In another big step in the the plan to rebuild dunes along Flagler’s 18 miles of shore, the county secured a $3.8 million state grant to build the segment that parallels Gamble Rogers State Recreation Area at the south end of Flagler Beach, extending the planned 2.6 miles of dune reconstruction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the city.
But false claims, disinformation, made up fears, “fairy tales” and allegations of government threats are hampering the county’s efforts to secure the necessary easements from a small group of hold-out property owners. Without the easements, the U.S. Army Corps will not proceed on its $25 million portion of the fully-funded project. That project was to have been under way by now and completed by December. It’s not clear when it will start.
“It’s the purveying of these false statements that is causing some people to hesitate, because they don’t know,” County Attorney Al Hadeed said Thursday evening, addressing the Flagler Beach City Commission and referring to hold-outs. The number of easements still not secured has been stuck at 13 (with 128 secured) for weeks. Flagler Beach volunteers have raised $60,000 through a GoFundMe account literally to pay off hold-outs, if that’s what they’re wanting.
Hadeed said the plan has met with some successes in the South 2700 block on State Road A1A, “but I do have an owner there that is very strident in not believing that this is an appropriate project.” That owner and others have been susceptible to believing bogus claims, Hadeed said, among them that easements acquired by the county would somehow be transferred or signed over to a third entity, “and that is a fairy tale, that’s an absolute fairy tale,” Hadeed said.
Most seriously, there’s been talk of government threats against hold-outs, “that the government has threatened these people,” Hadeed said, clearly indignant at the allegation. “We don’t threaten anybody. The most we do is provide information. If we find out something and either because they ask it or because it’s become a popular myth and we need to debunk the myth, we put that information out there, and we’re trying to get them to understand the value of the project, especially when the only interest we are attempting to get is the right to do the project. We don’t want to take the land. We don’t want any ownership. There is no change in their domain over their property, except that they will have a dune restored where they have no dune right now, and we’ll maintain for 50 years at no cost to them.” (The federal government is pledging to renourrish the beach every 10 to 11 years for the next half century, but shouldering only half the cost. The county is responsible for securing the other half, whether through its own tax revenue or through state grants, as it did for the project’s initial phase.)
“If anybody is doing the threatening, please tell me. I don’t have any problem summoning law enforcement if we need to,” Hadeed said. “The gentleman told me–I do not believe him–but the gentleman told me that somebody had their titres slashed and their car vandalized, and I’ve never heard that. I’m sure I would have heard that from somebody. So this is a person that’s just stirring up a lot. I’m saying it because I want it to be publicly known, I want people who have heard any of this stuff–if they want any additional clarification, if they want to make sure that what I’m saying is accurate, in other words that the DOT didn’t offer the whatever, I want them to feel free to contact us and we will straighten them out. And anyone who fears, I don’t know, who fears whatever, we’re certainly willing to deal with that. I have said, I know that residents of the beachside are very upset, very upset, with owners who are stalling the project.”
The project was to have been under way by now, and done by the end of December before the winter seas, and at a time when tourism would be least affected. “Now we’ve missed that timeline because of people not coming forward and in my opinion, not doing the right thing,” Hadeed said. “They have no excuse now. If they think the right thing is they need to get a check, we’ve got an organization that’s willing to do that, OK? So in my mind there’s no excuse. There’s no excuse.”
Allegations of threats are only part of the disinformation eroding the county’s efforts. One other bogus claims making the rounds of hold-outs is that there’s an alleged promise by the Florida Department of Transportation that it would pay for a seawall where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer would also rebuild dunes. “I don’t believe that there was ever any kind of proposal like that,” Hadede said. In fact, the Army Corps is expressly opposed to sea walls where its own projects are in effect.
Holdouts are also speaking of alternatives to the Corps project, such as building a long beach that extends far out from the dune line, as beaches do in South Florida. “I don’t know that that’s appropriate for Flagler Beach or Flagler County. That’s not our community, right?” Hadeed said. “The design has been done very specifically to protect to the maximum extent with the knowledge known, with the data known, the best engineering principle to protect our community. That’s how I push back on those kinds of arguments.”
On a brighter note, the county is in the process of signing an agreement with the Department of Environmental Protection to allow Flagler to restore dunes along Gamble Rogers. “They’re providing us $3.8 million to do that, so they’ll fully fund that activity, and that obviously includes use of the offshore sand as well,” Hadeed said. The department is willing to pay in advance. Typically, projects of the sort are reimbursed.
But even that segment is being held back by the delays on the Army Corps portion, which has led the county to threaten eminent domain proceedings against holdouts–the taking of property for public use, in exchange for payment set by a judge.
“We want to get under way, we want to lock up those funds,” Hadeed said, “if we want to do the eminent domain, we’ve got it going. We’re not waiting to find out the person’s answer, we’re going, and we’ll do whatever we need to do in the South 2700 block.”
This project is a waste of time and money. It is the equivelent to putting a band aid on a limb that needs amputated.
Kudos to the home owners holding out and keeping this disaster from happening!
The ocean will soon swallow A1A.
Move A1A to Central ave!
