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Heiser Time Over: Tourism Council’s Trusted Executive Resigns; Turbulence Ahead

| October 20, 2011

Peggy Heiser was the Flagler Tourist Development Council's monthly star attraction.

Peggy Heiser was the Flagler Tourist Development Council's monthly star attraction.

In an abrupt move that shocked even her closest ally on the Tourist Development Council, Peggy Heiser, tourism’s chief executive in Flagler County for the past six years and the shepherd of its “Quiet Side of Florida” campaign, announced her resignation on Thursday, saying she’d taken another marketing position. The position is reportedly in Lake Mary, though she’ll also be doing some marketing for her husband’s company.

“All good things must come to an end and so, this must, too,” Heiser said in a release from the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s been an incredible journey, and I’m proud of the advancement the chamber tourism team and the Flagler County Tourism Development Council have made in marketing Flagler County as a desirable tourism destination.”

“Obviously it’s a huge loss, there’s no doubt about it,” Milissa Holland, the county commissioner who chairs the tourist council, said. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to bring somebody comparable to her.”

Heiser made back-to-back calls to council members this morning to inform them of her decision.

“It’s a shock,” Mary DiStefano, a long-time council member who represents Palm Coast, said. DiStefano put in her last meeting on the council on Wednesday as her tenure on the Palm Coast City Council draws to an end. “She does an excellent job. Excellent job, and she has really worked hard on tourism, and I really regret losing her. But she has a long distance to drive and I think the distance might be getting to her.”

Last month Heiser experienced a rare but significant setback. She’d asked for a 7.7 percent raise for herself (she makes $70,000 a year) and a 6 percent raise for her two staffers. The council approved the raises. The Flagler County Commission, which must ratify all council actions, did not, saying its own government employees hadn’t received raises in three years. “Obviously she was disappointed about that but I don’t believe that drove her decision,” Holland said.

Heiser’s husband, Bill Heiser, owns Southern Coast K9, a company that imports and trains police dogs. Heiser, who’d been commuting 90 minutes a day to New Smyrna Beach, will be reportedly focusing her attention on that business for now, and on her 13-year-old daughter.

Peggy Heiser

For the tourist council, the resignation will be jarring on several counts, not least of which the matter of Heiser’s succession: even though Heiser essentially reported to the council, enacted the council’s strategy and administered public money raised exclusively through the bed tax (which applies to hotel and motel stays and is paid overwhelmingly by visitors), she was not a council employee. Her actual title is vice president of tourism development at the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce. The council contracts with the chamber to use Heiser’s and her staff’s services, but her paycheck is signed by the chamber. Heiser’s replacement will be hired by Doug Baxter, the chamber president. Council members, especially Holland, might like to have input in the decision. Whether they do or not will say a lot about the chamber’s respect for the council, and its willingness to defer to its goals.

Baxter is big on taking credit for as many things as he can. On tourism, Heiser gradually overshadowed–and upstaged–him. Her departure could, depending on the chamber board’s direction, give Baxter a chance to take back the reins of tourism by hiring someone who’d be more his ally than Holland’s–and potentially hurt Holland politically, who’s made tourism a central plank of her commission tenure, with visible success. There’s likely to be some behind-the-scene jockeying and politicking over the position.

“Doug will go through the process of determining qualified candidates,” Lea Stokes, who chairs the chamber board, said today. “As far as the chamber board I’m not sure what role we’ll play at this time.” She said there will be discussions with Baxter about that role.

Baxter said he and Chamber Executive Vice President Rebecca DeLorenzo will be doing the interviewing to fill the position by year’s end. But, he added: “We’re more than happy to invite any member of the tourism development council to come in and be part of the interviewing process if that’s what they would like to do.”

doug baxter flagler county chamber of commerce president flaglerlive

Doug Baxter (© FlaglerLive)

“We hope,” Baxter said, “the politics doesn’t play any part in this. What we’re looking to do is hire a qualified person that knows tourism to fill the position. As seamlessly as possible we move from one VP top another.” For now, the chamber president said, there is at least one silver lining to the situation: “The beauty of the timing is the fact that the budget is in place for another year, basically, as of right now, so everything is very organized on what the program is going to do for the next year. That gives the new VP time to get accustomed to what we do here, as well as Peggy built a relationship with the Tourist Development Council over time, and that will happen with the new person.” Baxter was quick to dismiss matters of ego. “It’s not as if it’s an ego thing for me or has been for Peggy,” he said, noting the set-up at the chamber: Heiser ran her department with significant autonomy from Baxter. “It was not for me to step in and say I want the glory. I’m not about that. And neither was Peggy for that matter.” Baxter doesn’t expect that to be an issue with the new person, either.

