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Princess Place Preserve Slated for Extreme-Sport-Type Endurance Race, and 6,000 Racers

| August 19, 2015

extreme sports princess place preserve

Princess Place Preserve will be turned over to an extreme-sports type endurance race in March, over an 8 to 10-mile course. (© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 5:39 p.m.

In 1988 Flagler County voters by a 2-1 margin approved a referendum to increase their property taxes and buy pristine lands with the money. Among the purchases was the 1,000-acre Princess Place Preserve, to this day considered the crown jewel of Flagler’s Environmentally Sensitive Land program.

With scant prior discussion at the Tourist Development Council and no prior discussion at the county commission or the county’s parks and recreation board—and of course no discussion with the Princess Place Citizens Support Organization, which the county disbanded about a year ago—the county administration and Matt Dunn, the county’s tourism chief, have been working out an agreement to turn over the Princess Place Preserve next March to Spartan Race Inc., an extreme sports organization that has already been collecting registrations and revenue for a massive race at the preserve in March.

The hyper-endurance race, called the “Jacksonville Super at Palm Coast,” entails turning the preserve into an 8 to 10-mile race course with 24 to 29 “natural” and artificial obstacles that radically alter the landscape and by Spartan’s own description “may cause substantial wear and tear.” The obstacle courses include barbed wire, scalable walls, mud—though Dunn says mud pits will not be part of this course—fire jumps, tire drags, traverse walls, carrying heavy loads of one sort or another and other obstacles.

Organizers hope to attract 6,000 racers and 2,000 spectators.

Dunn spoke of landing the race as a major success for the county when he spoke of it to the Tourist Development Council for the first time this morning, though the county is working out the final drafts of the contract. “This was a very big personal accomplishment for all of us in the office,” Dunn said, describing the event as a major driver of dollars and, potentially, exposure for the county.

But Spartan is not paying the county a dime.

According to the terms of the draft contract, it expects the county, at its own expense to provide all incidental costs to the event—water, utilities, electricity Internet, security, fire and ambulance services. Private companies that usually need such services are billed for them. Even though Princess Place is a public park, Spartan is actually to be granted exclusive access to the Princess Place Preserve venue for 12 days—from the morning of March 11 to the last hour of March 23—with the event scheduled for March 19. It’s not clear whether that exclusivity applies to the entirety of the preserve, though because of its limited access roads, much of it would be off limits to the public during that period regardless.

Spartan will be charging runners from $79 to $109, and more on the day of the race. It will have exclusive rights to parking fees and concessions, forbidding the county from having any competing, similar  revenue sources. And Spartan “shall be entitled to retain all proceeds for the event, including ticketing, merchandise sales, onsite food, beverage and alcohol sales, coat checks, sponsorship and broadcast rights,” the contract states, “all obtained and priced in Spartan’s sole discretion.

Not only is Spartan not paying the county for exclusive use of the preserve for nearly two weeks. The county will be subsidizing Spartan with tax dollars. Dunn asked the county today, through the TDC, to approve $25,000 in public money to be spent underwriting the event. The TDC unanimously, and without any discussion, agreed. The county commission is expected to ratify the $25,000 allocation, which represents only about half the actual county subsidy.

“Because Princess Place is a county owned facility and because it is free of charge to us, we were able to showcase that as part of our package,” Dunn said. “So for example they’re used to spending anywhere from $30,000 to in some cases as much as $75,000 when it comes to renting a facility to host one of their events. In this case they don’t have that expense. That was one of the big things we were able to use as a tool to entice them to come in. So we were able to showcase to them with a $25,000 bid fee cash, and then with a complimentary facility on the low end, I’d say $30,000, we were able to showcase a $55,000 package we negotiated with them in order to obtain the verbal commitment.”

Just last week, Dunn said, he and Spartan officials, including a course designer, “spent a lot of time out at Princess Place, driving on four-wheelers and really starting the beginning stages of crafting the course.” There are, he said, “a few environmental concerns. Spartan Race does a phenomenal job of making sure that when they leave a property they leave it looking even better than when they got there. They have—I forget the name, the term that they use—but they have a program to place everything back the way that it was found, and then they also enhance the facility through the process of hosting the event.”

If that’s the case, it’s not in the contract. Rather, the contract leaves Spartan harmless if it does not restore a venue to its original state. The contract specifically states that while Flagler County “acknowledges that an obstacle course and entertainment venue with substantial attendance may cause substantial wear and tear, Spartan shall take reasonable care to minimize such wear and tear.” The contract is silent on Spartan’s responsibility to restore a venue, or compensate its owner should it sustain serious damage. The contract is entirely silent on environmental venues such as the Princess Place Preserve.

