Note: The Flagler County Commission is expected to discuss Options regarding the county’s lease with Captain’s BBQ at Bing’s Landing at a meeting starting at 9 a.m. Monday.
By Joy Ellis
I am writing to request an independent professional inspection of the portions of the Captain’s BBQ building deemed to be unsustainable prior to any decision on building in Bing’s Landing County Park.
Universal Engineering Services did an inspection, but their report states that their work was performed on a “non-intrusive, non-destructive general observation of the accessible major building systems including roof, frame, foundation, walls, HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems.” Their report stated that parts of the building need to be repaired or replaced, but it did not mention any health or safety problems. This company also inspected the Sheriff’s Operations Center in Bunnell and the Sears building the county acquired on Palm Coast Parkway. Those inspections suggest that their work can be incomplete at best. In light of the faulty inspections and the potential liability to the county due to possibly unsafe conditions in the restaurant, we believe that an independent professional inspection of the restaurant is required.
County Administrator Jerry Cameron and County Attorney Al Hadeed met with Hammock Community Association representatives, including Dennis Clark, Todd Swinderman, Jane West, Dennis Bayer and me, on May 16. At the meeting, Cameron stated that the building is irreparable, and that he is uncertain if it will last for 30 months. Cameron said that staff had used a fiber optic camera to give him a view under the floor. “They told me the sills and joists had gone soft because of mold and fungus,” he said of county staff.
Hadeed pointed out the county could be exposed to potential liability if someone is injured in a building the county knows is unsafe. [The county is arguing differently in a negligence lawsuit by a customer injured at Captain’s.] He also said the county’s insurance carrier may not indemnify for this risk if the county has been aware of the problem. Therefore, this inspection is just as crucial to the county as it is to us.
HCA believes the county is obligated to verify the safety of its building. An independent inspection could allay any uncertainty regarding the current condition of the building and establish the possibility of making and keeping the building safe. If the Captain’s building is found to be unsafe due to structural or health risks, the county must close it immediately.
Another major consideration is public trust in government. The public’s trust in Flagler County government has been significantly eroded by the actions taken by government officials in rushing the now rescinded lease through the approval process. The new county administrator and new information provided to the commissioners make it possible to rectify this erosion of trust. Please do not take another step before verifying the condition of the building.
Prior to making a decision on building at Bing’s Landing County Park in order to satisfy a private business, I entreat you to authorize an independent inspection. HCA would help defray the cost, up to $4,000. The lease gives the lessor the ability to inspect the premises with a 24-hour notification so the county has every legal right to have this inspection performed.
The purpose of the inspection is to investigate those areas of Captain’s building suspected of damage and estimate the cost of materials and labor to extend the useful life of the building until 2026 without bringing the building up to the current wind code.
The inspection could include the following:
- County hires the independent inspector.
- HCA would pay for the inspection up to $4,000.
- HCA would have a representative present for the inspection.
- The inspection would be intrusive requiring access to the areas suspected of being substandard.
- The inspection would identify the condition and priority of the repair based on the time horizons shown below. The cost of the repair would specify materials and labor needed to complete the repairs required for:
- Those urgent repairs necessary to insure public safety.
- Determine if the building can be maintained at a safe level for 30 months?
- Determine if the building can be maintained at a safe level until the end of the lease in 2026?
- Factor in the use of County labor to make the necessary repairs.
- Identify which repairs can be made while the business is open and, if necessary, the length of a business interruption.
In cooperation with county staff, Todd Swinderman, a professional engineer, has volunteered to help define a detailed scope of the inspection.
HCA is willing to accept the validity of the inspection results if an HCA representative is present during the inspection and if the HCA has an opportunity to comment on the draft report. The final report would be made available to the county, Captain’s and the HCA.
Joy Ellis is president of the Hammock Community Association,
Dennis Clark says
Correction: Joy Ellis is the President of the Hammock Community Association
Thank you Mr. Clark, it’s been corrected.
These elected officials are a joke! Mentality of a 12 year old.
Concerned Citizen says
All of this is a moot point.