The nine-member council, a mixture of government and tourism industry representatives, has grown attached–and dependent–on Heiser and her clear, aggressively no non-sense style. Nowhere is that virtual co-dependence more apparent than between Heiser and Holland.

Holland several years ago had been at loggerheads with Heiser, when Holland first got on the council, only to become Heiser’s champion and ally as both, through a lengthy process of education (about each other, the local economy and local politics), moved tourism to the center of the county’s economic development strategies, raising the bed tax to 4 percent–and increasing hotel stays in the county significantly in the past year, despite the economic slowdown. For most of this year the pair put on a road show for some two dozen government agencies, community and civic organizations to better acquaint them with the council’s direction and to get a broader understanding of the county’s leisure diversity. They were welcomed and cheered wherever they went.

When the county for most of the year debated and agonized over how to move economic development forward in Flagler, one of the rare recurring point of agreement was that the organization should be modeled after the TDC, with an executive modeled after Heiser.

milissa holland flagler county commission flaglerlive

Milissa Holland (© FlaglerLive)

“We think so much alike with these issues, she can sit down say something and I get it immediately,” Holland said during an interview a few months ago. “I can call her about this art walk, and I’m like, you know, there’s this opportunity here, we need to capitalize on it, and she’s–absolutely, I get it.”

“We play off each other’s strengths,” Heiser said at the time, “and utilize those to move forward in efforts that are bringing a return, bringing a result that ultimately they wanted to see, and it’s happening fairly rapidly.”

Her monthly presentations to the council became dubbed “Heiser Time” as she outlined month after month various gains in bed tax revenue or Flagler’s visibility or her own efforts to travel to conventions and conferences–she happens to be at one today, in Polk County–to market the county’s tourist potential. Much of the council’s oversight was made easier through Heiser’s command of its $1.3 million budget and her efficient way of dealing with innumerable applicants for TDC grants the council and the county commission must approve. The grant process was tightened considerably on Holland’s and Heiser’s watch to increase accountability and ensure that grant recipients proved that their events increased hotel stays in the county. “The perception is that I’m a gate-keeper,” Heiser said a few months ago. “I’m not a gate-keeper. I’m an educator.”

But the council was looking to Heiser to be just that gate-keeper. Whoever replaces Heiser will have to travel a lengthy and complex learning curve, shifting the gate-keeping role back to the council.

The chamber said a complete job description and candidate qualification requirements will be posted on on Monday, Oct. 23. All employment related questions, phone calls and resumes should be directed to 386/586.5171.

“We certainly wish Peggy all the best and we’re thankful that we had the opportunity to work with her,” Stokes, the chamber board chair, said.

“Peggy’s done a terrific job over the last six years here,” Baxter said. “I’ve worked with her now for over four and a half years. I’ve watched Peggy grow, I’ve watched tourism grow, I’ve watched the bed tax grow, I’ve watched occupancy grow. She set the bar high.” The challenge is to find someone who can match that height.

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36 Responses for “Heiser Time Over: Tourism Council’s Trusted Executive Resigns; Turbulence Ahead”

  1. Kip Durocher says:

    Obviously it’s a huge loss, there’s no doubt about it,” Milissa Holland, the county commissioner who chairs the tourist council, said. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to bring somebody comparable to her.”

    “No one person is indispensable.” Ike Eisnehower, Ghandi, Napoleon, Winston Churchill, Cmdr. Picard.

    “…but her paycheck is signed by the chamber. Heiser’s replacement will be hired by Doug Baxter, the chamber president. ”

    Time for this quaint, antiquated bit of crony capitalism to cease. I, as a taxpayer, do not want Doug Baxter signing paychecks funded by county tax money nor hiring the recipient of the checks.

