The Help Save Flagler Beach GoFundMe page is here.
Flagler Beach residents are not giving up.
In a display of ingenuity that appears to have no precedent, two Flagler Beach residents–Carla Cline and Craig Atack–devised a crowdfunding call to quickly raise $40,000 and parcel the money out among 11 property owners who have so far refused to sign easements. The easements would allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to renourish the beach by building new dunes, a project 15 years in the works.
The property owners’ refusal to sign is jeopardizing the viability of the project.
Less than a week before the Corps may decide whether to kill the project, Cline hopes the money will entice the property owners to sign and save the renourishment plan. The Flagler Beach City Commission, the County Commission, many property and business owners and residents of Flagler Beach see new dunes as vital to saving the beach itself, to prolong the life of State Road A1A against rising seas and intensifying storms and preserve the artery fueling the city’s tourism economy.
The fund-raising call went out late Wednesday night but wasn’t disseminated on social media until Thursday morning. In an astounding show of support from more than 300 donors, they raised $40,000 in 40 hours, quickly exceeding their $40,000 goal by early afternoon today. Contributions have poured in from the city, from the county and beyond as many people who used to live in Flagler Beach or who vacation there have been contributing.
Here’s another remarkable fact, as humbling as it should be to politicians as it is reflective of the importance of the beach to the fund-raising’s grassroots advocates: the amount, raised in less than 48 hours, is $10,000 more than all the cash donations combined to all 11 candidates running for two Palm Coast City Council seats and the mayor’s seat in the Aug. 18 election, and was generated from more than twice as many contributors than all 11 political candidates candidates have garnered, though some of those candidates have been at it for a year in a city with 18 times the population of Flagler Beach.
Whether the effort is ultimately successful or not, it illustrates an enormous commitment to it by Flagler Beach and may help convince the Corps to keep the project alive, says Al Hadeed, the county attorney who’s led the easement campaign all year. He’s staying out of the crowdfunding effort entirely, since it’s a private initiative, but says “this is warming my heart.”
Hadeed says he “absolutely” applauds the initiative because “one of our desires was to educate the owners and the broader population and stakeholders. The success of the project really does depend on broad-based community support, broad-based community consensus. Not just the initiation of the mechanics of putting together a project and the funding.” He said illustrating that community support “in my view is incredibly important to the success of the project.”
Atack, an attorney, and Cline, who runs flaglersurf.com and has embraced or led numerous community initiatives over the years, both have deep roots in Flagler Beach.
“Craig Atack and I were just texting back and forth several weeks ago,” Cline said. “It was essentially his idea in the sense that maybe we should start a GoFundMe and pay these clowns, was his word, and I dismissed it because I was so angry to have to pay people for being jerks. But then I thought oh, my gosh, this could work. We could raise the money, pay these people and be done with it.”
“We grew up here, we care about the place, we were just really upset about the whole thing and brainstorming,” Atack said this morning. He recalled how, years ago, the possibility that High Tides at Snack Jack restaurant would not reopen after its foundations were severely damaged by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004. The five-month closure provoked a national email campaign, with the restaurant posting the emails on its website, which helped keep the restaurant in business, as its owners had hoped all along. It’s still there. “I thought the same sort of effort could happen,” Atack said of the crowdfunding effort. “You’d hope being part of the community would be a reward in itself, but if people need a different kind of reward to take to the bank, then–”
Dennis Bayer, the Flagler Beach attorney whose office overlooks a segment of the beach in the Corps project, and himself a long-time advocate for environmental concerns, set up an escrow account for the funds, ensuring strict regulation and accountability. He said he’s handled land sales over the past few years of parcels similar to the ones in question, with prices ranging between $4,000 and $6,000.
The offer to be tendered to the hold-outs: about $4,000 each, in exchange for nothing more than to sign easements, not deeds.
It’s a lot to pay for a signature. But those supporting the initiative see too much at stake and too much to lose, starting with millions of dollars to repair the beach and possibly extending to a lost beach in coming years, with coming storms, if nothing is done.