Spartan itself organizes roughly 80 such races across the country—going in and out of venues rapidly.

“Some of the obstacles that are extremely involved, some of the obstacles that really rip apart the earth are not going to take place during this project,” Dunn said. “They’ve got a big variety of obstacles, we’ll whittle that down to somewhere between 22 to 26 different obstacles, and make sure that we’re putting our best foot forward when it comes to the environmental aspect of princess place.” (Dunn  then showed one of the many videos that show Spartan race courses, with ripped-up landscapes and racers’ stampedes.)

The event was originally slated for November. Spartan asked for it to be moved to March, even though the March date conflicts with a lot of local events. The county complied. The contract gives Spartan—not the county—the option to reserve Princess Place for the following year, within 120 days of the end of the event, and for 90 days on either side of the event date—or for half the year—Flagler County is barred from negotiating or holding a “competing event” there. In essence, the contract gives Spartan the option of renewing the use of Princess Place in perpetuity.

That’s what Dunn hopes for: the county wants the race to become part of the tourism landscape in the future.

Flagler County residents long associated with Princess Place, some of whom served on the now-disbanded citizens’ support organization, were taken aback by the county’s direction.

“We were about sick when we were done reading it,” Michael Duggins, who sits on the county’s planning board and has volunteered at Princess Place’s Legacy program over the years, said after reading the draft contract. He was  referring to himself and his wife Gail, with whom he was among the founding members of the founding members of the environmental preservation council of Flagler Beach. “I cannot imagine the county doing something like this up there.” He added, “And the county gets absolutely not one cent out of it, they put out money instead.”

“I guess the powers that be have decided this is going to happen one way or another. That’s the way things seem to happen around here,” said Duggins, who also was opposed to the county’s plan to build “cottages” at the preserve—a plan the TDC today approved spending $150,000 for.

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Duggins noted that even if the race were seen as an economic driver, most racers and visitors who will book hotel nights will do so in St. Augustine or St. Johns, because it’s closer to Princess Place than Palm Coast. He was skeptical of the promise that the preserve would be returned to its natural conditions. “I don’t know where they can have it where they’re not going to tear up what I call fairly natural  land, “ he said. “There’s no way they can ever bring it back once they trample it down.”

Gail Wadsworth, the Flagler County clerk of court, has very close attachments to Princess Place. Her aunt and uncle, Lewis and Angela Wadsworth, previously owned the land, and Wadsworth herself served on the support organization. She calls {Princess Place “home.”

“May insanity prevail,” Wadsworth said of the planned race. “I am sorry the county would use a natural asset in that fashion, and I have probably said way more than I should.”

Brynn Newton, who’s repeatedly appeared before county commissioners to oppose the planned cottages, says the name of the place defines it: “That is part of the name, preserve,” Newton said. “There’s some mindset that doesn’t quite get the concept of a preserve. I guess you need to get a dollar out of it, like there’s no value if it’s just sitting there.”

It’s not clear why Spartan listed the race and began taking registration fees before the contract was approved—oir discussed publicly. “Unfortunately they jumped the gun a little bit,” Dunn said. “It was never the design in anything that we’re doing, and we’re not going to even send the lead sheet as you all know very well until we have the contract done. So there’s a little cart before the horse here. That was not done by our staff our by anybody at Princess Place or the county, so it’s just a mistake on their part, and one we’re dealing with.”

But Dunn was aware of Spartan’s plans a month ago, and told the county attorney’s office that Spartan and his office had agreed to terms back then, though the contract had to be ratified by the county attorney’s office. “Now that we’ve come to terms they want to open registration immediately as they’re behind in their usual deadline pattern now that we’ve switched dates from Sept 2016 to March 2016,” he told Sean Moylan in the county attorney’s office in an email dated July 21.

Ironically, the county attorney working on the contract is Al Hadeed—one of the central figures in securing the Princess Place Preserve under the county’s ostensibly perpetual protection a decade and a half ago. He was asked in an email requesting the contract how his work on the contract squares with that history. He provided the contract, but did not respond to that part of the email, saying only that his office is working on revisions.

In late afternoon, Craig Coffey, the county administrator, responded to an email from newton regarding the race. He sought to reassure her that the county was “committed to the stewardship of the environmental integrity of this park,” though he framed the letter in an inaccuracy: “This tourism event has been approved by the TDC for funding. It is now the County staff’s job to work through the details of how to host the event in a proper manner.”

The TDC does not approve funding or events. It merely recommends them. Its role is advisory only. The county commission approves or rejects. The event (or the money) has not, in fact, been approved by the county commission, nor presented to commissioners.