  2. Layla says:

    Message to the County Commission: Others will agree with Kip Durocher’s comments. We want our tax dollars out of that Chamber. Their success must not depend upon tax payer dollars. They are a business organization, not a political organization and certainly not an elected body.

    Best wishes to Peggy Heiser, she has done a great job.

  3. Ralph says:

    Since you brought up unelected bodies, how do you feel about the Chief Lobbyist for the Builders, Jason DeLorenzo, married to Rebecca DeLorenzo #2 at the Chamber running for city council? Is it just me who thinks this is nuts?

    Do people realize what is going on here? This man was at the Tea Party meeting the other night. He is on their website.

    What the hell is going on in this town? Are they in support of a lobbyist on the council? A lobbyist who is married to the #2 at the Chamber. Anybody know? Looking for some answers here.

    Have never seen such a crazy place.

  4. palmcoaster says:

    As a local resident tax payer I am glad that Peggy Hiser decided to move on, after her requested increase of salary for herself and her assistants was denied, “for obvious reasons” (us, the people clamor) given that we all have to do with less in this pathetic economy. I also agree with Kip and Layla before me. I wish Hiser happy trails and higher pay checks from now on.
    I do have some serious questions for my elected officials next:
    A) Why are all (Holland and Commission, TDC and Chamber ) so eager to look for an inmediate costly replacement? After all what she was doing anyone can do from an existing government entity creating a job for a county resident. That our hotel occupancy was improved on her tenure is just here say…when the economy was good of course occupancy was better…now go and ask all the others that are not Ginn, Thunder Gulch or Hilton Garden INN and find out the real facts. Ask Mr Murphy …Now we come to learn that she was assigned not 800,000 from the 4% bed tax but 1,3 million. How much from that went to the Chamber coffers?
    If one of the good things she did was to raise the bed tax from the 3 to 4% sure that will not be that great promotion to attract tourism but benefit Hiser and Chamber CEO Baxter with higher $$$ assigned to them. Anyway with this rate of unemployment no matter which color we put it, people has no $$ for costly vacations now, may not even be able to afford the gouging at the pump for the trip to Flagler.
    Why other than wasting money on a replacement, TDC doesn’t promote tourism directly with the outside markets via real tourism publication adds on the frozen North Belt and overseas and more tourism thru Sports Events.
    Why don’t they hire a singer like as an example, Tom Jones or tenors like Enrique Jose Carreras or Placido Domingo or some of our popular country music starts for a ” Free Weekend Concert” here and there. Contract the one that will give you the better rate deal for a show and tens of thousands would show up..have booth vendors funding the cost. Sure will cost TDC a very small partial of the 1.3 million wasted till now. Get our government workers and residents to volunteer organizing the event. Try it once and offer a hotel stay package deal and see what happens… This free concert last month in the County of W. Brown suburbs of BuenosAires, Argentina with only 60,000 residents and found in you tube. as an example. 100,000 attended: All local lodging and eateries were overwhelmed with customers and great sales. How come I see popular American musician groups performing in Germany Ocktoberfest and other European free festivals crowded by tens of thousands and not in Flagler county? Never a free concert of a renoun artist in Flagler. I saw Pavarotti live in Miami Beach free concert some years ago.
    B) What are the qualifications of Doug Baxter besides being the Chamber staff CEO, to be put in charge of selecting a Tourism VP for TDC? He doesn’t even show good leadership on his lead position on the FCCOC while outsourcing all the work he can out of this county, utilizing political maneuvers to benefit his chosen one (Creekside Festival denial to political candidates booth) other than being the perfect arrogant and elitist. How come Commissioner Holland spear heads these decisions?
    Now that, is tax payers $$$ correct? then after all FCCOC is a private organization only when it comes to transparency or when it comes to prevent certain political candidate to have a booth or not on their (Creekside) event. What is up with that? I would love to receive some reply from my elected ones to my two questions and hope that they use more common sense when it comes to other than waste, better invest all hard earned tax dollars we generate and “please come up with the real results and statistics” other that “pats in the backs to each other” for wasting our taxes..

