Keeping up with the Flagler County Sheriff’s, the county’s, the clerk of court’s and recently even Palm Coast’s efforts to address the sheriff’s space needs can be confusing: so many buildings, timelines, possibilities, dead ends, so many different sheriff’s operations in play: that’s a consequence of the agency’s fragmentation since it evacuated the operations center in Bunnell almost a year ago.
But one pressing issue appears to have been resolved. For the next two to three years, the sheriff will move the Palm Coast district office from City Marketplace back to where the precinct used to be before 2013, in the shopping strip at 17 Old Kings Road North. Sheriff Rick Staly and Chief Mark Strobridge worked out that arrangement independent of the county and to get out from the $10,000-a-month charge at City Marketplace.
The landlord at City Marketplace raised the lease cost once it went to a month-to-month arrangement after January, for two units, including the sheriff’s Police Athletic League office. The cost was untenable for the sheriff. The county had promised him a new space for the precinct at the old Wachovia Bank building on Old Kings Road. The county bought that building for $1 million last year. The plan was to have it ready for occupancy by January. As with two other buildings the county bought since 2013, that one, too, unraveled in a muddle of unforeseen problems and cost overruns, and occupancy would not have been possible until later this year.
The space at 17 Old Kings Road is 2,000 square feet, or 1,000 square feet less than the space at City Marketplace. But it’s $3,500 a month.
“We’re only going to be there for a short amount of time, a couple of years, we need to make this work,” Strobridge said. “It is turnkey, it is ready to work, we could walk in there, put some furniture in, and we could effectively work quickly.” Both the sheriff’s and the PAL office would move into the tight space.
The sheriff’s space issue at the county courthouse is a separate, unresolved matter. On Monday, the county commission unanimously approved a motion requiring County Administrator Jerry Cameron both to compel Clerk of Court Tom Bexley to yield more space to the sheriff at the courthouse, and to resolve the leasing of the Palm Coast precinct. The sheriff told the commission its involvement in the precinct leasing was moot.
“I have the legal authority to sign the lease myself and I can probably move that faster than the board can,” Staly told the commissioners. He said the lease at 17 Old Kings Road would save $78,000 a year based on the current rent at City Marketplace. “I can make that happen tomorrow,” he said.
The lease at Old Kings Road includes all costs but electricity, phone and Internet costs. Strobridge said the landlord did not mention common area maintenance charges (or CAM). The elase may be cancelled within 90 days. “So when the new district office is ready, we can cancel without any penalties for a period of three years.”
The county in April voted to build a $12 to $15 million Palm Coast district office for the sheriff on the grounds of the Flagler County Public Library along Palm Coast Parkway. Initially county officials talked of a two-year timeline. Now it’s typically “two to three years,” when they discuss it. Once that building is completed, the precinct office at 17 Old Kings will be redundant.
Last week Palm Coast offered the sheriff to have a look at several city properties, such as the Utility Department office on Utility Drive and Water Treatment Plant #2 on U.S. 1. City, county and sheriff’s officials visited the locations. The city was willing to move some employees to make a space work. Those options proved too complicated, though they illustrated a more cooperative relationship between city and county governments that may pay other dividends in the future.