Coffey went on to note that the county has the ultimate say on what course and obstacles are used, which may overstate the matter since Spartan has a limited number of obstacles that define its race, and many require altering the landscape. “We are only at the preliminary stages now and will be receiving specifications on the obstacles soon so they can be properly evaluated and, if found to be compatible with the management of Princess Place, addressed/placed at an appropriate location,” Coffey wrote. “Many of the obstacles can be as simple as carrying buckets of sand or water, or carrying a log, or running in the existing sand already found at the Princess Place Preserve. Some obstacles will involve the construction of structures to climb over or under. We are confident with proper placement and construction techniques these structures will not create a lasting footprint on the environment.” He added, “this event will be primarily on bulldozed fire lines, horse trails, and vehicle trails. Obstacles will be in already disturbed areas and may not be as glamorous as you have seen online.”

Download the draft contract with Spartan here.

106 Responses for “Princess Place Preserve Slated for Extreme-Sport-Type Endurance Race, and 6,000 Racers”

  1. ogre says:

    This is a joke. Why not just give the park away. First cottages and now this stupid race. I bet scoop the towns new mascot is all for this event.

  2. That is so startilling to me

  3. Save the Princess says:

    You destroy Princess Place, you destroy the history of this part of Florida. Isn’t Princess Place an historical site ? What kind of scum sucking animal would try and rape this beautiful PRESERVE and get MONEY on top of the assault ? This will NOT happen if We the People of Palm Coast come together and END IT before it begins !!!

  4. Bill says:

    Sounds like a BAD deal for the people of Flagler County and THEIR park. Not only do we not get any money for the use of our park we must pay them to use it and again get NOTHING from it??? we don’t get any cut of the registration, concessions sales or even parking again in OUR park! yes we will get some tax dollars from sales and hotel rooms and off site food BUT .. Who made this deal John Kerry????

  5. Barry Hartmann says:

    This is unbelievable !!!! Bad for Princess Place, Palm Coast and Flagler county.! Worst contract I have ever seen!

  6. mj says:

    Princess Place Preserve is part of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve), as such its a State protected area….wonder if they know about this event

  7. Tree Hugger says:

    After reading the article I was like ok, where’s the punch line? Why does everyone feel they can waltz into Flagler County and test out their “dreams and experiments at the expense and infrastructure of the people who live here? I thought it was called a PRESERVE for a reason. Think of the struggle tax paying locals have just trying to set up a business in this county and these people roll in like tumble weed and run a business? As one who frequents Princess Preserve on a regular basis I’m totally disgusted. The county needs to stop being lazy and use the property for proper use. They cut-off most of the Preserve from public use but are going to allow thousands of people to turn it into Bohemian Grove for a bunch of transients. This is just another Bobby Ginn recycled type of stunt. There are a million revenue generating options that place can be used for but they come up with this. Try building a house on a lot with a Gopher turtle nest on it and see what happens? But we’re to believe thousands of people and vehicles won’t make an impact? Now do tell us the fate of Princess Preserve’s wildlife, hogs, deer, bear, foxes, eagles, reptiles, coyotes etc when this is all said and done?

  8. The powers that be do what they want. They change the rules when they want. This is how it is run internally on the workers too. The powers that be are a click and cover each other’s asses to get raises. The commissioners are totally unaware of what goes on.

  9. Okay, does “PRESERVE” mean anything?

  10. groot says:

    So much for pristine lands. Disgusting. The time has come to say no. No more. Do not do this. Nothing ever happens here and there are no consequences because local business just wants to make a buck and most of the folks who care are elderly and can’t even work a computer. Get it together this time and stop this one.
    Fire Dunn.

  11. Frances Royals says:

    This is awful. I can’t believe the county commissioners would allow this to happen. Princess Place is a pristine preserve and has always been protected . This does not make sense to have this kind of event at a preserve. I hope that we can do something to prevent it from happening. Thanks for letting the people in the county who love the preserve and know that its ecosystems can not absorb this kind of use know about the event. Surely something can be done to prevent this. I plan to call the commissioners to talk with them.

    • Charles F. Ericksen, Jr says:

      This subject has not even been discussed with the Commissioners. .I heard of it for the first time at the TDC meeting yesterday morning.

      • Willy Laundrie says:

        Mr. Ericksen,

        I hope the commission, or a majority of it’s members continue to protect Princess Place from this and other unfavorable venues. As a voter I find it suspicious the event organizer has already started collecting registration fees for this event prior to commission approval. Perhaps going forward Mr. Dunn, and the TDC need to be reminded that while tourism is important, it needs to be applied properly to the demographics of our county’s public lands.

