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After Fierce Backlash, Council Kills $200,000 “Palm Coast” Sign on I-95 Overpass Landon Planned

| October 5, 2017

The Palm Coast Parkway overpass at I-95 will not be cluttered with an expensive 'Palm Coast' sign, the city council declared. (© FlaglerLive)

The Palm Coast Parkway overpass at I-95 will not be cluttered with an expensive ‘Palm Coast’ sign, the city council declared.
(© FlaglerLive)

There will be no $200,000 sign spelling out “Palm Coast” on the Palm Coast Parkway overpass at I-95, the city council decided Tuesday: the backlash was too much after the story came to light.

“Over the last five or six days I’ve gotten more phone calls and hate mail and all kinds of nasty things on the I-95 sign,” Council member Steven Nobile, who was the sign’s most ardent supporter, said, opting out of the proposal. The FlaglerLive story detailing the proposal drew upward of 400 comments, a significantly high number for a local government story, all but a handful opposed. The opposition was in turn angry, disbelieving, ridiculing and often aghast that such a proposal would be put forth to begin with.

City Manager Jim Landon first proposed the idea to the council in March 2016, before a different majority of the council, calling it “branding.” At the time he said the cost would be $50,000 to $100,000, a gap that troubled one of the council members. He was not given a go-ahead so much as told to further explore the details of the project before the council could decide. He brought back the idea to the council last week, and mentioned in passing, in a mumble that council members likely did not hear clearly, that the cost was now estimated at $200,000, never noting that it was double or quadruple what he had told the previous council.

He provided little context for the project, did not mention that the money, coming out of the street improvement fund, is discretionary and could be spent on more pressing needs (street repairs, sidewalks, paths), nor explained why the cost was so high. He said it gives Palm Coast the chance to have a sign like Orlando and Jacksonville, but did not explain why Palm Coast, ranked 30th in the state by population, should have a sign mimicking those of the most populous city (Jacksonville) and that of one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Nobile spoke enthusiastically about the proposal, which drew just a few minutes’ worth of attention before the council moved on to a different topic.

It was only the latest in a series of miscalculations by Landon. The public response was swift and unforgiving.

The council had given Landon the go-ahead for the project at a workshop, when Landon, as is his wont, noted that he didn’t need the council’s approval to move ahead for the stage his staff was working on, but just wanted to get an idea of whether the council was still on board. On Tuesday, Nobile asked when the council would get a chance to weigh in more formally. That would have possibly be to approve the cost of design, but only if that cost exceeded $30,000.

The initial estimate for design was over $30,000, Carl Cote, the city’s construction manager, said. He was trying to bring it down below $30,000. Landon made clear why: “The reason why that’s important is if their contract for the design is over $30,000 that would have to take approval from the city council, if it’s not, it would not require your approval,” Landon said.

jim landon

Jim Landon. (© FlaglerLive)

And by not requiring approval for that step, Landon would accomplish what he’s done in the past: get the first, crucial phases of a project completed and paid for, then present additional steps that do require council approval, but make rejecting the project much more difficult, since thousands of dollars would have already been spent.

It didn’t work that way this time.

“What people are saying is there’s needs and there’s wants,” Council member Heidi Shipley said, echoing one of former Mayor Jon Netts’s favored phrases when it comes to spending tax dollars. “And after our taxes got raised, they’re saying we don’t want you to spend any money unless it’s a need. And they don’t see this as a need. I don’t see it as a need. They don’t see it as a need, and I think it’s something we need to put on the back burner. It’s just not necessary right now. I think that’s what they’re looking for, for us to only do the things that are necessary. That’s how I take all that hate mail.”