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Palmcoaster, some elected officials would actually be happy to to talk to you, but you’ll have to make your contact information available.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    Doesn’t take a rocket scientist at over $70,000/year pay plus the assistants salaries and with 1.3 million tax payers funds assigned to be going in to the FCCOC coffers to disburse as they feel fit, to promote tourism. Just events like the one to be held this Saturday 10/22 early AM self funded at no cost to us the tax payers will do it:

  6. Mary K. says:

    Flagler Assn. of Realtors just came out with letter of support for DeLorenzo and Moorman.

    Why would Realtors support the Chief Lobbyist for the Builders? We are over built here in Palm Coast, with houses standing empty and low income high rises going up.

    Good for the Builders, BAD for Palm Coast property values. I’m hopping mad. I sell real estate and I am done with the party machine.

    VOTE PEOPLE, but not for these people. Early voting starts next week. In fact, please call a realtor, any realtor you know and tell them what’s going on here, PLEASE.

  7. Charles Ericksen, Jr says:

    Generally, when individuals accept a job with measurable performance criteria, and exceed the measures, they warrant an increase. While the County maintains that no employees received increases, it does not acknowledge, that many have received promotional and step increases,…In this case, Ms. Heiser deserved recognition, other than the verbal type, for her large contribution to the success of TDC and more visitors coming to Flagler County. I’m sure she will with her proven skills, and accomplishments be more rewarded for her service down the road. Good luck to her, and thanks for your service.

  8. Abel Wintson says:

    I agree with Pierre, show your name, why don’t you palmcoaster? Or are you chicken?

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Abel, with respect, that’s not what I was suggesting: palmcoaster has the right to his (or her) pseudonyms, but asking for calls from elected officials makes that difficult absent means to do so.

  9. PJ says:

    Heiser your a better promoter than a manager it is pretty evident at your last Commission meeting.

    Unless your offer at your new job is more money and that is the reason you are leaving then fine. Good luck!

    But, if you just could not take the heat anymore because you were tested by residents and others then good thing you moved on.

    When all hell is breaking loose that is when you must become a manager and manage your bisness. If you quit because it seemed hopeless then don’t let the door hit you backside on the way out. Your less a manager than you seemed.

    We need new life in that organization anyway!!!!

  10. palmcoaster says:

    Abel I have my personal reasons why I do not disclose my name and is not because I roost at sundown. Depending in which honest way one makes a living, vulnerability while trying to battle the elite, is a fact. I been there before and experienced the temporary consequences.
    I can wait to the time that I can sell my business and retire to come out and meet you all here.
    To Flagler Live, my suggestion above about the two replies from my elected ones only infers the action in hope that at least they read our pleas and change the course. At least once we had one official City Councilman Frank Meeker replying and clarifying to some issues here. That was gratifying to see, he showed, he cared.

  11. Mary K. says:

    Ralph, the answer to your question is yes, some of the Tea Party people are supporting the builder’s lobbyist for the council. People may not realize the council is parttime. DeLorenzo will keep his day job. If he wins, we will have a lobbyist on the council.

    Doubtful many know this.

    I have also heard that several Republican officials are supporting him as well, including a member of the county commissioners and the sheriff. Republicans.

    Any surprise why we hear the local political parties are screwed up? Money talks in Palm Coast. It can even surpass party influence.

  12. palmcoaster says:

    When it comes to DeLorenzo for City Council, I sure have the same concerns of serious conflict of interest.

  13. Mary K. says:

    Thank you, Palmcoaster. I wish others understood that. I asked him if he didn’t think this was a conflict and he stated, “It is only a two year term.” I believe that says enough.

    I am wondering why there is such a strong push among our elected officials to make sure Jason has that seat?

    I can name several on the Commission, both sides that are working for him. People on the Chamber, leaders in the Tea Party, who will deny they endorse candidates. Makes me more than a little uncomfortable to see what I am seeing.

    Somebody wants to put him there real bad. The interesting thing is that all roads lead to the commissioners and the chamber.

  14. Bigfoot says:

    It seems easy to just raise the tax on tourist and then declare [We did it }with lots of back patting and self promoting.

  15. Jack says:

    @Palmcoaster: In regards to your identity and your wish to remain anonymous, how come Norton Smitty, also a business owner has no issue revealing his true identity (Darrell Smith)? I don’t think his business has suffered as a result. I share your many of your sentiments though. Just a simple question.

