A divided Flagler Beach City Commission voted 3-2 to raise the cost of all city-provided utilities–water, sewer and garbage–by 8.5 percent, to match inflation, and the stormwater fee by 42 percent.
Flagler Beach City Commission
Flagler Beach City Manager William Whitson got hit with yet another storm Thursday evening, this time from waves of witheringly critical residents, business owners and some members of his own commission who spoke of low morale, poor communications, lack of urgency on some projects, a “toxic work environment” and an instance of Whitson hanging up on a resident who was reporting a flooding issue. The criticism inevitably spread to commissioners by association.
Almost three years after Flagler County sought property owners’ permission to start a dune rebuilding project on 2.6 miles of beach in Flagler Beach, and despite more recent ravages to the shore, one property owner is still holding out, but County Attorney Al Hadeed stresses that her permission will be secured by December 31 and the Corps project will be on by June.
John Tyler, the Florida Department of Transportation’s District 5 secretary, told a special meeting of the Flagler Beach City Commission this evening that simply rebuilding A1A until the next storm won’t achieve a different result: it’ll be demolished again. DOT is creating a task force to devise a more durable solution, with all options on the table, including sea walls and moving A1A.
At least five, possibly six, candidates are running for the March 7 Flagler Beach City Commission election, including two incumbents. The number of candidates may be a reflection of unsettled times in Flagler Beach, with recent embarrassments still fresh and mounting challenges ahead.
Workers have been dumping new white sand at the rate of 590 cubic yards a day to buttress the dunes and protect State Road A1A from the Flagler Beach city limit down into Ormond By the Sea. Yet Flagler Beach itself, including the area at the heart of the city that has eroded even more since Hurricane Ian, remains critically defenseless.
Florida Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie told a group of Flagler County and Flagler Beach officials that they’ll need to lobby their state representatives for additional money if they hope to have all the funds necessary for an 800-foot concrete replacement pier.
With repair costs pegged at $2 million over 14 months and dangerous collapses possible, the Flagler Beach City Commission agreed to condemn the rickety pier and wall it off, accelerating a demolition schedule in preparation for the construction of a $15 to $18 million, 800-foot concrete pier that could be completed in late 2025.
The city’s message was: Between city preparedness, the mobilization of volunteers, the city’s (and the county’s) continuing luck and ongoing planning for recovery, Flagler Beach made it through with limited damage but to its pier and beaches, which are unrecognizable. Some residents were a bit less cheery.
Even under the parts of the pier that remain, piles have disappeared, bracing has been severely damaged, and hardware even on parts of the pier closer to the shore–parts not made of stainless steel–has failed. The entire structure is severely damaged to the point that further collapses of sections of the pier during mildly heavy seas would not be surprising.