Nobile agreed, though he took a round-about way to get there after himself throwing the stop sticks on the idea. (He and Shipley face a re-election campaign in a few months and cannot afford the sort of public backlash that seizes on easily defined issues.) He said he still thought the sign was a good idea “to raise awareness of Palm Coast.” He did not explain why the more distinctive and often arresting sight of the Palm Coast sign on the enormous water tower by I-95 was not accomplishing that very purpose, as Mayor Milissa Holland suggested it was last week, though not to oppose the additional signage. Nobile suggested that the $200,000 sign would “pay for itself” in the form of tax dollars (“I’m not talking about people coming in and saying oh I want to live here now, but getting off and using our gas stations and restaurants”), an unlikely result, at least for many years, as the bulk of sales taxes are remitted to the state and only a fraction of gas taxes return locally–feeding the street improvement fund, but usually not to pay for advertising signage.

“However,” Nobile went on, “I don’t believe that if we don’t put it up, we’re going to lose anything. So we’re not going to get hurt if we don’t put it up. Given the attacks and the firm objections to this project, I would suggest one of two things. That we don’t move further on it, or we bring up the design for a vote regardless of what the price is, so we can do it that way, bring it up or down, before any more real dollars are put in. $30,000 is significant to put into something that may not pass.”

He then suggested to simply “put it on hold.” Holland agreed. “We have flooding in the streets, we need to make tough decisions about stormwater issues,” she said, “that’s a critical need for our community. Those are decisions that are tough for some time. Signage is not one of them.”

Later in the meeting, Landon wanted to be clear: Landon: “I wasn’t real sure if we’re talking about bringing it to city council for a formal project or just stopping the whole project?” he asked the mayor.

“I think we’re stopping the project,” Holland replied unhesitatingly.

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125 Responses for “After Fierce Backlash, Council Kills $200,000 “Palm Coast” Sign on I-95 Overpass Landon Planned”

  1. He’s also the only one calling for the destruction of the long time cat colony at Linear Park. Even after hundreds of citizen’s comments, he’s the hold out!

  2. Common sense does exist in PC

  3. Doesn’t the city manager report to a higher authority? How can he derail the city’s agreement for the TNR cat program? All council members are on board but he is against it and supposedly makes the final decision? How soon does he retire?

  4. I don’t think the sign was an issue it’s the bogus price tag attached to it…

  5. Rick Sanchez says:

    Jim Landon is an idiot

  6. Great decision! Monies needed in so many other areas of the city.

  7. I’m from Akron Ohio and moved here about 6 years ago, they did his exact thing on one of the bridges of Akron and since doing so it’s been nothing but a joke to the city residents and those who reside near the city. It’s a waste of money that could be used for many other worthy projects. So glad they killed this project!

  8. Mary Lynn Crosby says:

    If Mr. Landon wants that sign so badly, he can pay for it out of his own pocket. Palm Coast needs other things more than that sign. I hope it is dropped for good.

  9. Someone volunteered to do it for $50. Why don’t they find that guy!

  10. Good job !! There’s so many more important things we need in palm coast that we could use that money for !!

  11. Use the moneys to fix the floodings

  12. Very proud of the residents of palm coast for fighting on this one it proves that we have a voice

  13. John Foti says:

    Why does he not take care of the flooding here in Palm Coast? Really don’t understand. Our roads are still with debris, after how long? Really ? I think we need a sign with Flood zone ahead,
    Needs to get his Butt out of his head.

  14. Frank Ernst says:

    We need to replace the city manager who has raised taxes 14% and wants to present costly foolish proposals to the council to waste more tax dollars so he can raise taxes another 14% next year.

  15. Signs really don’t tempt drivers to exit for gas, food etc., people use their smart phones to do the work for them while their seated in their cars. Signs have gone the same was as newspapers, extinct. Why do our local politicians just think of wasting our tax dollar and not survey our city to fix real needs.

  16. Amanda, I’m so glad they are spending the money elsewhere

  17. Why don’t we get rid of the city manager and save ourselves another $200,000 a year.

  18. Sw says:

    Just a matter of time til lame brain finds another unneeded pet project to needlessly pursue

  19. Smart move. So unnecessary.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This project should only cost 20 – 40 thousand dollars maximum and that is because of contractor insurance costs and traffic control for safety on this busy bridge. The letters and their installation costs are negiable and the city road and bridge department is capale of doing this work and I don’t know why there was even an outside vendor allowed to price the project. Someone please explain this.