  16. palmcoaster says:

    Jack my business was exposed to the wrath for speaking up years ago…but as the economy was fine it recovered after a while. I am not running that risk this time, in these bad economic times.
    I am glad that Norton’s business is not affected with exposure, as I like and agree with most of his comments. Like you probably do, I feel like our elected ones read our complains and suggestions here and maybe will try to get in the right path….I see some positive moves so far. If we do not take a stand and ask for it, nothing will change.

  17. Layla says:

    Taxes, the liberal answer to everything…. Don’t you have to have something worth visiting for tourists before you can tax them?

    It is a battle here to keep businesses open. We are losing the Dollar Store, a favorite of shoppers at the Staples/Beall’s shopping center due to rents that are too high. It is one of the major stores there and will leave that center more than half empty.

    Across the street at Palm Harbor, we are witnessing the same….empty real estate, rents are too high. Not much here for tourists to visit.

    Just like the foreclosed homes, the council and commissioners ignore them. We are losing our tourism because we are losing our town.

  18. tom says:

    Peggy is very competent, but she was lucky with the success of the tourism. The reason for our high growth in tourism was due to the gulf oil spill. The beaches on the west coast were closed. All the Georgia visitors that annually went to the red neck riviera, Panhandle, had to find another beach town to visit. The good news is the Georgia tourists will probably continue to visit our area.

    I think it is funny about Melissa, it is her typical MO. How she hated Peggy in the beginning, but after she learned what she did, and gave her blessing, she loves her. It is her way or the highway; look what she has done with economic development.

  19. Layla says:

    This city, county must focus on stopping the damage already going on here due to the economy. Nobody will coming to Palm Coast until it is worth visiting, shows a stable business environment.

    For some reason, our city and county officials don’t want to deal with that fact, that we are going bankrupt.

    Perhaps it is the large landowners here who must realize that first? The gravy train is over. Just like the rest of us, they are stuck with it. We must stop the overbuilding before homes here are worth only $20 K apiece. We are not taking care of what we already have.

    Now, what is the next step to help those of us who live here?

  20. tulip says:

    It has been mentioned here that businesses have closed in certain places because the rents are too high and the blame appears to be put on the PC City council.

    Aren’t these shopping centers owned my private individuals or corporations? They are the ones that raise the rents and the more stores that leave, the higher the rent goes to make up for lost income to the owners. That’s where the blame should be placed, not on City Council.

    As far as Palm Harbor goes, that is the most inconvenient, non user friendly shopping center I’ve ever been in.. Perhaps it should be bulldozed down and a more modern, user friendly one built.

    As far as Peggy Heiser leaving the TDC–there has to be a REALLY good reason for her to do that, as 70+thousand dollars a year is certainly nothing to quickly give up in this anemic economy.

  21. palmcoaster says:

    Peggy …saw it coming Tulip, after the demise of Enterprise. FCCOC Baxter, should follow soon after we will all demand no more tax monies handed to the FCCOC, like the over 1.3 million for Heiser activities “supposedly attracting tourism” We, the tax payers and small business owners are fed up with the wasting of our hard earned taxes give away to the Chamber. A private organization, partially funded by us (not that we do approve it) originally created to support commerce and large and small businesses (not doing actually) an instead heavy hand embroiled in supporting development failures (Centex etc.) bias political campaigns and outsourcing.
    Regarding the success of the lodging occupancy supposedly obtained by Hiser …is just hear say.
    Ask the other local hotels that are not the Ginn’s Resorts, Thunder Gulch campsites or Hilton Garden INN. Ask the majority of our local restaurants…

  22. Layla says:

    Not putting the blame on the council, Tulip. Saying council needs to address this “problem”. These guys just keep building more. That is not how you help property values.

    Palm Coast builds empty monuments. We’re tired of it. This is the most unfriendly business city in Florida. However, we DO have nine gambling parlors.

    We need to find a SOLUTION to this problem. If I didn’t know better, I might think you were an elected official…

    And as for Palm Harbor, for those of us on the east side of I-95, it saves us from driving 30 minutes to Town Center.