The $25.5 project to build ample and storm-resistant dunes along 2.6 miles of beach on the south side of Flagler Beach is paid for, all with state and federal dollars. The money is in the bank. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is poised to bid out the contract. The dune-rebuilding project could be done by late this year or early next year. County government has managed the administrative effort, securing 128 easements from owners along the 2.6 miles.
But the 11 property owners accounting for 12 easements have held out again and again. (A few may currently be trending toward signing.) Without them signing the easements (or without most of them doing so), the Army Corps will not go forward. The project will die. The $25 million will be returned to the federal and state governments.
“These 11 or 12 people can literally, literally undermine this whole project,” Atack said, and it would be “dead in the water,” as County Administrator Jerry Cameron put it to the county commission a few weeks ago.
Eight of the owners are represented by John LeRoux, a Clearwater eminent domain attorney. LaRoux did not return a call today. Cline in early afternoon said on her Facebook page Bayer had been in contact with him, though in an interview earlier in the morning Bayer had said he’d not been involved with that side of the effort. “Hope springs eternal,” he said. “I would think it’s in the best interest of the community that a resolution would be reached.”
The Army Corps had set out many deadlines for the easements to be signed, allowing each to lapse in turn. But Aug. 19 may be a drop-dead deadline. That day, the Corps and the county will meet and the Corps may decide the fate of the project then.
Then again, it may see the combined recent efforts by the county, which may be close to convincing at least a few property owners to sign, and that of the crowdfunding initiative, as too much to counter with a kill.
Cline had initially resisted the idea of paying off the property owners because she worried that other property owners who have signed would be displeased, since they signed without money. And the county said all along that it would not put money toward the signature. But Cline soon found that most property owners welcomed the approach. The message she heard was, as she described it: “For the most part, no, we prefer to have our beach, it’s not about money, it’s about the safety of our homes and our beach.”
Carol and her husband Jeff Fisher are among the property owners who signed an easement, who have owned a business on A1A, who own a home there, and who have been personally involved in trying to sway other property owners to sign.
“There are about 10 of us locals that have been discussing this for weeks/months,” Carol Fisher said this morning. “Several of us signed the agreement months ago, never wanting compensation. But there might be some greedy ones that think this is unfair. Personally, to protect my beach, enhance my property, for zero dollars to me– it was a no brainer. I really think that a lot of these property owners were not informed, because they threw away their mail, and didn’t go to any of the meetings. Some, not all are just greedy.” The Fishers had thrown away the letter they’d received from LaRoux.
Doris Martin, a Flagler Beach resident, had initially been of two minds about Cline’s approach. “I spoke about this with friends,” Martin said. “Some were for the project, some against, stating to let Mother Nature take her course, and their concern about the safety of sea turtles. The tide turned when a friend directed me to the video Carla Cline posted to Facebook. Carla is a Flagler Beach staple. I believe she is real, compassionate and–even though I don’t know her personally–has Flagler Beach’s best interests in mind. She sold me. Some of my friends who were denying the cause now support it. I decided to support it too.”
Jane Mealy, who chairs the Flagler Beach City Commission, was also thrilled by the crowdfunding idea, but with caveats. “I’m not in favor of, quote, bribing these people, but I think it’s wonderful that the whole community pulled together like that,” Mealy said. “I think Carla Cline and all the rest that are behind this shows where their hearts are, the community has really put a lot of effort in this, whether it’s this fund-raiser or talking to people.”
Nevertheless, Mealy said she was “not convinced” that the property owners will go for it. She said some of the hold-outs were not necessarily grasping for dollars so much as objecting to the language in the easement document, even after the county attempted to ease their fears: some worry that the dunes will block their view, for example. It will not do so. “It would be pretty sad if it were–if it did come down to greed,” Mealy said. “I think that would be sad. I’d be happy if they signed and then we could do the project, but it would be sad if it was greed all along.”
