it’s a needed improvement but why is it introduced in such a manner that it cannot be deliberated so that other alternatives can be discussed. It’s sneaky and underhanded. I’m all for parks and kids but safety for the kids come first and then the activities.

  28. Veteran says:

    How about sidewalks in Matanzas Woods.

  29. Marie says:

    Not surprised. Landon pushed the new city office building on us too. Why do we allow it?
    Get Landon out? Vote out every city council member in the next election.
    Bravo @ we the people

  30. Dave says:

    VOTE THEM OUT, So for a handful of kids from palm coast,and for kids who aren’t even from here ,they get some light in a field, but for all the citizens of palm coast who must walk dark streets with no sidewalks just to go to school or work, or walking home at night, they are all just left in danger because they live here and don’t bring in tourist dollar$ ,but they pay taxes every single solitary day. Give me a break, there are beautiful homes on intracoastal waterfront that costs less than your park bathrooms.what.a.joke

  31. Beverly Taylor says:

    Really, Palm Coast, don’t you think money would be better spent protecting the citizens who pay their taxes than the visitors…. how many more deaths will it take before you realize at this pace we may not have a community…. put in lights with solar on the top …. costs nothing to run ….. let the sunshine do the work and as for the shade sails ….. really ….. how about parents don’t take their children to the park in the hottest part of the day but take a walk, ride a bike, run in the sprinklers, walk the many trails set up that are shaded …… bathrooms …. this is a Priority …. really???? Why? and for what ….. for continual maintenance …. OK who is getting rich off of the Safety of our Community ….. Palm Coast you should Really, Really, get your priorities straight or you’ll be losing more and more citizens who help fund these idiotic ideas – didn’t your parents always tell you Safety First …..

  32. We the People says:

    Mr. Nobile, given that “the money for the bathrooms is from a fund with less flexibility than the money for the lights: it’s coming out of the parks impact fee fund, so it’s restricted to public-park related uses—such as bathrooms or amenities”, a reasonable person might say our ELECTED representatives failed us in the development of OUR budget. Indeed, the ELECTED representatives of We the People decided that impact fees should support the development of recreation rather than the health, safety and welfare of the ELECTORATE and our children. You and the rest of the ELECTED representatives of We that People continue to use the ridiculous excuse that “it’s a different fund”. Well, tell us Mr. Nobile, who is responsible for OUR budget and decides how WE spend OUR money? Who decides do we build umbrellas or sidewalks? Does the Palm Coast City Council make these decisions or not?

  33. T Randy Jones says:

    We the Peoples comment go to the heart of this debate; does the Palm Coast City Council decide how the taxpayers money is spent? Yes or no?

  34. Denali says:

    The real question here is what is the return on expenditures? We have dumped millions of dollars into the Indian Trials sports complex in an effort to attract these traveling tournaments. Now we learn that the lights are not for the out of town folks but for our local kids to use at night. Here comes the hard question Mr. Landon, Does the money received by the city for hosting these tournaments during the daytime offset the costs for installing, maintaining and powering the lights when our kids use the fields at night? Maybe you could explain to us why we are spending so much more money for the lighting package than we receive from the tournaments. I for one would think that we could do without the tournaments and let our kids use the fields during the day. Oh, local business would suffer without the tournaments? Since when did it become the taxpayers obligation to support local business in this fashion? Transparency, a concept Landon and several Council members do not understand.

  35. We the People says:

    Ask your City Councilman/woman – how much NET revenue PER YEAR does the Indian Trails Sports complex realize from rental payments? $100, $1000, $100,000 and how does “profit” compare to the worth Michele Taylors life? In fact, how is it that we are even talking about lighting ball fields when our children are dying on our street?

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