The Flagler County school district is proposing a plan that would reinvent the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club either as a hybrid or as a site exclusively used for school purposes. The school board is embracing the hybrid model and seeing the plan as a breakthrough, opening the way to end a prolonged dilemma for the district.
The proposal would move several existing programs–alternative education, education of the disabled, virtual education–to the grounds of the club. That would free up significant space in schools, including nine classrooms at Matanzas High and three at Indian Trails Middle School, where school board members want student spaces used by day-to-day students.
The plan would better use the Belle Terre Swim and Racket Club’s space and acreage at a time when the club has been looking for a purpose more viable than as a break-even–or money-losing–proposition as a fitness center.
The reinvention would not necessarily affect the swimming pool and the gym, but the four tennis courts, which need a $50,000 makeover, are not likely to survive. That space would more likely be used to locate portable classrooms.
“The pool and the gym can be segregated, so that it doesn’t affect or impact the other projects that we are proposing around the perimeter of the pool and the gym,” Paul Peacock, the assistant superintendent in charge of said. “There are multiple options.” Both the district’s swim teams–at Flagler Palm Coast High School and Matanzas High School–use the pool, as do other independent programs.
Peacock said the plan is at the mercy of board members’ wishes. “Dave Freeman and I love to be given orders because we love to follow orders,” Peacock said, referring to his colleague, the director of facilities.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the board members were ecstatic. “It gives us the options we have been asking for from the start,” Board member Cheryl Massaro said, stressing that the plan still enables the club parts of the facility to survive in one form or another. “I just like the concept.”
“I love the concept. I think it’s a win win for the community, for the school district, it frees up seats,” Board member Colleen Conklin said, also citing its financial viability.
The programs that would be shifted to the site would be the Trail program, iFlagler, Rise-Up and Step-Up, as well as the Youth Center.
The gym could be used as the Youth Center, currently on the campus of Flagler Palm Coast High School. The county, which contributes $25,000 a year toward the Youth Center, is interested in having some services for adults at the Youth Center, which the district is considering (such as computer-skill classes, tax-return help and other such uses).
The district’s iFlagler could also be located there, enabling 18 teachers to work out of there. Currently, iFlagler is at Matanzas High School, using up 10 classrooms, taking up 9,000 square feet. That move would free up 250 student stations at Matanzas, which is slated for an expansion in a few years.
Conklin thought it’s “an awful lot of money” to spend on a virtual school system that requires teachers to work at an office rather than at home, freeing up space. But Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt said there are “mixed models” across the state where offices used for virtual schooling double up as testing sites or meeting sites between teachers and students. The option is open though to move in the direction of enabling teachers to work off site.
The reinvention at Belle Terre would not be cheap. The first phase would cost over half a million dollars, two subsequent phases would cost $2.5 million. Most of those costs are the up-front costs of buying portables that would create new space at the club’s grounds. But Board Chairman Trevor Tucker said the cost would be minimal compared to the cost of having to build an expansion at Matanzas High School to accommodate more students there–an expansion that the move of the Step-Up program to Belle Terre could make unnecessary.
There are 66 student stations at Indian Trails in the Trail program alone. Each new portable at the Belle Terre club would provide 860 square feet, three of which would provide 2,592 square feet, about the space the Trails program is taking up at Indian Trails Middle School. The 4,500-square foot gym could also be modified for the Trails program rather than the Youth Center.
Any of the proposals can be combined with one permutation or an other, Peacock said. “There’s really just a lot of different options, a couple of options could benefit us in moving forward in getting ready to move the 6th grade back into middle schools,” Peacock said.
The proposal in essence resolves one of the district’s thorniest dilemmas–how to make better use of the Belle Terre club without eliminating an amenity that, as of today, provides generates income from 229 annual memberships (paying $225 each), 37 monthly memberships, and from three health care reimbursement programs with over 600 participants who use the facility on a more per-day basis.
But the board didn’t make a decision. It directed Peacock and Freeman to gauge the public response to the plan.
“This could be a multi-phased plan over the course of several years,” Dave Freeman, the district’s
I guess I’m wondering why more room is needed at the Matanzas high school
Buddy Taylor is at 112 percent capacity, Indian Trails at 84 percent. Flagler Palm Coast High School is at 110 percent capacity, while Matanzas is at 80 percent.
They are in the process of rezoning, which will send more kids from FPC to MHS soon.