      • Kendall says:

        Is it possible for concerned commission members and citizens to stop this assault on Princess Place?

  12. Outsider says:

    Are these leaders out of their f’ing minds? The place will be trashed and we get nothing for it. Call the commissioners and tell them not to allow this. And we should demand an investigation as to who is behind this and what are they getting for it. What a joke.

  13. tulip says:

    This BOCC has gone amuck again!! We just learn that the TDC will be under county control and now this contract to make a mess of Princess Preserve that Coffey and Dunn have conjured up?

    There sure is a big rotten smelly fish here somewhere. What’s with Hadeed working on this kind of contract where Flagler county pays for Spartan to come here and make a gazillion dollars and we get nothing.

    It would be great if no one attended this event. However, that won’t happen.

  14. Susan Gorski says:

    Get rid of anyone who stood behind this event. Then stop it from happening.

  15. wishful thnking says:


  16. This better be an April fools joke. Total BS.

  17. Steve Cole says:

    Uh, just say no please. Idiots just for considering it…smh

  18. Lori Baker says:

    This is soo messed up! People plesse don’t allow this.

  19. Super excited for the race! Sami Setzekorn

  20. Steven Hirko says:

    I have no problems with spartin races. But DO NOT let this happen at Princess preserve.

  21. They couldn’t find an already destroyed area to hold this thing. No, destroy one of the few places left in this area. Assholes. Why not use Mudmuckers?

  22. sarah krieg says:

    Definition of preserve: to keep in its original state:to keep safe from injury, harm or destruction.I have been taking my children to Princess Place Preserve for nearly 20 years.Teaching them not to break any branches, not to pick any flowers, not to harm any animals.This is the one place I go to make the craziness of the world go away.I have been in tears for the last hour thinking how 20 years of teaching my children to love and enjoy something so natural and beautiful can be destroyed for some silly game.Please do not allow this stupid race to occur here.There are plenty of places in Florida that are already damaged that they can have their fun in.Leave this one for the people who truely respect and love nature !!

  23. Beach Guy says:

    Block the roads with protestors so the participants and spectators can’t get in.

  24. Cynthia Erickson says:

    Preserve: : to keep (something) in its original state or in good condition. It’s not Rocket Science – something has gone terribly wrong with Flagler Counties priorities.

  25. What very poor stewardship of these environmentally sensitive lands. Also right smack in the midst of bird migration.

  26. Flagler Resident says:

    This is absolute crap 6000 participants raping a pristine land for sport this type of race has no place here in Flagler county especial in one of our few local preserves. This action is appalling how could they let this happen. Here is a crazy idea if you want to find a way to improve tourism how about bringing in an event that isn’t named for another city ” Jacksonville” is not palm coast. BOCC what a bunch of IDIOTS……..

  27. Edman says:

    I smell “Coffey” all over this absurd “contract”!

  28. Amom says:

    There has got to be a way to stop this!!!!!! Who has the power to stop this insanity?

  29. Tree Hugger says:

    Someone reach out to Ty Pennington as-well as other influential Eco friendly personalities in the area to put this in the the spotlight beyond local news. Wheres Dennis McDonald when you need him? There is a prominent Flagler County business owner and attorney who lives in there. I wonder what he thinks of this idea?

    Future Princess Preserve Uses

    More board walks (elevated) and decks.
    Historic exhibits, animal and Eco stations spaced throughout the preserve. Take a page from the AG museum and from Bulow Park. Construct life sized Dioramas of settlers and Seminole Indian life along with educational guides. This can be completed with donations, fund raisers and volunteer work. As far as location and manpower we live in one of the best counties in the US. I mean come on a 2000 plus acre Preserve and this is all they can come up with? Half the people that live in this county don’t even know Princess Preserve even exist and I thought that was deliberate to keep the traffic down but six thousand people and vehicles bulldozing through for a month is absurd.

    • We the People says:

      Paul Katz lives in the Preserve and will FIGHT for the People’s rights to SAVE the preserve. Come on Paul, we need you now !!!!!

  30. Oldseadog says:

    “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

    …….Franklin D. Roosevelt

  31. Irwin Connelly says:

    First off – what a well written article, per usual.

    This is just the wrong venue for what otherwise could be a good event. For some reason county administration seems intent on developing this preserve into a commercial “tourist” destination. This is just what is happening at the State level, where Governor Scott has repeatedly tried to turn state parks into commercial developments. In his first month in office he tried to give 24 parks over to golf course/condominium developers. Now he is trying to commercialize our state parks again. Present county administration seems obsessed with changing the character of Princess Place Preserve. Hopefully our commissioners will put a quick stop to this insanity.

