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Citing Disrespect, Flagler Beach Emphatically Tells A1A Group To Stick Its Signs Elsewhere

| April 29, 2016

flagler beach signs

It wasn’t until last month that Flagler Beach residents got their first inkling of what new ‘directional’ signs cluttering A1A would look like. Residents were opposed. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler Beach City Commission could not have sent a clearer message to the Scenic A1A Pride Committee Thursday evening: Take your signs and shove ‘em.

The commission, in a 5-0 vote, decided to inform state transportation officials that they are opposed to any of the eight large “directional” signs the A1A committee—a volunteer scenic organization—started planting in Flagler Beach last month, without formal approval or input from the city, and to the opposition of an overwhelming number of residents.

City Manager Larry Newsom said this afternoon that he relayed the message by phone to Florida Transportation Department District 5 Secretary Noranne Downs today, and would follow up with a letter Monday, copied to the state secretary.

The A1A committee had secured a $230,000 federal grant in 2012 to put up signs all along State Road A1A in St. Johns and Flagler counties, ostensibly to reduce the clutter of signs by making other signs unnecessary. Instead, the signs are getting planted in addition to other signs, without a clear need for them, without a plan to remove other signs, without public hearings to inform residents, and, it appears to city commissioners, without permits or other required formal steps that normally accompany such federal grants.

The commission had not been outright opposed to the signs had the A1A committee respected some of its requirements that they be limited to four at either end of town. But the city’s wishes were not respected.

“Had this been done this way, it probably wouldn’t have been a problem—the four signs on either side of town,” Linda Provencher, the Flagler Beach mayor, said. “It was just the whole way it went down, and for us to be laughed at and scoffed at, and nobody to listen to us, especially when [City Manager Larry Newsom] and I met with the person who wrote that grant, the commissioner from St. Johns, and said don’t do anything in Flagler Beach until you show the commission what you’re doing. And they went ahead and did it. So at this point, I’m done with these signs, I’m sick of talking about them, I’m sick of thinking about them, I’m just, whatever we need to do, because the people have spoken. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how I feel or anybody else up here feels. The people have spoken.”

Commissioner Marshall Shupe was no less categorical: “As far as I’m concerned I don’t want any of them.”

Documentation obtained by FlaglerLive buttresses the commission’s opposition. A February 2011 letter from Richard Morrow, a district engineer with the transportation department, to Sallie O’Hara, the A1A committee administrator, was explicit: while DOT was “in concurrence with the design and placement of the signage as shown” in a 2011 document, Morrow also made clear: “The local governments will need to provide an ordinance or resolution adopting the wayfinding sign system as the only system to be used in their jurisdiction.”

“As far as I’m concerned I don’t want any of them,” one city commissioner says.

The only document Flagler Beach approved six years ago was to “consider” such signs, and to limit them to four, with specific areas excluded.

The A1A Committee ignored the city, and moved ahead with a plan to plant eight signs, and to do so without a single public hearing in the county.

Asked for a list of public hearings the A1A committee held after applying for the grant—which, according to documents O’Hara provided, was submitted in late 2012—O’Hara said that “a log of meetings between January 2012 and currently does not exist.” She provided a list of meetings headlined “Wayfinding Plan Meetings/Support,” from February 2010 to December 2011, but the list of meetings seems to be an all-but-kitchen-sink type list of all A1A and related meetings or events (including a sea turtle festival, a lighthouse festival, and a Gamble Rogers celebration) held during that period, with nothing specifying whether the meetings were focused on the signage plan.

Earlier this week Flagler Beach opened City Hall for a workshop so residents could voice their opinions about the signs, in answer to five questions. City Clerk Penny Overstreet tallied the results.

From 231 cards returned, 218 respondents, or 94 percent, said they did not like the proposed signs. Almost the same proportion said the signs should be reduced, while 72 percent said they should all be removed. One respondent, asked where removed signs should be planted, said Daytona Beach.

For all that, the A1A committee’s disrespect toward Flagler Beach appears to have continued down to this week, when Flagler Beach Commissioner Rick Belhumeur attended an A1A meeting Wednesday in St. Augustine.

a1a signs

The final call will be made by the transportation department, not the A1A committee, City Manager Larry Newsom said. (© FlaglerLive)

“They’re just going to totally disregard whatever information we gathered as a result of the workshop and going to recommend that they put up all the signs, and it’s up to us to worry about getting rid of them,” Belhumeur reported. “I did mention why I was there, that a presentation was made to this commission back in 2010, and things were discussed, concerns were shared, and recommendations were made, and at that point in time, they were on notice that it’s a temperamental subject in Flagler Beach. So it makes me kind of wonder from that point whether we were really forgotten or ignored, to be honest with you. The attitudes that I saw at the meeting yesterday, they didn’t care too much about what we wanted.”

Danielle Anderson, a member of the A1A committee who attended the same meeting, saw it differently. “I don’t think the meeting yesterday was quite as unpleasant,” she told Belhumeur and the city commission Thursday. “We did invite you to join our committee as a representative for Flagler Beach, and what we were trying to portray yesterday was that there are options, it doesn’t have to be cut and dried the way it’s been presented.” She said compromise was still possible.

But that compromise entailed keeping most signs where they are and perhaps moving one or two. The city commission is no longer interested in that arrangement, even though the foundations for the signs have already been drilled and poured.