  21. Doreen Daley says:

    Let’s not waste money

  22. Chuck Bird says:

    Seemed like a frivolous expense….Good news!

  23. Thank you Flagler Live! Keep keeping us in the know

  24. At least they listen to the people. Other parts of the country couldn’t care less what the people say.

  25. Lets vote on eliminating the City Manager position. Lets vote on who decided to spend 400 thousand on shade thingys in the playground that are not practical, just cute. Who the hell had that idea.?? I tent would have been cheaper. A metal covered garage port would have been cheaper. They spend our money like it is theirs.

  26. John dolan says:

    The people have spoken. Thank God.

  27. woodchuck says:

    A short term win for the taxpayers,our council will find some other crap to piss away our ever dwindling tax revenue.

  28. There are other issues in the city that need addressing not a 200,000 sign. Good decision

  29. 200.000. For a sign . I glad they voted it down

  30. Diane Lemon says:

    How much more out of touch can these council people be .

  31. He will do it anyway like he does everything else he wants despite the people not wanting it. He should have been fired years ago instead of renewing his contract for 2 years.

  32. Good. They could have gotten private business’s to support the project, but not at taxpayers’ expense.

  33. Sign 10.000 190.000 off shore account party time

  34. PC priorities, Will Johns. This place is a joke

  35. Now we need to get rid of Landon and stop adding strip malls and make the city inviting to corporations so people can earn a living wage.

  36. Lisa Hubach says:

    I just read they approved raising taxes for residents 14 percent and then I read these proposals that are so over the top. They want to build a sustainable community and will fall all over themselves for more growth, yet they are driving homeowners away, just sayin

  37. Rich Latko says:

    This is Great! Now where else can we stop wasting money. Maybe where these people are getting fat raises and still screwing up!

  38. Anonymous says:

    Is is shameful the council members and mayor couldn’t realize this was outrageous and unneeded when it first came before them. Those running for public office need to pass a stupidity test before they can qualify! Some people around here are eat up with the dumb ass!!!!

  39. Great! Uneeded and a huge waste of money

  40. Justin says:

    I honestly think that the sign would be a good idea. But 200,000 is a lot of money for it.

  41. It’s called we the people and we have spoken!!!!!

  42. Good it was a dumbass idea

  43. Judy says:

    Finally the City Council has listened to its citizens. Refreshing for a change.

  44. Landon needs to be gone!!
    This path behind my home was given the ok also without knowledge of cost. Just ridiculous!!

  45. As they should have. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised and proud they listened to the community.

  46. How does that idiot still have a job!

  47. Kim Gordon says:

    Think Palm coast really should listen to the people who live here.We want underground wire so we dont have to go 10 or more freaking days with no power. We want the people who own these lots have the trees cut down that could reach peoples homes and the lines (until we get underground wire) and done like NOW …. I know i am sick of paying to fix my property because of someones lot that they dont have to do a dam thing to.would save us a ton of money by not having comps. from all over the country come and help us IF U WOULD HAVE THEM CUT THESE TREES We want street light on the ends of our roads so we can atleast go out for a walk and not be in complete darkness . why not ask the people what they want im sure this is the top things i hear people all the time we all complaine about the same things here and PALM COAST DONT LISTEN.. might be time to put people in charge that will…

  48. BlueJammers says:

    Obviously, Flagler Live has saved the day! Thank you!

  49. Eric Dubin says:

    Amazing how many “consultant” fees get paid around here. And I am sure Jim Landon makes a nice cut on those..

  50. Here’s a thought, keep flooding the offices with calls, keep going to council meetings and objecting to frivolous things that Landon wants to spend money on! Keep up the pressure and hoping he will get the boot! Like Tom Petty’s song, Don’t Back Down!

  51. Ok, can we get sidewalks now for these children?

  52. Ria Francis says:

    If i didn’t still own two home in this city, i will drive pass it and no amount of signs they put up will ever encourage me to exit and enter this corrupt town th ef y call Palm Coast. Your city is spending your/our tax payers money trying to convict me of a crime i didnt commit. No surprise they will spend money like this on a sign.