  32. scrub jay says:

    I think the powers that be think we as tax paying citizens are dumb and dumber. Start with the cabins. Ruin the land once again. Then will need fence, roads, security cameras, and last, security patrol against things that go bump in the night. Leave it alone!!!! Its the last we have left.

  33. Willy Laundrie says:

    Hosting an event of this magnitude at a historical and environmental preserve is like hosting a monster truck rally on the south lawn of the White House. While we are at it, let’s invite MTV to host spring break in Flagler Beach.

    The voter approved referendum passed in 1988 was intended for conservation lands with the intention of protecting said lands from this kind of use. A property more suited for this type of venue would be the county’s Fair Grounds.

  34. snapperhead says:

    Don’t let this happen people. Take action! Write your county commissioner, the county administrator and the FL Dept. of Environmental Protection.

    Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve

  35. Surfgod says:

    The writing was on the wall years ago when they turned the Creekside Festival into a Home show. My family has not returned since then. If I want to go to a home show, I will go to the one at FPC or Ocean Center in Daytona. They ruined the festival with too many vendors trying to sell windows, make-up, news paper subscriptions, etc… Now this fiasco….which if managed right, could be a boon for the county with revenue generated…but alas, looks like the deal has been done behind closed doors with only signatures left to be done.

  36. snapperhead says:

    Write Spartan Race – and let them know while we have no grudge with them in particular or their participants the location is not acceptable to Flagler residents.

  37. Logistical Nightmare says:

    Unbelievable to have this kind of event at such a beautiful and pristine place…..just from a logistical stand point it’s going to be a nightmare……6,000 participant, 2,000 spectators, plus the staff……that’s a lot of vehicles…….you can park ~500 cars per acres, depending on how many people ride together you will need 8 to 12 acres of parking alone………I don’t even think they have one acre of parking now…..then there’s the porta-potties………if you use the OSHA requirement you will need a minimum of 72 with two pump-outs a day……..what about access to the park itself……is Flagler County going to be able to keep up with the dust control…….are emergency vehicles even going to be able to get in there in an emergency……you can bet there will be several injuries at this event…..broken limbs……severe lacerations……burns (they actually have fire obstacles)…….what about law enforcement…….traffic control……..someone at the County is working in a vacuum

  38. wishful thinking says:

    if all of us would make sure this and the $150,000 ( loan so Coffey can sub out to out of state contractors to build the ‘cottages’) are NOT on the CONSENT AGENDA when placed on BOCC Meeting Agenda…
    These items need to be pulled if so – for full public hearing – and ALL OF US should be there to express our disgust… Perhaps there is so much Coffey on the paper work that it will be too wet to read after we speak…
    United we stand – divided Coffey and CO (s) win… !

    • We the People says:

      100% agree……Time and dates of these meetings need to posted on this site and every bulletin board in Flagler County !!!

  39. Buylocal says:

    I just wrote us@spartan. Thanks snapperhead. I suggest everyone else do the same.

  40. tulip says:

    If Spartan and the county is so hell bent on bringing this event here, why not have it in the Western part of Flagler where they have the truck pulls, etc. That land has already taken a beating.

    Why is the Coffey, Dunn and Hadeed willing to have the county pay all expenses and no accountability on Spartan’s part? No one that was sincerely looking out for the county and residents interests would EVER submit to those terms! Thank Heaven Palm Coast is smarter than that when they have events.

    Is the county so desperate to make a few dollars off of an unknown amount of bed tax and some sales tax from meals at restaurants that they will make all these concessions to Spartan? I think it will cost the county more to have this event than they would ever make in bed and sales taxes.

    It was mentioned here that the BOCC hasn’t discussed this yet? It wouldn’t be a surprise to find the subject was discussed amongst a couple of them in private and that Coffey and Dunn have their mind made up.

  41. confidential says:

    Stop this event in a preserve please!

  42. Flagler Resident says:

    Please take the time to voice your disapproval to commissioners email is super easy

  43. Nature Lover says:

    Called all county commissioners, attorney, administrator and emailed everyone I could think of. There must be some sort of shady deal behind it since there is no benefit to county but we pay them to destroy our treasure. Preposterous. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Well done. Those commissioners are mad at you but we are grateful. Yes do your race on some empty land, build whatever is needed but Princess Place is environmentally sensitive land and was bought as such. Thank you all that care.

  44. Amom says:

    I can’t believe we are subsidizing this, and not getting any payment. Shouldn’t they at least be holding a large amount in escrow until after the event?
    So many thing are wrong with this at first glance!

