Seven years ago Bunnell government ended five years of nomadic existence, squatting in the Government Services Building for most of that time, and bought the 13,000-square-foot complex at the corner of State Road 100 and South Main Street for $600,000, making it its new home.
The city needed just 5,000 square feet, but it took the rest, figuring it could expand over time. The property had once been that of a charter school that the school board had shut down for poor performance. Mayor Catherine Robinson alone voted against the acquisition, fearing that the age of the buildings and roof issues would lead to costly problems, though they were all built in 1999. “We had concerns about the courthouse and I’ve got concerns about what this is going to cost, just because I know about old buildings, and I’ve lived many a day in that old building that looks good now,” Robinson said at the time.
Turns out Robinson may have been onto something: water leaks are causing the city’s Utility Billing and Community Development offices to relocate indefinitely. It was water leaks, Bunnell residents will recall, that forced the city to move out of its rustic but old Coquina City Hall on South Pine Street and East Court Avenue in 2009. That building now houses the city’s police department records division.
“We’re having to do some construction or mitigation on some areas where we found some water leaks and so forth,” City Manager Alvin Jackson said today. The extent of the problem is not yet known, he said, as he will be evaluating that next. The priority was on ensuring that the offices would continue operating with minimal interruptions.
In 2013, the city had first accepted from county government to take possession of the old courthouse on Moody Boulevard, for free, then returned the building out of fear that it would prove leaky and difficult to maintain. The courthouse was converted into a private parochial school in 2015.
The utility and Community Development offices will relocating to a storefront in the strip mall behind the Chicken Pantry restaurant, at 604 East Moody Boulevard, Unit 6. It will do so on March 30, requiring the two offices to be closed to the public that day, but available for public business at the new location the next day. The city will be renting the storefront for $800 a month. Jackson said he was “not sure how long we’ll be there.”
Payments may still be made using our drop boxes and the billpay.bunnellcity.us option through our website, telephone (toll free 1-855-589-7814) or the city’s mobile app during this move and office set-up. City customers will be able to resume making payments in person for utility bills, permits, business tax receipts and other city invoices at 604 East Moody Boulevard Unit 6 as of March 31.
If you require immediate assistance with bill pay or making a payment to the City, please call 386-437-7500, option 3, and leave a message or send an email to [email protected]
Jan Reeger says
Giving our historic and classic Courthouse (approx. 50,000 sq. ft.) back to the County was one of the biggest mistakes ever made by the City of Bunnell. It only cost about $200,000 more to prepare the building for the current school tenant than it did to buy and do a ghastly job of renovating the substantially smaller current City Hall (approx. 20,000 sq. ft.). The difference could have been easily recouped by renting unneeded space in the Courthouse. Not only are there roof problems at City Hall, but it was a really terrible floor plan design and staff bring in portable AC units because the HVAC is another mess. The Commission meeting room is woefully inadequate and more space is needed to properly accommodate all the operational needs of the City.
This is one of the saddest examples of blindly following a City Manager.
Next stop, John’s towing or the hot dog stand…..