After the ocean swallows up A1A, then what happens when the ocean swallows Central Ave? Woohoo, my property value on S Daytona Ave will triple as it will now be ocean front property. Well except for one lone property just one house south of the corner of 15th and A1A where the owner built his own house with HUGE concrete pilings down into the earth such that it will withstand anything that Mother Nature throws at it. (Great job, Mike) He will then have to build a pier to get out to his house from S Daytona Ave.
What the hell is wrong with these people?
Move the town and FIRE the Corps of phony Engineers.
Get on with it! Time to invoke eminent domain and be done with it. Enough is enough! Let the judge decide how much each holdout gets for their little piece of seacoast. Then remove their private dune crossover if there is one and let them use the public ones.
E, ROBOT says
You must be new to FB. The Atlantic Ocean is the most powerful force on earth. It will take what it needs for a beach. A1A is in its way. Notice the road north and south of us leaves as much beach as the ocean requires, ergo it doesn’t flood.
I don’t want any more of my taxes spent on beach restoration.
Concerned Citizen says
Eminent Domain is a slipery slope to tread.
Besides when those folks bought they paid for that property and it came with Littoral rights. While it might seem trivial to you or other residents it’s not your property. How would you like it if Flagler County came in and claimed the rest of your yard to widen a road. Regardless of how busy the road is.
My stance on Eminent Domain is don’t let it happen. And fight it all the way. Once a government gets a taste of taking something by force it becomes an easy thing to do.
This project is worthless anyway. And is tearing a community apart. The next good Nor’Easter or close Hurricane is going to wash every bit of it out to sea.
The city already owns 15 feet of my front lawn from the edge of the existing road which as a property owner I am required to maintain. The only way my property would be taken with eminent domain is to build new dune crossovers when Central is washed into the ocean for not doing anything.
Concerned Citizen says
Millions of dollars on the line for a project that won’t survive another good Nor’Easter. Or close Hurricane like Matthew. All that pricey sand you’re repaying for from the ocean will get washed right back out.
Meanwhile it’s tearing a community apart because people are trying to protect THEIR PROPERTY. Something they worked and paid for. The ocean side of their property came with Littoral Rights to protect that purchase. Yet you have a whole community of jealous folks who think that it’s perfectly OK for Flagler County to claim Emminent Domain and seize it without fair compensation. Again for a worthless project.
Trust me when I tell you this. I have seen it happen first hand. Once a government claims Emminent Domain and gets a taste of taking things by force it doesn’t stop. I saw it in Atlanta when the new runway for the airport was built. And countless times for interstate expansion. Our “BOCC” and “County Attorney” are worthless and corrupt. And do not represent the citizens. So I call BS on the fact that threats and coersion haven’t been tried. Hell you lovely citizens of Flagler Beach tried to bully and publicly shame them on social media. Shame on you for that by the way. It’s no different than doing it in person.
For those I keep hearing advocating moving A1A to South Central. Do you think those residents are going to stand by quietly and let you gobble up yards and property? Probably not. Again they paid for that home and if the county wanted it then make them pay for it.
Did you know?
That these millions of dollars being wasted on beach beautification are needed so desperatley elsewhere? Think of what we could do for mental health in this county. Think of how we could address the homeless issue. Shelters could be built and staffed. Programs could be funded to help the homeless (many who are vets btw) transition back into society.
Instead we want to throw money into the ocean because tourism is more important. All one has to do is look at the shoddy work done to repair A1A. And know that this project doesn’t stand a snowballs chance in hell of surviving. TheA rmy Corp Of Engineers will do exactly what Flagler beach did. And go with the lowest bidder. And all this contraversy will be for not.
Doyle Lewis says
I love this, love brings on love. Safety for peoples lives comes First! This project put people to work and that is a great thing. Doing nothing to rebuild the dunes has one effect only! Lets just watch and see what happens does only one thing. lets just watch, everybody lets just watch, Ok lets just watch some more, Wow did you see it. Did you see what happened. Wow what happened. NOTHING HAPPENED!! That was fun lets do nothing again. This is what happens when nothing happens. I am so glad that all of the loving people for Flagler Beach love this beach. Only one way to know how something works and that is by doing it and moving forward to the next day, week, month, and year. Love the Beach!!! Keep the LOVE…
Leonard Surles says
I want my beach pumped far and wide.I have all my savings in this property. If I loose the beach or town I may as well be in the everglades. But, I do not want a BURM or seawall built of beach sand 10 feet wide with vegetation that may soon block my view of the ocean. That’s right ,you heard me 10 feet of beach sand . How long will that stop a raging ocean ? 10 min or 15? Won’t it then take the road as before. I saw this happen in the town I grew up in . Completly lost the view of the beach from the road. Isn’t Flagler Beach one of the very few places you can drive along and still see the beach?Delray use to be. Just like Flagler.Please google Delray beach/ cutting the searapes. Question ? Why are we not pumping the PUBLIC beach or are we. Why aren’t we doing what all the other cities are doing? Pumping far and wide. Not up. Everyone I Have talked to thinks we are getting a big beautiful wide beach for 50 years. Has anyone ask how much wider our beach will be? I did . Who will control the beach property in the future???? Did anyone have a lawyer read the contract? We need sand on our beach and I am all for it. I spent weeks researching beach renourishment and talked to a number of engineers who are in charge of it for the different cities. Have we been misled ? Is there way more to this than I am saying ?