  45. Amom says:

    I just went on the Spartan website, Did you know that THEY are charging for parking? $10 per car, $20 per van and $50 per bus!

  46. Layla says:

    The BOCC needs to go and take their money grubbing scheming County Administrator Craig Coffeey with them. This one is worth a lawsuit. This is OUR preserve, not yours, BOCC. Time to vote these people out and finally fire Coffey.

  47. JenS says:

    In what universe does it make sense that Reebok, the sponsor for this event, requires subsidizing by our local tax dollars?

  48. Edith Campins says:

    No! Write to the commissioners, let’s show up at the next meeting. This is wrong on all levels. What idiot signed contract that doesn’t specify restoring the land? Write to Spartan.

    Where are 6,000 people going to park? Where are they going to to the bathroom? Who is going to pay for the extra police to control such an event?


  49. djsii says:

    You can bet that some ones pockets are being lined at the taxpayers expense.

    Why, otherwise, would our county Government allow an organization come into our area, rape the land, and leave. There appears to be no current or future value to the citizens of the county. It makes absolutely no sense to allow Spartan to come in and destroy a pristine area for the purpose of temporary entertainment to those outside the community.

  50. Stop this now!!! says:

    I think we should band together and file a lawsuit to stop this now!!!

  51. Joe says:

    Well elections have consequences, enjoy your new jail at the old hospital paying twice what its worth for the old POS building because you won’t be enjoying the beauty of the the preserve for a long time after this event ruins it. Craig Coffey strikes again!!!

  52. Flatsflyer says:

    Time for pitch forks and other similar remedies.

  53. Bob Cuff says:

    This is appalling. I’ve been trying to think of some more insightful way to express my disgust with this event, but “appalled” is all I’ve got. Anyone who believes the economic benefits of this event are worth what is going on here is delusional. Ditto, if anyone thinks the exposure this will provide will tell the world anything about Flagler County except that we’ll fall for anything and turn over our most pristine resources to any out of town huckster who promises us “economic benefits” and “exposure.”

  54. Ron says:

    This idea is nonsense. Do not destroy a preserve. Mr. Dunn do you want to attract visitors. Get the Hotel at the Palm Coast Resort built. Redo the tennis complex that provided professional tennis matches. This property is an eyesore. Stop the vacation rental abuse in single family homes. Attract new businesses that will pay a decent wage. Attract upscale resturants to the community.

  55. Kendall says:

    Here are the e mail addresses for our County Commissioners. I urge everyone concerned to let them know how you feel so we can see who will defend this special PRESERVED piece of land from Dunn and Coffey’s absurd and unacceptable folly.

    • Oldseadog says:

      Thanks for the listing of County Commissioner e-mail addresses.
      I sent each a strong message and hope EVERY CONCERNED VOTER does the same.

    • Charles F. Ericksen, Jr says:

      I have received 25+ “NO” emails since the proposal was brought up at the Tourist Development Council meeting. This was not an action by the BOCC. Eventually it will be decided by action of the BOCC..I ask that as many as possible let their opinion be known.

  56. Tree Hugger says:

    The more I read the article and look through the details the more upset I get. These people will do anything to take a buck as well as to get a buck. You can tell Dunn is a Newbie in this County with his fantastic “Chariots of fire” dreams. Between the County and the City blocking/extorting past potential business ventures with excessive impact fees and made up along the way codes you would think something like this would be unheard of but obviously these politicians have reached a new low. Why doesn’t the county use one of its other multiple properties it has stashed away for future school sites or let them have it in the parking lot of the Government Services Building? What’s even crazier is any given day you go in the Preserve these clowns have ninety five percent of it on lockdown. Most people don’t know or they’re ill prepared to park and walk the whole Preserve without warning. The big Island house on the left when you cross the bridge is a key piece of history and they have it blocked off like Bill Gates lives in there the whole setup looks like it’s meant to shuffle you in and shuffle you out and they claim they want to attract people give me a break! The kayaks and canoes look like dead Palm Fronds and rotten mangos, no driving signs are posted on all the wood lines but what are the good ole Spartans going to do? Tear the place up! If you want to make some money build a world class reception center for weddings and top notch functions and stop having Billy Bob kick people out at dusk and maybe you’ll put it on the map in a positive way. I got one; let every pencil pushing, white collar politician responsible for this get first dibs at running the actual course. If they finish in one piece it’s a go, if not they go back to worshiping golf balls and their egos.