    More modern and user friendly won’t matter if Palm Coast businesses cannot afford the rent.. We seem to have the same problem with hundreds of empty housing units built at the Marina, the Tidelands.

    And now you know why we are upset at putting a lobbyist for the builders on the council. More of the same…

    We need some new elected officials in this town, some new blood, some new thinking, NOT LOBBYISTS.

  23. Mary K. says:

    Sounds like the chamber could some new blood as well. Palmcoaster, you described it well,

    “heavy hand embroiled in supporting development failures (Centex etc.) bias political campaigns and outsourcing.”

    This chamber doesn’t behave like a chamber, more like an unelected body throwing its weight around and helping no one. Time for another organization, maybe a small business council?

  24. Begonia says:

    Tulip, how does bulldozing Palm Harbor make the rents cheaper and affordable to local business? You’re busy bulldozing everything else, I guess it only figures you will bulldoze one of the only remaining pretty centers in Palm Coast.

    I think that is the mentality being referred to here.

    Maybe it’s time to look into who makes money bulldozing?

  25. palmcoaster says:

    I am surprised of Ericksen’s performance enhancement comments here, about Hiser. Sorry but to me is all hearsay…as per many local hoteliers and or restaurants owners opposed view of her so called tourist attraction activities. Have you ask them about it, Charlie? When demanded (like hotelier here Mr. Murphy told us) documented statistics, he never received a reply. Maybe the beneficiaries were only as I suspect Ginn Resorts, Thunder Gulch and Hilton Garden Inn. I would call her sudden resignation very peculiar instead, to say the least…some do it before the s….hits the fan when public clamor demands more transparency and accountability! Shameful proposal of TDC, Holland and this commission to put the fox (Baxter) in charge of the design of the chicken coop called “Tourism Development new VP to be selected”. Give it a try one year without those positions and instead have TDC research the idea of advertising directly in winter markets on the North, Canada, Europe and Mexico aimed at the international tourism also. Have TDC use county Carl Laundrie already in the payroll and doing nothing now, materialize the contacts after close review, evaluation and approval of TDC Board with input of “all” their members. All the salaries paid to Hiser and assistants as per the last disclosure over $226,000 can cover several weekend event free concerts by world renown artist that will bring thousands to visit this county and use our lodging and restaurants. Give it a try for one year and see what happens and get out of the FCCOC heavy handed our tax revenues.
    Give these potential tourist choice of one of the following a free first one play of our golf courses, one free ride in the Sundancer, one free horse back ride around our country side, one kayak free rental with few days stay. Attractive tourist baits work. Promote and offer the one time use of our tennis basketball, skate board,etc courts. These are the things that can be funded other that paying FCCOC VP’s elite salaries. Use those FCCOC assigned 1.3 million for real advertisement where it will work for a change.

  26. palmcoaster says:

    Bulldozing my Publix in Palm Harbor the center of Palm Coast….? Hey Tulip which developer you work for?

  27. tulip says:

    Begonia—-I am just an ordinary retired citizen here in Palm Coast who wants people of all ages to have a nice city to live in. I’m definately not an official of any kind and don’t own a bulldozing business. I wish this site had smilies so I could put a smilie face here.

    In regards to the comments I made about Palm Harbor Shopping Center and bulldozing it down I was referring to the fact that it definately needs to be made user friendly. The way it is laid out it’s hard to see what businesses are where because of the way the parking lots and “roadways” around the place are designed. From what I understand, way back when it was built there was no drive through where Aimee’s is. At least they fixed that.

    As I read back on my own post, I realize bulldozing was too strong a word, but I, like others, sometimes go a little overboard when frustrated over an issue. One of the reasons I get frustrated over some things is I also don’t like seeing businesses close and lots of empty buildings. Maybe if some of these landlords didn’t keep raising rents, the businesses could afford to stay, and it becomes profitable for both the owner and the renter.

    So what I should’ve said was they it’s too bad they can’t reconfigure the traffic pattern there, or have very clear signage where stores are, and that would help make it less confusing. I do realize Council doesn’t like signs, but that’s for another day.

    You are right–Palm Harbor is a pretty shopping plaza—-the very sad part is it’s getting homely due to all the empty stores. Maybe someone will have a solution to someday and we can have pretty, and thriving at the same time.