The money has kept coming into the crowdfunding coffers at the same rapid clip as it has since Thursday morning, growing by some $2,000 even since this article’s first paragraph was first composed. The amount now stands at close to $42,000, from 330 donors.
“This community is so amazing,” Cline said. “I didn’t think it was impossible. Now, to be that quick, with so small of an amount of people, yes. There’s people on there that have donated a good amount of money that have actually signed waivers, so not only are they owners of the land but they’ve given money. That shows a lot. What really warms my heart is seeing people I haven’t seen in a really long time–like 20 years–names are coming up that are donating, like you’ve lived here, you’ve moved, it’s just amazing. People love this place.”
Sand dollar says
I wonder if the holdouts are deliberately stalling so they can get an insurance claim or FEMA money if an when a disaster hits?
No Way says
Only one of the hold outs actually have a Flagler Beach mailing address. They are just wanting a hand out where there should be none.
Lance Carroll says
I wonder if Cline Construction has a stake in this multi million dollar project? To me, it seems like a fairly comparitive and reasonable question while some property owners are being publicly labeled as “greedy” and “jerks.”
Flaglerlive, can you answer my question?
There is no connection. The Army Corps is in charge of contracting out the project, which involves very specialized contractors. The bidding process has yet to be set.
Lance Carroll says
We’ll have to standby and monitor that aspect.
E, ROBOT says
Maybe they remember that all the past many multi-million dollar schemes in the past were disruptive and disastrous. Two years and 30 million dollar boulders now in Casablanca and other renourishment schemes.
Ocean will go where it wants. Notice no flooding north and south of Flagler Beach. Notice the beach is much wider there. Notice that spending more money won’t fix it. Like it or not, live with the flooding or allow the beach to find its own level. Hint: that means rerouting A1A.
Mr. Sandman says
We will get to enjoy the ocean from a top a “sea wall” that will be left after the gray sand washes away. At least we will still be able to “enjoy” the ocean as we drive by along A1A. This project will likely end up destroying our community, but A1A and few wealthy property owners will have a nice view.
Thanks for all your efforts Carla, maybe these folks will come to their senses.
I hope all the hold-outs end up having to pay all of their “ransom” to their equally despicable Clearwater Beach lawyer.
tom dooley says
well thank god to those who really care about fb. didn’t know about this or my wife and i would have contributed to those fine fb folks. those that hired a lawyer so you can hold out for money hope you pay them now. lol. they took you as most lawyers do. kudos’s for all those you contributed!!! what a nice thing to do in this time. prove’s that they’re are more good people than bad people in this crazy world of our’s.
Trailer Bob says
No, most likely greedy lowlifes that think they found an opportunity to cash in. Pathetic if you ask me.
So thoughtful of those who helped raise the money.
There are still good people in the world.
And there are still greedy people who will try to cash in on tragedy.
Shaking my heads.
These holdouts are extortionists. They deserve nothing but washed away property.
Extortion at its finest.
Greed avarice and selfishness seems to be alive and well in FB. I wonder if 4 Grand is enough for them. Also wonder if the holdouts will be ostracized from most in Community. Seems awfully petty.
Chris S says
blackmail should never be rewarded, no matter how altruistic the motive of the ransomed might be.
Let the owners enjoy the damage to their own properties, for they will pay 10 fold for their greed and ignorance.
BTW 30% of the funds going to the ambulance chasing attorney. ?
Once again reward bad behavior. Teach your kids to hold out for money instead of doing what’s right for the good of everyone.
I’d like to day a fantastic thing these two have done to help save Flagler beach, and a1a. And on the other hand so sad that its coming down to this, that’s 11 property owners holding out for money. I say if the Army Corp of engineers pulls the plug on the project. Then the next wash out of their propties, and a1a do to a storm, should be completely payed for buy all the owner’s in question. As a citizen and taxpayer of Flagler, and the state of Florida, I’m done with us paying for your property to be fixed. There other area’s of concern in this county that need federal funds. Get your head out of the sand, stop thinking what’s in it for you, and think of other’s and their needs. Don’t give them any of the money raised, because it will never be enough, and will always want more. Give it to a charity.