  53. Jim Sheehan says:

    This isn’t over. If Landon decides he wants that sign, it will go up. No different than the path through the F section to the High School that the residents don’t want or the new city hall that was voted down TWICE!

  54. Capt says:

    The citizens won this one, now vote all of these people out of office.

  55. use the money to build housing for low income; or low income senior housing…I sure could use it

  56. Is it small minded of me to not give a crap about the I 95 sign or sidewalks or underground wires or beautification of our city when I still have my ginormous pile of tree branches and debris from the last hurricane that hasn’t been picked up so my lawn is rotting underneath, and the swale is overflowing and won’t drain? Any answers on that?

  57. Putting underground wires for electricity is not something the city would do. FPL would do that.

  58. Kerry Vomero says:

    Now put solar street lights up

  59. According to the city charter, the councils job is to set policy, the managers job is to carry out that policy. The Old council decided they would let the manager set policy and carry it out, thought things would change with a new mayor/council-appears like it hasn’t changed.

  60. Although we won this one victory, doesnt mean we really won anything yet. That project is on ‘hold’. It could come back up before any of the other important needs of this community come up or are dealt with. Steven Nobile needs to go for sure. Ppl do your homework for this election. We need a new mayor who will put Landon in his place or even better yet FIRE him! We need council members, a city manager and a mayor who is going to do what is best for our community. We need so many other things done and I’m personally sick of Landon spending our tax dollars frivolously and not proposing it to the council members for a fair approval or denial of projects. So when we vote let’s make sure that we do our homework and make the city hear us. We are sick of our money being wasted! We won’t tolerate it any longer! Start listening to the needs of your community and do the things that will benefit the safety of this community and not just b/c the election is around the corner, but throughout the whole term!

  61. Meghan Cavas says:

    Let’s put street lights in where residents don’t have to pay! Maybe…just maybe, we will see the amt of car breaks go down! They won’t do it if they are seen easier!

  62. They heard us about the Palm Coast sign over I 95 so hear this City Council WE ALL AGREE WE WANT LANDON FIRED!!!! You want to be re elected then make this happen asap! It will cost us money to get rid of him but it will be worth it and cheaper in the long run! FIRE LANDON IMMEDIATELY! We the people have spoken numerous times! Hear us or we will vote you out! We are DONE with Landon and everyone allowing him to do whatever he wants with our money. DONE!

  63. GY says:

    About time City Council listened to the taxpayers. So many other more important needs that can be met with $200,000,

  64. Can we pleade have a City Police force to halt all the crime and murders happening in Palm Coast now?

  65. Concerned Citizen says:

    Thank you Flagler Live for bringing this story into the light.

    Dear Palm Coast Leaders,

    Instead of wasting away our tax dollars on frivolous projects why not use the time to plan for street light’s and sidewalks? If you have 200,000 to spend on a sign then you have 200,000 to use towards safety improvements. NO EXCUSES !!

    If the mayor had 10,000 dollars to blow on an outdated marketing radio platform use that money towards Hurricane recovery.

    Instead of lighting ball fields you could have provided lights for sidewalks and saved lives. The list goes on but you get it.

    Instead of hiring an outside vendor to head up your obviously fake work shops for the charter open the doors to the public and do the right thing. If the charter needs redoing then suck it up and re do it.

    All we ask is that you do your job and that is to represent us properly, manage our tax dollars wisely and improve our city for long term gain not short term personal profit.

    In the private sector if you perform poorly at your job you are terminated. As an elected official we have to wait until election time to get you out.

    Do the right thing and represent your constituents properly and give us a reason to re-elect you. Stop using your office as a free ride.

    We are on to your shenanigans and Flagler Live will keep us informed. ;)


    Concerned Citizen

  66. well, that’s good to hear….planning a move to PC sometime in the hopefully not too distant future….and glad to see something that makes sense

  67. They getting smart then! ,

  68. Gene Allen says:

    Buy a few cans of spray paint

  69. Laura Marie says:

    Good! Save the tax payers some money!