  57. John Russell says:

    I grew up visiting there as a kid while my father did work on the estate for Mr. Wadsworth. Years later I took my own children there to see the Preserve and enjoy it. While I am no longer in the area, I still try to keep track of the local events. I can’t believe that the county would think this is a good idea, I’d love to see who is getting money slid into their back pocket.

  58. Ray Thorne says:

    Unacceptable. Time for a new tourism chief as it is evident Mr. Dunn has no sense and cares not for preserved land and the wildlife it is home to.

  59. Tree Hugger says:

    Here’s one more suggestion, if the Spartans truly want a challenge go battle St Johns water management for use of Graham Swamp off of Colbert Drive. You could set up your obstacle course all day long, five miles of pure nature hell! Find your self helicoptered out of there when you break a bone and surrounded by gators and hogs looking to make you breakfast, lunch and dinner. They still can’t come to an agreement what to truly use that location for.

  60. Kendall says:

    I started a facebook group called Save Princess Place. Concerned citizens are welcome to join.

  61. Knightwatch says:

    O.k., I’m outraged. They’ve crossed the line. What’s out next step(s) … bombard the commission with emails, personal telephone calls and in-person protests ant commission meetings??

  62. Sherry E says:

    Right On Everyone! I just sent my emails to all the commissioners. I, too, am urging every person who has commented here to spread the word about this insanity and to let your voices be heard by those who should be representing us and protecting what is designated to be a “nature preserve”! Rise up citizens, do not let this happen!

  63. Alternative Thinker says:

    Here’s an idea: Hold it at Matanzas Golf Course. This would solve the owner and City of Palm Coast’s problem and save, get the event here, and save taxpayer money.

  64. gary morris says:

    Why the world would people to this to a preserve. Do they have a clue? Why don’t they hold it on developed land? I believe the world is going crazy and it has taken America.

  65. gary morris says:


  66. Layla says:

    Supervisor Meeker is responding to concerns about this as if there will be a vote of the BOCC soon, yet look at this message received in response from a local re this extreme race:

    Gary B. (Spartan Race US)
    Aug 21, 07:22
    Thank you for your email and concern. Unfortunately we will not be able to change the venue or location for this event as we have already committed to our racers to put on an event at this locations and hundreds if not thousands have already starting making plans to be there. I can assure you that when we put on an event we would work with the local managers or rangers to ensure the course will not have any affect on the history or usage after we have left. We have put on hundreds of events at varying locations, from Indian Tribal lands, to state parks, to active working farms, and have always been invited back due to the level of consideration we have for the venue we use.
    Gary B.
    Assistant Director


  67. Layla says:

    Apparently Spartan brings their races to a community, trashes it and then leaves just as quickly as it came, leaving the community to pick up the pieces.

  68. Knightwatch says:

    I don’t believe the BOCC has approved this. They know many of us do not approve of this use of the Princess Place Preserve. Let’s await their discussion and attend the meeting, if possible.

  69. Sherry E says:

    ATTENTION SUPPORTERS OF PRINCESS PLACE. . . While Barbara Revels, Nate McLaughlin and Charlie Erickson responded to my concerns by supporting the preservation of Princess Place, here is (copied and pasted) the response I received from Commissioner Frank Meeker :


    I appreciate your comments, but I thought the Flagler Live article was a bit premature. Until I see a map showing me the route of this event, walk the route, and review the obstacles, I’m not going to get too excited about potential damage as I find the environment to be fairly resilient to horseback riding in groups, boy scout group camping, Creekside Festival, High School Regional Cross County Races, and other events. The environment has been here much longer than the rest of us, and survived clear cutting of the county (including this entire park), damming of water bodies (the pre-revolutionary war saw mill across the street on the west side of US-1), and excavations of wetlands well before Flagler existed, and after. I’m not saying those were necessarily good things (the cutting up of the Mulberry in Palm Coast is a good example of something not so good in my view), I’m just saying the environment adapted to give us what we’ve got now. You’re already aware that I’m an environmental scientist as well as a certified environmental professional with over 35 years of working in these areas. There are some locations that you wouldn’t notice the race had been there (all of the land recently logged across the street previously owned by the St. Johns River Water Management District, and now owned by us), there are others you wouldn’t know it was there in three months (most of the pine flatwoods areas, some of the bluff areas), and there are others that would show damage for years to come. I’m getting emails from runners who enjoy challenges out in the wild, even one from Audubon so I think there is room for all, but I’d like to wait until I have all of the facts regarding the race before I go and stake a position that this is environmentally stupid, or environmentally friendly. If it’s going to be stupid, it gets denied, if friendly, well then why not let it happen. We haven’t seen a map, we haven’t seen what type of obstacles, (although I’m told they are much smaller and less intrusive than the ones shown on their website). Again,….it’s a wait and see what they factually look like when proposed as opposed to get a wrecking ball out now not knowing anything. I’d add that Creekside and other events have similar very short term effects, all again depending upon where they go. Be patient, and stay involved and let’s see what they come up with and where before we judge based on a news article, a website, and no other information.