What a water off money and effort. The news tried to say the dunes withstood their first test with this most recent storm that didn’t come anywhere near us and passed closest at low tide. However, we’ve watched millions of dollars of wasted sand wash away from the North dunes project over the last several months. As well as consistent damage to the new walkovers. The ocean goes where it wants to go.
White Bronco says
So, there is faith in humanity after all, who knew that proactive solutions could overcome the stalwart nonsense of a mere 11 Toxic “neighbors.” I hope they wear their burden for the rest of their days. Wow. Let the beach survive. Hell, you all wanted to be here, so.. participate in the cause, Duh!
I hope the holdouts are proud! Shameful is the least harsh word I can think of to say about these people I hope they choke on the money they receive now the city and county needS to take all that property by force, for public use. These people should be ashamed.
Willy Boy says
What are the concerns in the wording of the easements, other than blocking the view? Won’t the current plantings done in recent months grow to look like the blocked view south to Ormond Beach? A beach with a view from the road is a rare sight. Some signed for free sand, some want money to sign (so we’re told), all are at the mercy of the Corps and Mother Nature. Kudos to the concerned citizens for their efforts. They truly want that sand. Uncooperative landowners is why we have eminent domain. Soldier on beach lovers.
James M. Mejuto says
Please . . . someone explain exactly why these Flagler Beach homeowners are demanding money? Greed or something else ?
This should be a no-brainer: A1A feeds the community of Flagler Beach, and without it, there is no Flagler Beach, as we know it.
Edith Campins says
Although the public response is commendable, the actions of the holdouts are nothing more than blackmail. Why should they be paid for doing the right thing for the sake of their neighbors and the community as a whole? Shame on them if they take the money.
So these people have the opportunity to preserve their beachfront property at taxpayers’ expense, and they won’t sign? What a bunch of delta bravos. When mother nature rips away all that sand they put down, hopefully their homes and businesses will be the first to go.
some people suck says
The non-signers should be ashamed, and their names and addresses should be posted for all to see.
Gary R says
@some people suck – Their names and addresses have been posted. https://www.shoreuptheshore.org/
Of course they are. It is extortion.
cindy lewis says
You just can’t teach common sense..People do stupid things everyday. No beach no beach home! Its that simple.
Remember free choice says
Or maybe they don’t want to participate and this is AMERICA. The land of free choices!!!
It is sad that we have to give in to blackmail and reward a few ass holes who are holding out for money. Want to bet it will not be enough? Someone is going to want more.
@Hmmm, greedy slobs remind you of anyone?
The holdouts will have to answer to karma.😬
C’mon man says
Knowing people have already put 40k towards them to split will increase their greed and they will want 100k. I hope these holdout people lose their homes the next storm.
I think the holdouts should be paid and then 1099 at the end of the year for the money that they received as earned income and also have a tax assessment of $4,000 to complete the project that they were holding out on fair is fair equal is equal. If they don’t pay they forfeit their property it’s just like the game of Monopoly sometimes you got to play the to beat them. So we played a game we pay them 1099 on $4,000 of earned income and a tax assessment of $4,000. The tax assessment can go to help restore the beaches and dunes for further damage is as new storms come and go
REALITY CHECK says
What if the government just goes ahead and fills in the hold outs beach ? What are they going to do then? SUE ? For what damages, more land? What lawyer is going to take that case, on contingency? Are the greedy owners going to spend cash suing to collect $1 on principle? In all the meetings and discussions why hasn’t this been brought up?
If these individuals continue to refuse then I will be seeking an attorney to sue THEM for blocking MY beach protection and will invite others to do the same.
They actually have ASSETS to go after and A LOT to lose !
Lovely Lady says
Since this has all started I have not seen one of the holdout property owners defending their decision not to sign. Why not? Maybe if they did we would understand but their silence speaks volumes. There is no good reason for doing what they are doing.