The County is afraid of the owners of Captains and don’t want to get sued. Why? They accepted bribes oops I mean “campaign contributions” from the owners. This allowed the owners to do what they want,get away with it and rub it in our faces.
Had any other resturaunt in the county dealt with numerous issues they would have been closed. From shoddy food handling to neglect of the premises the violations continue to add up. Makes you wonder if the Health Department recieved “campaign contributions” as well.
No my fellow readers Monday morning will be a waste of time. The BOCC will vote to let Captains have their way. They will get their shiny new resturaunt and the location of their choosing all on our dime. And all because our BOCC and county attorney are gutless cowards. And lack ethics.
We can remember this next election though. Flagler County is in dire need of a change in it’s leadership. County and City wide.
Percy's mother says
Provide the food establishment (Captains) with a couple of food trucks and be done with the building.
Construct a screened pavilion of sorts for patrons to sit and eat their meals.
The contract will be fulfilled and Captains can move on when the contract is up.
Why does this have to be so difficult? Is it possible to get anyone in government to think outside the box?
If the County wants to remove all doubt concerning this controversy, they will take the HCA’s ideas seriously.
Honest transparency will move this forward.
Maybe they can inspect some of the makeshift Meth labs that are located not too far away, across the road. Some of them are right next to Restaurant 386. They are not hard to find.
Dennis McDonald says
This paragraph is on the second page of the restated and amended lease..
WHEREAS, the Parties have discovered that the Original Location suffers from significant
structural deficiencies, defects and deterioration, which is well beyond normal wear and tear and
not caused by lack of maintenance or repair, that renders the Original Location unsuitable for the
Lessee’s intended use and occupancy for the remainder of the present term of the Lease
It would be legally ill advised that any landlord sign such an acknowledgement as it is an invitation to litigation. In light of the FACT that this County does NOT have a competent county attorney OR engineer, it would be advisable to back away from this Team McLaughlin train wreck and accept the offer from the Hammock group. With competent EXTERNAL engineering just about any building can be saved. The failed substrata of this building is common in Florida. Pressure grouting is the common solution as it is quick and effective. go to..http://floridapressuregrouting.com/
Shut Captain’s down immediately and let them drown in costs while everything sits around in court ,continue to delay till they run out of money and move on from our beautiful county that is far too good for shadey buisness owners like them
Can someone explain to me why we still use Universal Engineering Services to inspect buildings?
A remedy to the county building debacle, evict the current occupants of Bing’s and convert that building to a Sheriff’s Substation for the Hammock district. Great location for the Marine Unit too…
Thank you Joyce , Shari, Dennis Clark, Engineer Mr Todd Swinderman and all the volunteers and donors to save our beloved Park from becoming a commercial venue with full alcoholic’s license force funded by taxpayers violating the preservation of our public acquired park. See you Monday in green.
William Moya says
I believe that Nancy Pelosi is behind this project, investigate, delay, obfuscate.
Why now a trust-worthy inspection? Why not use the same scammers that did the old hospital, the new operation center built there and the Sears building. After all they’re part of the click the scams our tax dollars.
Thank you Joy & HCA! Universal Engineering Services need to be banned from doing business in Flagler- they have costs taxpayers already millions with their “services” benefiting only certain “public” officials, the county attorney, select realtors, and (if not stopped) an “independent” BBQ restaurant with political ties.
Concerned Citizen says
That’s one of the best ideas yet. It’s an ideal situation for the SO. Right down the street from Station 41. If the Marine unit is needed it has easy access to launch.
Get Captains out of there and stop showing favoritism. if that’s County property then put it to County use.
Hopefully they will not use the same inspection Company that has been “inspecting “ the sheriff properties Definitely sounds like pockets have been lined …….. That restaurant was filthy and the food mediocre at best .