  70. They should take that money n put in lights n sidewalks.

  71. John says:

    Guaranty if you dig, Landon has some tie to the contractor!!! All, sorry the majority, so called public servants, regardless of party, are soon corrupted upon taking office, by the ruling establishment. But, no one has the balls to confront it. Sad sad future for our country…

  72. Ken ponsiek says:

    Use the money to pick up hurricane debris..
    One month already and nothing ihas been picked up…but God help you if your grass gets 6 inches high…a bit of hypocrisy?????

  73. Sidewalks would be nice, and maybe now they can pick up the debris from the last hurricane and clean out the swail’s . Lots of work needs to be done here in PC.

  74. Amen they should be more worried about the floodings then this dam sign . Start with getting the flooding under control first

  75. So glad it “bits” the dust.

  76. Mike says:

    Are you kidding me $200,000.00 for a sign ????? And we can’t get sidewalks or street lights on old kings road To protect pedestrians but let’s put up a sign. What a waste of palm coast resources. I know when the next elections are here I will be voting out the waste that we have running our city.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Thank god! With the sign people might have actually confused palm coast with a nice place to live and stopped there…..

  78. Why don’t they use blue Solo cups and stick them in the fence and it will cost less then $50

  79. Maybe Bunnell would cost less?

  80. Why don’t we just FIX the sign that blew down in the hurricane by the southbound exit at Palm Coast parkway? That’s a start–I’m sure it won’t cost $200K to do that!

  81. COACH D says:

    Thank you city council. Now can we do something about the AIRBNB problems popping up all around our Palm Coast neighborhoods?—–I get new people next door on a daily/2-3-4 day cycle !!—–and they are not being screened !!!!!——–THIS IS A NIGHTMARE !!—-DO NOT FEEL SAFE IN OUR OWN HOME !!!—-PLEASE HELP !!———-THANK YOU .

  82. Thank you for having a brain cell. That money can be used for much more important things.

  83. Clean all,the drains out first

  84. smarterthanmost says:

    So the council finally grew a pair. Now grow another pair and fire Landon, his “ideas” are too toxic, not to mention to0 expensive, for Palm Coast

  85. Realist says:

    Landon must go. The council needs to grow some resolve.

  86. GT says:

    Time to replace these people we have put in office to run our city. It’s why we have elections if they don’t do their jobs to everyone’s satisfaction vote them out! This sign thing is just the latest in a string of bad calls made by our city council.

  87. Doug Brown says:

    Good decision. Taxes are going up and they want to waste money on a sign. Just plan stupid use of tax payers money.

  88. tulip says:

    I think one of the big reasons the council “listened” and did what the voters wanted is because 2 of them are up for re election. Hope there are some good choices this time around.

  89. Doug Brown says:

    I worked for the Connecticut DOT for 30 years. I have never in my career seen more poorly maintained drainage facilities. Drainage is THE most important thing in highway maintenance, yet nearly every single drainage ditch, waterway, catch basins are either blocked or covered with debris. If you want to keep your roads from washing out, prevent flooding CLEAN YOUR DRAINAGE FACILITIES. When you have a Weather forecast for rain send crews out to clean the basin and tops open the ditches. Picking litter is NOT a good use of man power during a rain storm.

  90. BRAVO! I think the giant blueberry (blue water tower) with “Palm Coast” on it is a visible enough landmark without wasting $200K on a sign that is not necessary. Priorities!!

  91. Jimi Barrett says:

    The people have spoken! Maybe everyone is finally starting to realize the Landon really needs to go. To many pet projects and they’re all overly expensive.

  92. Bill harvey says:

    We should put a signup over 95 “Don’t live here because assholes run this city”

  93. Just the truth says:

    Now Mr. Nobile listen to the taxpayers of PC again and get rid of Jim Landon, we want him out, he is bleeding our taxpayers pockets with his outrageous salary and benefits.