  28. Begonia says:

    Sadly, Tulip, very few businesses remail at Palm Harbor. It’s well worth the trip there once in awhile to see what’s new. There is a great new health foods store, Richard’s, which is worth the trip. They are very friendly, knowledgeable and happy to have your business. There is also a new deli which is just getting started.

    It may not be the most convenient center, but it is the prettiest, I think, because of the trees. I look at Town Center and it is all concrete. Forgive me, but it is ugly. I moved to Palm Coast for the beauty.

    Palm Harbor was the first site I saw in Palm Coast and it sold me on wanting to move here, because of the trees and the natural beauty. It has recently been painted, so we are hopeful of seeing new business there soon. All who moved out, moved because the rent became too expensive to stay, including the Beall’s Clearance Center. The owner was not willing to improve the interior of the store…paint, carpeting, etc.

    Most of us here don’t want it torn down. I think there would be quite a commotion if that were to occur. We would like to see it cared for an preserved with the hope that the owner is one day able to drop those rents. If he keeps raising them, it will remain empty and fall into bankruptcy.

  29. Ralph says:

    Going to be voting tomorrow. NOT voting to put a lobbyist on that Council. I will be supporting Dennis Cross.

    Think we can get more than 10% to the polls this time?

  30. palmcoaster says:

    Ralph, hope we will get over that 10% for Cross to take that city council seat. He got my vote too.

  31. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    The Palm Harbor Shopping Center is part of the Federally Ordered REDRESS for Palm Coast, Inc.
    The Federal Trade Commission required I.T.T. to build a one stop shopping center. Its designer was Nationally famous Hass and Reid. That is how the Interstate Interchange came about also, Federally required for Palm Coast and the completion of St. Joe Grade. ( St. Joe Grade is aka Palm Coast Parkway, it references Brigadeer General Jose Martin Hernandez third Plantation St. Joes where is right there – St. Joe Grade and the present Publix Shopping Center and Florida Park Drive. )
    The present Bank location is very important also. We just prepared a massive amount of documentation and xeroxing for it so that preparations can be made for our Heritage and History. That location was ordered as REDRESS also and the first bank there processed 36,000 sales in just a few years when Palm Coast just started. ITT used only the best which is why so many people bought here then.
    We gave the documentation to the Bank and they have forwarded it to the Whitney Bank Corporate Offices; hopefully initially we will get a placque there. That would be nice for starters.

    For those wishing to read the Federal ‘Consent Agreement’ for ‘The Palm Coast Project’ go to the Federal Trade Commission site and pull up Docket C-2854. Therein it clearly states a one stop shopping center, etc. etc. etc. etc.

    RE: HASS Architects designed it so it would not look like a strip mall , treeless and no personality and character. That is why you see a lot of Coquina and Wood so that it blends in with the Environment .
    For those interested in the Nationally known Architectural Firm :

    HAAS Joseph Brooks Haas, 87, a longtime resident of Jacksonville, passed away on November 12, 2010, at the Mayo Clinic. He was born on February 28, 1923, in Savannah, Georgia, where his father served in the Army Corp of Engineers for many years. His family then moved to Brunswick, Georgia and he graduated from Glynn Academy in 1940. He attended Georgia Tech and graduated in the top of his class in 1943 with a degree in Architecture, where he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. Brooks served in the infantry in World War II as a Lieutenant and engaged in combat experience in the European Theatre of Operations where he learned snow skiing, one of his favorite lifelong sports. In 1947, Brooks returned to Jacksonville where he married Harriet Farwell and began practicing architecture with the firm of Reynolds, Smith, and Hills. Then, he later developed his own firm, Haas & Reed Architects, which became a premier commercial architectural design firm representing municipalities, financial institutions, physicians, county, state, and federal governmental entities, and industrial clients. He also provided architectural and planning services for Grandfather Golf and Country Club, as well as portions of Sugar Mountain and Beach Mountain in North Carolina. He was preceded in death by his wife, Deborah Stephens Haas; his son, Bruce Farwell Haas and his wife, Jackie; his brother, Morton V. Haas and his wife, Jean; and his father, Morton V. Haas, and his mother, Elizabeth Frances Abrams Haas. He is survived by Harriet Farwell Mott, the mother of his children, Robert V. Haas and his wife, Deena of Albany, Georgia; Elizabeth A. Haas ‘Bootsy’; as well as three grandchildren, Ashley Brook Knebel, Haley Plaire Haas, and Gwenn Margretta and her husband, Pete; one great grandchild, Rilyn Kai Taylor; nephew, Dr. Christopher Haas and his wife, Ellen; great nephews, Payton Haas and Graham Haas; great niece, Christen Haas; and sister-in-law, Marsha Slick and her husband Clyde Slick and children. Brooks was a member of the Rotary Club, Florida Yacht Club, Ponte Vedra Club and Christ Church of Ponte Vedra Beach. He was a world traveler, an avid snow skier, tennis player, fisherman, fencer and had a passion for sailing the British Virgin Islands. Brooks was a respected Architect and father who will be greatly missed by all of his family and friends. Visitation will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 17th in Quinn-Shalz Funeral Home. Funeral Services will be held at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, November 18th in Christ Episcopal Church followed by a reception. Burial will take place in Jacksonville National Cemetery at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Jacksonville Humane Society, 8464 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32216 or Christ Church, 400 San Juan Drive, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082. Please visit our online Tribute at .