Jane Gentile-Youd says
The Hammock proposal is an undeserved gift from God… In reality Captains is in Default of the freebee lease: it has 2 current state violations which qualify it being shut down with 30 days legal notice:. Unsafe meat storage temperature and 30 seats more than allowed causing septic system overload.- all reported in finite detail by Flagler Live.com
County can’t produce mandatory $1million liability policy ( despite multiple public record requests since May 6, 2019) current Captains ease mandates they cover county as named insured because it doesn’t exist. Another blatant violation. Now they want full liquor license to enable boaters to speed away without effort and kill someone on the intercoastal? Any commissioner who votes for a new building be assured that I will file alleged malfeasance, misfeasance, charges with the Attorney General and Governor’s office.
To hell with the Sheriff’s lack of proper headquarters – to hell with the about to fail wastewater tank at Plantation Bay – to hell with the mold infested real estate investments.
It’s all about nothing other than campaign contributions, corruption, stupidity , negligence, and greed
Time to investigate e-mails back to 2011 – Coffey Hadeed McLaughlin, Hansen – for all issues and way past the time to begin criminal investigations in unprofessional opinion and that of the little birdie who keeps me posted.
Hire some kids off from school to sell hot dogs, burgers and sell bait at our park for the summer – do something worthwhile or count your blessings and go with the undeserving Hamock offer.
Joy is right. You must hire an outside consulate to verify the concerns of this structure. The county can not rely on Universal Engineering Services . They have personally cost our taxpayers millions of dollars.
“Cameron said that staff had used a fiber optic camera to give him a view under the floor. “They told me the sills and joists had gone soft because of mold and fungus,” he said of county staff.”
Knowing this they still allow an establishment serving food to the public to remain open?
A Dedicated American says
It looks like we have an extension of Craig Coffey with our new County Administrator Jerry Cameron. He states the building is irreparable and he is uncertain if it will last for 30 months. Now tell me, how can he honestly say that with out getting an honest independent inspection. And Al Hadeed saying the county could be exposed to potential liability. Where was Al Hadeed when the leases were actually written by Craig Coffey and where was Al Hadeed to overlook the shoddy lease that gave Michael Goodman a lease starting at $450.
per month and now up to $600.00 per month. If it is passed on Monday the rent will go to $1000.00 per month. And the county has a law suit against them (don’t forget the tax payers foot the bills) that Al Hadeed could not represent the county. The county had to seek outside council. Al Hadeed collects a hefty salary a year, he has an assistant attorney working with him and a secretary. Commissioner Sullivan was one of the three commissioners that voted yes in November and never read any of the leases. Commissioner Hansen and ex-commissioner Nate McLaughlin were all recipients of campaign contributions. All part of the good ole boys club with Coffey and Hadeed. How can the county allow a for profit business in a county park. Where is the FDEP on this? All of Coffey’s financial purchases, passed by the county commissioners should be investigated along with Al Hadeed. We tax payers are paying heavily in our taxes without representation.
This is an obvious fleecing of the Flagler county taxpayers specially of the Palm Coast taxpayers that have to fund the county with double the ad-valorem taxes of what we pay to our city government when county the most provides us with 20 to 30 % of our services only, the rest 70 to 80% is provided by city government, These county has been wasting our hard earned taxes like drunken sailors funding shames like Cptain’s since Palm Coast was founded by ITT. Enough is enough.
David Sullivan says
Just to set the record straight I never received any contributions from the owners of Captains Barbecue.
Careful who you accuse of any wrongdoing, freedom of speech is one thing but this right to express ourselves also has its consequences.
Dave Sullivan BOCC
Thank you Joy, great points in your article.
In fact your recommendation should be the new norm for projects affecting multiple stakeholders. Sadly, the County has earned this distrust/doubt ….bad decisions have cost the taxpayers significant money.
Trustworthy , independent firms need to render opinions pertaining to engineering, water and usage, traffic impacts , parking for all major FC projects.
“Can someone explain to me why we still use Universal Engineering Services to inspect buildings?”
Excellent question. Let’s get an answer…..
Flying bird says
Can any body tell me ? Has a criminal investigation ever been discussed or searched into the purchase of all these dirty buildings , plantation , Bings , princess estate . Etc . Just asking not accusing someone has been very incompetent or very craftie .
Universal Engineering Services , give me a break, that’s the same group that said the Sears building was “OK”. Find a new building inspector.