No matter what the A1A committee decides, Newsom said, “That’s not the final decision in my opinion. DOT will make the call, and DOT wants to know what this commission in this room, and the mayor, what they want. So please keep that in mind.”

That’s why the formal vote and the communications to the transportation department. But that may still leave signs planted.

“I understand through the grapevine that if they put them up and we want to take them down, we’ve got to pay for them, and we’ve got to pay for them to take them down,”  Shupe said.

That would allegedly be $4,000 per sign,” Provencher said. “We’re not going to pay $4,000 to take them down,” the mayor said.

“If we get an invoice for any of this, I’m not going to vote to pay one penny,” Shupe said. “I don’t care whether it’s to install them, take them out, take them to the dump.”

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18 Responses for “Citing Disrespect, Flagler Beach Emphatically Tells A1A Group To Stick Its Signs Elsewhere”

  1. Duke Ganote says:

    Kudos to the headline writer

  2. YankeeExPat says:

    A $230,000 federal grant for eight large “directional” signs? What kind of sign cost $28,750.00 a piece?

  3. Carol Fisher says:

    You might just find a lot of them spray painted over. Residents of Flagler Beach do NOT want this!

  4. Shane says:

    But let’s remember this:
    The City’s seat on the committee that was specifically reserved so the city would have representation was vacated over a year ago. The commission said they couldn’t find anyone who wanted to sit on the committee and be the city’s representative. Well the person who was sitting on that committee before she left was a city commissioner. Maybe one of the other commissioners should of stepped up and filled that vacancy instead of crying the blues and saying they never knew anything. Shame on them, not the committee.
    Seems like a habit for the city to not have members on committees or a full board that takes care of city business.

  5. No says:

    You are correct.

  6. No says:

    Didn’t you see where the ditzy mayor said it was around $4,000 per sign not that ridiculous number?

  7. No says:

    Then you are wasting taxpayer money. Congrats you played yourself

  8. Dave says:

    I guess I a resident would like to know, just how big are these signs and where were they designated to go.

  9. Robert Lewis says:

    Thank you Adam Moorley for polluting our beach views.
    Is this more of what we can expect if a miracle happens and he actually beats Paul Renner.

  10. Tracy Callahan says:

    I am perplexed as to why this is an issue…. It saddens me that people in our community have been given an obscene amount of grant money for signs and then our community has to spend even more money to have meetings to discuss that fact that we don’t want the signs in the first place. Then to disregard this group who has been given the grant ( so they have obviously put time and effort to receive this money) why don’t you people work together to put this money to good use ???? And I do not want to hear how Flagler Beach government has been inconvenienced because they don’t have the same vision as this group #workitoutpeople #flaglerbeach

  11. Dave says:

    How can these 8 signs for 18 miles of road not be as obnoxious as some of the business signs that are painted on a business or the dirt parking areas in front of a business. Some of these business signs look like a 1st grader painted them. I say clean up the half ass business signs and make Flagler beach look a lot more educated.

  12. Rich says:

    What we have here, is a failure to communicate!

  13. Decades in Flagler Beach says:

    Dave, that’s what the workshop at City Hall, was for. There was a display showing the size, the message and the location of all the signs destined for Flagler Beach. That information can still be obtained from City Hall or the Friends of A1a group. The signs are 6 feet wide and from 2 1/2 to 5 feet tall.

    Keep in mind that the 6 mile Flagler Beach portion of the 72 mile project is the only section with direct unobstructed views of the ocean from A1a. After all, that has always been unarguably Flagler Beach’s “main attraction”. That also is why most of its residents were attracted here and they don’t want huge 30 square foot signs blocking the views from their front yards or while traveling on A1a. Flagler Beach has always been mindful of its views and has on several occasions has had multitudes of excessive signs removed along A1a.

  14. Bc. says:

    I don’t get it large signs on A1A the road runs north and south. Why do we Need LARGE signs to tell us we are goin north or south. Most folks have gps. This is a wast of money, and would be ugly on our scenic hwy. the clowns who were in favor of this should be voted out.

  15. Phil Parlante says:

    if they put up the signs I will volunteer to take them down and I’m sure other people wold also volunteer thereby making taking them down free. I’m also sure there are people out there with some heavy equipment that will make it a one day project

  16. Kim says:

    I still don’t get why a “scenic” organization (who made such a big deal a few years ago proudly pulling DOWN signs in the Hammock) would now be advocating putting UP signs in Flagler Beach? Makes no sense? Are they now part of the TDC?

  17. Dave says:

    Thank you Decades for that information. We really don’t need signs that are 6 feet wide and from 2 1/2 to 5 feet tall along our roadways. #1, its a eyesore , #2 it serves no real purpose. If people don’t have a clue were they are driving , they shouldn’t be driving in the first place. In this day and age of information which is now at our fingertips obnoxious signs have no place on a 2 lane road. #3 if the county lets the DOT do this, we the people in the county open ourselves up for future signage.

    Use the $230,000 federal grant money to fix some of the drainage problems in Flagler Beach. But of course the county and city will hire a special advisor to study the problem and that will cost #230k. Go figure.

  18. Retired law enforcement says:

    Is the A1A committee a ‘government entity” ? Or are they a group of self involved pain in the BLANK.

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