  94. palmcoaster says:

    I would say that if the local business like hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. etc. think like I imagine, the sign will attract more business to the city then would be fair that as they would benefit that they will donate and open a sign fund to pay and maintenance of the sing. I believe would be good exposure advertisement for them a city light sign on the overpass. Also they should look for bids of the city specs provided and find better prices.
    Also our County Tourism Council sustained by the bed tax of our local hospitality industry should be asked to fund it. Not us just the city taxpayers that will not benefit as much as the business community.
    I also agree that our current city drainage and sewer systems need urgent attention. Lets impose a moratorium on new developments homes or businesses until our sewer system at least in the east side of I-95 serviced by only one treatment plant at the end of Utility drive is upgraded/enlarged or connected to the new plant to be built off Rt 1 in 2018. The caravan day and night of the sewage tank trucks out of the 2 lift station day and night, one block from each other by Clubhouse and Palm Coast Pkway with every heavy rain, are well intended to prevent sewer back up in our homes but are not the solution and is very concerning to all.

  95. palmcoaster says:

    The mentioned sign in I-95 South or any other down, I believe is under the jurisdiction of the Florida DOT.
    District 5 Central Florida (Deland) 800-780-7102

  96. MRC says:

    Well, well, well City Council….The only reason you changed your mind was due to public outlash??!! Read these comments and catch a clue! First of all, we need some very extensive infrastructure work in this city, which should be your focus such as: requiring all electrical lines to be buried, installing storm sewers, sidewalks, street lights, and requiring all vacant lots to be cleared. This is what the citizens want, not some foo-foo unneeded beautification project. How do we raise the money for the seriously needed infrastructure work? If you had a decent city manager, perhaps he/she would do some restructuring of city departments and create a dedicated department whose only job is obtaining grant monies to help pay for needed infrastructure development/changes. I know for a fact that a couple of years ago there was federal money available to pay for street repairs, sidewalks, etc. I know because I applied and was approved for repair of my sidewalk (this was in the former city I lived in that had their proverbial stuff together!). There is money available out there that we could desperately use! Another way you can cure some water drainage problems and sidewalk needs is to require land developers to install storm sewers, domestic sewers, and water services to each lot upon the development/sale of each parcel (residential and commercial). Sidewalks should be installed at the time of development by the city. Street lights should also be placed at approximately every 100 feet on EVERY residential street, not just on every corner as others suggested. For instance, I live on a very curvy street, and there is no lighting at all to help one negotiate the curves successfully I am also very worried about children having to walk on dark streets to get to a bus stop.
    I have been scared to death by driving up my street in the total darkness and almost hitting some children walking to the bus stop. This is unacceptable!!! And guess what? Sidewalks in addition to street lights should take care of the problem! As far as electrical service is concerned, how about this city moving into the 21st century and going “green” by using solar power for the majority of our electrical needs. Quit just going with the status quo and explore all options. If we turned to solar power for most of our needs, FPL for one, would quickly decide to get on board and change. But, all of these changes will never happen with the current city manager, who effectively runs the city, and a city council who are only interested in making their jobs as worry free as possible by letting the said city manager make all of the decisions as to how city money will be spent, and the direction that the city moves in. Kick that idiot to the curb!! Sure it will cost money to buy out the remainder of his contract. But it would be the best thing that ever happened to this city. It would be money well spent!!! And City Council, we will be remembering your unacceptable action/inaction, when we go to the ballot box. We are watching you!!!

  97. tim thoms says:

    too bad..i like the makes our city look BIG TIME..instead of quaint, cause it aint!!

  98. Concerned Citizen says:

    Y’ALL voted Jim Landon in and didn’t do such a good job at reading his background. Now he has failed so many of Y’ALL. They “LIE” just to get VOTED IN. And then ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.This city doesn’t need “BEAUTIFICATION”. It needs SIDEWALKS FOR OUR CHILDREN & STREET LIGHTS ALL OVER THE PLACE. It needs better DRAINAGE FOR STORMS. We need BETTER SERVICE to pick up THE TRASH AFTER THE STORMS. I’m still looking at this BROWN DEBRIS ON MY STREET. DO BETTER WITH THAT PLANNING. STOP SPENDING OUR MONEY ON FOOLISH GADGETS. And put it to GOOD USE. GET OUT OF HERE LANDON

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