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Divided Council Approves $5.6 Million Park Additions, Including ‘Splash Pad’ At Holland and Pickleball Courts at Ralph Carter

| April 3, 2019

Future splash at Holland Park. (© FlaglerLive)

Hampered by delays and cost overruns though it was, the complete, 30-month reconstruction of Holland Park had cost $4.7 million by the time it opened two years ago. The park immediately became the city’s most luxurious. Tuesday evening, the Palm Coast City Council approved a super-luxury upgrade: a $5.14 million plan to add amenities to the park, including a “splash pad,” shade for bocce courts and lights for shuffleboard, tennis, volleyball and other courts. The council also approved a $475,000 plan to build pickleball courts at Ralph Carter Park.

The decision divided the council, with Mayor Milissa Holland, council members Nick Klufas and Bob Cuff in favor, and Jack Howell and Eddie Branquinho opposed.

The item drew a contingent of pickleball-playing residents to the meeting, most of whom did not like the city’s decision to not build two courts previously planned for Holland Park, though six will be built at Ralph Carter Park. Some unspoken prejudice may have lurked behind the opposition: Ralph Carter Park is in the R-Section and draws on a substantial minority and black population. It’s been the scene of racially tinged tensions in 2011 and 2015. Holland Park is in the whiter F Section.

The additions at Holland Park will provide “all of the amenities that the community has been talking about for years,” Interim Manager Beau Falgout said–playground zones, the splash pad (which is intended to fit in the architecture of the park so as to reflect Florida’s larger topography), lighting for horseshoe, volleyball, tennis, racquetball, pickleball and shuffleboard courts, bocce ball court rehabilitation and new covering, a maintenance building, renovation of Pavilion 3 and to restrooms.

BBI Construction management, the contractor for Phase 2 at Holland Park, had initially submitted a $7 million plan. The cost was too high for the city, whose staffers worked with the contractor to bring down the cost to $5.14 million. The original $600,000 cost at Ralph Carter Park was also brought down.

Branquinho decried the high costs, especially when contrasted with the city’s difficulties in securing the necessary millions to upgrade its public works facility, where safety rather than play is at issue. Some of Branquinho’s numbers were off, but his point remained: “I want to make sure that’s not just going to be for amenities.”

Howell had “a major issue” with the splash park, recalling his time in Jacksonville when he supervised ocean rescue and experienced the city’s opening of a splash park. “It was a nightmare,” he said. “I had to provide lifeguards there not for drowning but for first aid from scrapes and falls and having broken arms, parents don’t wash their kids, the other problem we had is kids were tracking dirt which in turn tracked in mud. The filtration system was a nightmare to deal with.” He said residents have access to the ocean and to a city pool. The splash park, he said, is not needed.

Klufas acknowledged the issues with splash parks–in the past. A lot of the safety issues with such parks have been re-engineered. “Kids do enjoy splash pads, and you can’t take a toddler to the ocean, and that’s really where we’re lacking a bunch of options for younger parents in Palm Coast, we don’t really have amenities for the zero to 4 year olds.”

For the second straight council meeting Howell, whose own filtration system often falters, condescended to Klufas, first lecturing him about parenting, then telling him that he lived through something Klufas didn’t.

Public sentiment was largely opposed to the plans. An E-Section resident criticized the city’s decision to forego pickleball courts at Holland Park and favor a splash pad instead, saying splash pads likely won’t be used in cold weather, the way Pickleball courts can be, among other issues. Others were also critical of the city’s decision. “We need dedicated courts, we have none in the city,” one said, even though the city is adding pickleball courts–just not where they want them. A P-Section resident who was critical of the decision, and who would have had readier access to Ralph Carter Park, said the courts should have been placed “in a convenient location where there are restaurants, hotels,” which could bring revenue to the city. “Splash pads, they won’t add to our economy, but pickleball can.” Others contrasted the city’s focus on water conservation with its plan for an amenity that would use a lot of water.

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32 Responses for “Divided Council Approves $5.6 Million Park Additions, Including ‘Splash Pad’ At Holland and Pickleball Courts at Ralph Carter”

  1. @m says:

    … and no money for homeless shelter… and no money for a real senior center…

  2. Lnzc says:

    We need the parks for a few that play
    Not many children
    What a joke you council members are,what a waste of money,what are you going to raise to pay for It?
    Need to spend money to get jobs

  3. Outside Looking Out says:

    Let’s see how many teenagers use the lighted shuffle board courts, splash around on a splash pad. Let’s see how many learn to play bocce and pickleball.
    So wonderful to see the council spending money they don’t have on a super-luxury park for old folks. Just more ludicrous ideas of elected officials. What happens when the dinosaurs die?