    Frank J. Meeker, C.E.P.

  70. Sherry E says:

    Here is my reply to Commissioner Meeker:

    Mr. Meeker. . . I am extremely disappointed in your reply!

    Simply because there has been damage and misuse of this nature preserve in the past does not excuse or condone continuing to do damage to this fragile environment. That is precisely why this nature “preserve” was created to begin with. We all need to pull together to keep natural areas intact for the “current” as well as future generations of adults and children to gently enjoy in wonder and amazement . . . and in educational understanding and appreciation of the natural beauty in our stewardship. Maybe the habitat will recover some day, but what is the justification for allowing it to be damaged now?

    This event could most certainly be moved to an area that has already been trampled upon . . . paradise that has already been paved. I simply to not see ANY long termed benefits in sacrificing the pristine environment of Princess Place for any sporting event. That’s what “sporting” venues are for!

    I certainly appreciate Flagler Live for getting out ahead of this issue and for letting our citizens know what apparently has been going on behind closed doors. These decisions are important to all those who are concerned about our quality of life here in Flagler county.

    Again, I am very disappointed in your current perspective and hope to see you much more attuned to the desires of your constituents in the future.

  71. John Russell says:

    I agree with his response, he isn’t jumping on either bandwagon without looking at the facts from either side. It would be nice if more people did this, for all things.

  72. tulip says:

    I agree that an issue should be examined from all sides without any bias, but the deal seems to have been talked about already amongst a chosen few and the push is to have the event, unless enough conscientious commissioners vote against it and don’t change their minds.

  73. Brad W says:

    Disgusting that this would be suggested AND gotten this far. Our County government is way out of control and Coffey needs to go. Very very disappointed in the TDC which typically does a great job. This is extremely inappropriate to suggest such an event be held at Princess Place.

  74. Ellen Roberts says:

    The people of Flagler County need to bring a lawsuit against “the county administration and Matt Dunn, the county’s tourism chief,. This park was for the people of this area, not for a paid for event that the county will not benefit from at all. The Princess Place Preserve beauty will be destroyed. There is no way for the Spartan Race Inc., to make it better after they leave. They have admitted there will be excessive wear and tear to the area. Let these people take their endurance race elsewhere. since they are the only ones benefitting from it. I have family in Flagler County and we have had several family dinners at the park. It is a very serene place to be for the day. Stand up People of Flagler County & dont let these 2 men throw this away. You cant replace natural nature that men tear up.

  75. Cyd Weeks says:

    As per an email from Barbara Revels the event has been cancelled and there will be an announcement about it Monday. Perhaps now they can take the time to find a suitable venue for it.

  76. Layla says:

    The event will be canceled. A press release will be issued by Monday. Thanks for showing your concern, it helped tremendously.
    Barbara S. Revels
    County Commissioner, District 3

  77. Edith Campins says:

    Well, Sherry at least you got the courtesy of a reply. Even if it was bs. I wasn’t so lucky.

  78. Edith Campins says:

    P. S. Meeker obviously hasn’t seen the Spartan website which is already registering participants and charging the up to $109 to enter. They seem very certain that the race is a done deal.

  79. Catherine says:

    Leave Princess Place Preserve the heck alone!

  80. Layla says:

    Suddenly we hear the race has not been cancelled after all? Time for a full investigation of who is doing the lying here. Coffey does not make these decisions for the BOCC. I think it’s time end his contract.

  81. cindy says:

    let’s stop destroying what nature has given us!
    What can we do to stop this from happening??

  82. Anonymous says:

    The crybabies win!

  83. Barry Hartmann says:

    A word of advice to all: Do not trust Mr. Meeker , he is only for himself.
    Thank you

  84. Edith Campins says:

    Did you really think this was a wise use of tax dollars, Mr. Anonymous?

  85. Sharon Joyce Ellis says:

    What Flagler County has is a treasure which is not available in other coastal areas of Florida. The county staff and the commissioners should be protecting what we have not offering it to whoever wants to come and defile it. When the Hotel on the beach came before the Commission, it did not matter what the deed restrictions were or that over 1500 signatures were collected in opposition to a beach front hotel. It seems they want Flagler County to be more like Daytona Beach. All this action is taken without regard for the citizens who in reality own these PUBLIC properties.

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