  32. Layla says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing that. It does indeed merit saving and preserving.

  33. palmcoaster says:

    Yes Lyla, should be preserved as will be our future vintage and environmentally friendly Palm Harbor Shopping. Enough is that we lost our beloved Sheraton ITT/Palm Coast Resort nestled among a gorgeous hammock of towering and centenary huge Oaks all uprooted for the greedy sake of a developer (Centex) and the cheering FCCOC, to give us the pathetic curve appeal that we see today, right behind of what is left of our Palm Coast Marina. By the way now is the time that we get our Marina back from Pulte’s hands still, before the statute of limitation expires.Was one of us, the Palmcoasters grandfathering amenities stripped from us illegally. We, the city should get the Marina back…as is still self sufficient. I don’t care which city official runs his business from it now.

  34. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    Reply to Palm Coaster and Lyla:
    Thank you very much for your support.
    Our thinking is that if we get the many Heritage and Historical Areas/ Acreage ‘Marked ‘ Historically by the State, even recognized by the city , that would help the struggling families here since Tourism brings people.
    That is why we keep plugging along tho’ our Bucket list is large and time is not on our side.
    Please keep your fingers crossed on our first cherished and beloved first Bank location. That is where Mr. Joseph Malatino, another Palm Coast Pioneer who has passed, started the Building Fund for ‘Mother Seton’ and others did the same for the Churches and Temple here Building Funds.
    Can you imagine…. 36,000 House/ Lots / Lots packages passed through that Bank in just a few years.
    A rough calculation for us is that $ 178,000,000.00 dollars 1970’s U.S. passed through their Vault.
    We ask for help on Flagler Live Readers – Does anyone know the signifigance of the ‘Jefferson Davis Waterway’ and ‘Lake Success’ passing through our cherished and beloved Matanzas Woods Golf Course?
    Any Heritage and Historic Minded people living in the ‘Community of Matanzas Woods’ that would like to start this recognition?
    Thank you very much for your support.
    Keep your fingers crossed that the Whitney Bank recognizes the merit of what the Bank they now own.
    We can hope for the struggling families –
    For PalmCoaster: the Palm Coast Marina Complex a.k.a. Palm Coast Resort #2 Harborside is also Federal REDRESS ordered for us for Palm Coast , Inc., and of course to benefit present Palm Coasters and all future Palm Coasters.
    Interesting factoid- Palm Coast Community Properties are so Gargantuan they even extend to St. Johns County. Consequently when the Federal ‘Consent Agreements’ and all the State of Florida Department of Community Affairs, etc., ‘ Agreements’ came into being all had to be recorded not only in Flagler County Official Records but also the Records of St. Johns County too.
    Don’t forget we are of LEVITT fame – the largest LEVITT Community and the last planned before he sold it to I.T.T. – that is why people came here in the past because of all the many Amenities / Features/ Improvements/ Acreage offered by Levitt who had a stellar reputation with Levittown. Levittown has a Historical Marker –

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