The Flagler Beach City Commission Thursday voted 4-0 to approve a new policy regulating how the Flagler Beach pier may be rented out for private parties–and closed to the general public–up to six times a year.
Two portions of the pier may be rented out: the 875-square-foot T-portion at the end of the pier, popular for fishing and certain ceremonies, can be rented out for $75 an hour, for a maximum of three hours at a time, for up to six times a year. The whole pier may be rented out six times year for $115 an hour, with a three-hour minimum and an 18-hour maximum.
When the commission discussed the proposal last month, commissioners were concerned that they might price out the Flagler Beach Museum from holding its popular, annual fund-raiser on the pier. Thursday, commissioners found a way around that: the commission created a special category of city functions that are exempt from having to pay the rental fee (but not the walk-on fee). The commission agreed to declare the museum’s event a city function, or a city-sponsored function, when museum officials appear before commissioners to secure their alcohol permit for the fund-raiser.
The exemption won’t necessarily be limited to the museum. Penny: “Anyone who completes one of those forms has the authority or the option to come before the commission and ask for a waiver of fees,” City Clerk Penny Overstreet said. “The museum particularly is the event you’re talking about now, they would come before you anyway as long as they continue to have alcohol at that event.”
Commissioners left unclear whether exempted events will count against the total of six permissible events when the pier may be closed. But they did make clear that four events the city itself sponsors do not count against that total, such as Memorial Day, Veterans Day and 9/11 ceremonies.
“As long as we understands that those minor memorial-type services are not included in the six,” Commissioner Kim Carney said.
“Those are city functions, basically,” Overstreet said said. That means the pier may end up closed to the general public up to 10 times a year.
Mayor Linda Provencher had been displeased with the way the plan had been portrayed–as a money-maker–in media. “It’s not to make money,” Provencher said. “We’ve had people approach us to do activities on our pier, and we have nothing in place to do that. We had the Rotary wanting to do the yoga, we’ve had people ask about weddings or parties or what have you. We had nothing in place. So this is to put something in place, so if somebody comes, OK, this is what it costs, this is what it is, and if they’re interested, fine, if they’re not, fine. The way it was presented—and I think six days out of the year? It’s not like we’re kicking the fishermen and other people off of the pier every other day. Six times out of the year.”
But Overstreet reminded her that the motive for the rentals was, in fact, to make money: “You’re not going to get rich Linda,” Overstreet said, “but it was brought up in our strategic planning, is where this came from, and that was to generate revenue to relieve burdens from the general fund.”
“So it’ll be something. We won’t get rich on it,” Commissioner Mealy said.
Commission Chairman Marshall Shupe took advantage of the discussion to bring up a point no other commissioner seemed interested in engaging: the $1.50-per-person walk-on fee and fishing fees. “We have not raised these prices for admission since 2007,” Shupe said. That may be a discussion for another day.
No member of the public addressed commissioners before the 4-0 vote, the first of two votes on the ordinance. The second vote is expected to enact the proposal in two weeks.