  4. Shark says:

    Time to get rid of holland and the rest of the jackasses running this town !!!!

  5. Damien Esmond says:

    I live a few blocks from Holland park, with a 7 year old daughter and we use it all the time. We moved here right after it was completed so lucky us, she still goes to Rimfire Elementary, so we also use Ralph Carter park a lot, and enjoy the shade there (I wish Holland had shades like that!!!). I agree w/ Klufas, the ocean isn’t really all that accessible, You pay a toll and over the bridge its all private golf course condos… Its a bit of a drive to go down to 100 and beach it over at the pier if you can find parking. So a splash park would be welcome, there seems to be two community pools for some reason built right on top of each other?!?! At least there is now something for kids to do to cool off over on this side of I95, and the artificial padded carpet at holland won’t add to filtration problems the way splash parks on beaches do. Holland park is the Jewel of Palm Coast and on any day is packed with kids of all ages playing to their hearts content…

  6. Doug A says:

    More money spent. and still no street lights on Belle Terre!!

  7. David S. says:

    What a bunch of idiots. Get rid of these stupid people please……

  8. John Brady says:

    What was not reported was the fact said the City is going to go ahead with plans to make the 2 lanes of traffic on Whiteview into one lane. This cost was reported to be in “the neighborhood of one million” The latest estimate is 1.9 million.This waste which makes no sense, will be this Council’s Sheriff Operation Center albatros

    Any tennis court can be used for pickle ball but a pickle ball court can not be used for tennis. So it would make sense to build tennis courts that can be used for pickle ball.

    The above niceties cost 5.6 million. Added together the cost is 7.5 million .

    These wants approved by City Council is contrary to what the Mayor has identified as a high need refit of the Public Works building. The Council needs to stop spending on amenities when by they own research has identified the working conditions to be dangerous at the Public Works building.

    The good news is that the three Council members who voted to waste your money will be up for reelection in November 2020. We just need to remember to vote out Holland, Klufas and Cuff. These three have spent on niceties once again and failed to exercise good judgement.

    Branquiho and Howell deserve our gratitude for voting no

  9. atilla says:

    We sure don’t need a homeless shelter for hobos and bums. They can leave and go back where they came from. They’re not welcome here. Hopefully they’re snowbird and fly out of town or go sleep in the parks and see how that goes over.

  10. Percy's mother says:

    We don’t need a real senior center. We’ve got the new and improved community center on Clubhouse Drive seniors can be taking advantage of.

  11. Edith Campins says:

    Where is the money coming from? Don’t we have a facilities center that urgently needs replacement? What about the homeless?
    How much will the liability insurance for these amenities cost the city?
    Let’s hope they do a better job of selecting a contractor otherwise it will take years to see anything happen. Remember the mess with the park?

  12. tulip says:

    Why does it seem like Holland has her own private “venture” paid for by us citizens? I had no complaints when she got that park put together in remembrance of her father and it was a dog park and had a little playground. Now it seems like it’s turning into something more than that. Who knows, vendors selling hot dogs and soda there might be next. I think it’s an exorbitant amount of money for this luxury when it could be spent on something more worth while.

    As far as real little kids having a splash pad—little kids wear diapers and who knows what would leak out of them and sure enough some dog owners will let their dog in it.

  13. MRC says:

    And yet no street lights, sidewalks, and insufficient infrastructure….your real priorities are once more rearing their ugly heads. Time for change Palm Coast!

  14. Queenie says:

    We need street lights more than a splash pad. Also, instead of talking about cutting Whiteview down to 2 lanes why don’t you talk about making it 4 lanes all the way through. There are already more cars on the road than the road can handle!! Get off your behinds and drive down Whiteview, Belle Terre, Palm Coast Parkway and see for yourself!!! And there are 2 sensible men on the city council–get rid of the other 3 people!!!!!

  15. Mike West says:

    I, for one, would rather my tax dollars be spent on things for the growing “younger” population of Palm Coast. While I am not one of the “younger” generation, it is common sense that Palm Coast will slowly be changing from a retirement town to a vibrant younger town, or it will die as we elders pass on. I strongly oppose a single cent of tax dollars being spent on the homeless unless it is in getting rid of them. Remember, the homeless are often offered shelters, but turn it down in favor of the freedom they have. During the recent “Drug” roundup but the Flagler Sheriff’s Drug Task Force, 2 of the “unfortunate” homeless people you all feel sorry for were included in this drug sting for dealing drugs, and yes, near the library!

