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,