  16. bill nelson says:

    Until now, I thought Whiteview was a dead issue! How STUPID can our leaders be wanting to move BACKWARDS while the city is trying to move forward?? I can only hope it means “BYE BYE HOLLAND, CUFF AND KLUFAS. You are proving once again to be POOR representatives “of the people”

  17. Vivian says:

    Seriously, people??? A splash pad!!..where kids will pee, diapers will empty, mud and dirt tracked in!! Gross!! And what ever happened to the “shade” for the small dog park, where older dog-owners can not even enjoy in the summer because THERE IS NO SHADE!!! Why does the large dog park have a lovely shaded gazebo and a table and benches while small dog park has NOTHING? Promises, promises, promises….for 2 years now…and STILL NO SHADE IN SMALL DOG PARK. CITY COUNCIL, MAYOR….ALL LIARS!!!

  18. Stretchem says:


  19. John Brady says:

    hey What a waste, I guess it is an alternative fact that these elected officials who vote to wastefully spend our are really Republicans. They are registered Republicans and have been supported by the local Republican Party. You seem to want to alter reality to fit your beliefs. No surprise because that what Republicans do.

    I am a life long Democrat and since my arrival here, I have been railing about the wasteful spending and excessive debt of Palm Coast. Why? Because I know as should our elected Republicans that bills must be paid and if not now then by future residents and who is the most severely impacted? That would be the people with low wages and seniors on a fixed income.

    Face reality regardless how uncomfortable the truths maybe

  20. aloyd hurley says:

    I, do not like you using the Black and White section. Palm Coast is set up as an integrated community. We do not have Spanish, German, Polish and other race section.

  21. oldtimer says:

    But still no solution for where to house the sheriff department?

  22. Unknown says:

    It seems like monies should be spent for citizen safety, i.e. street lights and sidewalks instead. Sounds like the city government has their priorities skewed.

  23. tulip says:

    To Mike West, I agree with you that amenities should be in place for the younger generation, as they are the future. I agree that a city should have amenities in place for every age group. However, I think the splash pad and some of the exorbitant expenses of this type are out of line. Little kids like swings and playgrounds where they can run around and play and interact with other kids. That’s their mindset and could care less if there are fancy splash pads. Take the little ones to the beach and let them splash around the edge of the water or in one the little indents that retain a little water for a bit. That’s what we and thousands of other families have done for years. People complain they would have to drive to the beach to do that. well, unless people live in close walking distance to the park, they would have to drive to the park to use the splash. Having some pickleboard courts is a nice idea, as a large and divirsified age group can participate in that game.

    Kids and adults need safe places to walk and ride bicycles and have well lit places at night to be seen by drivers and others as they walk their dogs or just enjoy a nighttime walk when it’s nice out. Young people like to have a place where they can go and play sports or skateboard whenever they want to.

    In other words, the council needs to take an open minded and serious look at what would make the entire city better for the most people and sensible spending of this money and, and when those things are taken care of then consider a “nice to have” amenity . JMO

  24. Terrence says:

    This is nice, but what we really need is a overhauled skatepark, so that we can make Wadsworth park skatepark a destination on the map, and that could generate quite a bit of income if we build businesses around that. But the council isn’t worried about the young adults and teenagers in Flagler county, they are more worried about old people and HOAs who are collective dictators.

  25. FPC Granny says:

    @Queenie well said and fully summed up for me!!

  26. Native Floridian says:

    Could someone tell us what Pickleball is and where it came from?!!

  27. palmcoaster says:

    First played in Washington State and I heard is popular in CA. . Ask your Councilman Flukas says he loves it, looks like as much as Fiber Optic Cable Broadband and IT Innovation jargon.

  28. tulip says:

    Google pickleball. It’s a cross between tennis and badminton. Looks like fun and less strenuous than tennis and more strenuous than badminton. Great exercise!

  29. cruiser33 says:

    Like I said many times before on here… The 3 Stooges need to go. REMEMBER this when it’s time to vote

  30. Richard Calderwood says:

    A splash pond for the little darlings?? My parents handled that issue years. They bought a garden hose! Simple, affordable and no cost to the taxpayer. I must be genius!!

  31. SeminoleUS says:

    There is a distinct lack of benches for sitting around the soccer fields and lack of trash receptacles everywhere in the park. These types of ‘amenities’ should be addressed before extravagant expenditures.

  32. Anonymous44 says:

    What is pickleball? Don’t you proofread what you write?

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