Charlie Ericksen Jr says
Let’s not forget, that presently , the location has an agreement with ADVENT HEALTH, to be a location that it’s MEDICARE members can use the services offered. Exercise, pool, etc…I see no mention , of this outside contract…
Celia M Pugliese says
You got that right Charlie. Promises made should be promises kept also to Advent Health. Spring, Winter and Fall people crowd our ball courts and we can’t afford to loose the one of the only two public pools in the city with our FL hot scorching summers. The Belle Terre Swim and Racket Club was built by ITT with physical fitness and health preserving activities for it residents that bought their homes were that ITT amenity was provided. Why for haven sake the school board is going to do away with the tennis courts and replace with school portables? That at the same time will increase traffic, noise and emissions pollution for the adjacent residents. FCSB members please just THINK. Do any of you live in the vicinity of the BTS&R Club..?
Give the whole kit and kabooble to the kids and build a senior center dedicated soley for the 55+ group…..but only if this new center will have some programs, social or educational, funded by grants or volunteers, a gymn, and a swimming/therapy pool. I’ve visited such a center before and it was always filled with folks enjoying lectures, informative talks by accountants, health professionals, floral arrangers, dieticians and gardeners….the list goes on and on. It hosted a monthly birthday celebration for all combined whose birthday fell in that month, themed parties and dances, visiting churches and youth groups provided musical programs and other entertainment, morning group walks and exercise classes were offered. Since the Meals on Wheels also operated out of this center, there was a full kitchen and seniors and their guests could lunch in the dining room if they so wished. The meals were reasonably priced and non-senior guests could eat for a still reasonable but higher cost. The center operated quite well on grants, gifts, donations from various groups, and with the support of the community. A monthly “Senior Spirit” newspaper with Center events, articles by seniors, advance menu and event schedule for the month, was published by the local town newspaper both on-line and on paper.
IT CAN BE DONE. This would (in my opinion) be a much better option so the youth could have all of the Swim Club and there would be no hassle over who is to use the classrooms, pool, or gymn on what day at what time.
That is a great idea which should come out of County or City funds. Not out of or run by the school district.
Elizabeth troxell says
We live behind the circle by belle terre. The noise now from belle terre is annoying at times. The lights from cars, car horns that get stuck, the children yelling, D.J. Playing at pool parties. People sneaking in after hours. Police chasing suspects robbing belle terre. Now you want to bring busses, 250 students from just one program. Daily to portable classrooms. Plus continue with school swim programs and the membership from belle terre now. A lot of this activity will be outside. The sound seems to travel quite far. We can hear people just talking in the circle. I am going to just guess. None of your school members live any where near here. I am a taxpayer also. Does anyone care about peace and quiet in my neighborhood. You think this makes sense.. portable classrooms, instead of permanent. Do you expect population to go down in palm coast. What about all the extra traffic leading up to belle terre. I see the parents waiting in line by buddy taylor. The ruts left in people’s lawns from the ones to impatient to stay on the roads. The kids leaving garbage on people’s lawns. I asked one of your members to consider privacy fencing to help deflect some of the noise and keep kids from going down the easement. I was told they would look into it if they didn’t sell the property outright. I know your trying to solve problems. You have your plate full with anti maskers. I am just asking for you to look into the neighborhood your planning on putting more noise and burden onto. Thank you Elizabeth
Mary Kay Hayward says
Elizabeth, I care about peace and quiet in your neighborhood. What you say sounds like words of wisdom to me. You have the right to DEMAND a Traffic Impact Analysis be done as part of any planning that will inevitably increase traffic volume and noise. Get your neighbors together. Oh, and for those who will say “you bought next to a public pool facility/school, what did you expect, peace and quiet?”…ignore them. Persevere to save your neighborhood. With all of the development going on in the name of financial gain in our city, I can’t believe there is no land available for another permanent campus to educate our youth instead of a “quicker fix” with no regard to existing citizens’ welfare. There surely must be a compromise somewhere.
Celia M Pugliese says
Plea to the FCSB, FCBOCC and City Mayor Alfin and Council:
Still using school portables in hurricane prone county? Where is the common sense? Is the FCSB trying to spread the growth into the Belle Terre Swim Club area? What about appropriately assess developers with very much needed impact fees to fund the more school buildings other than installing more portables..? Shame on us I never seeing portables in schools until I arrived in Palm Coast in 1991…and shocked me as I arrived around the time of a killer hurricane in Miami.
Elizabeth above is correct. The Belle Terre swim club was not originally intended to have students classes portables on site. Was just that a Swim, Tennis and Physical Fitness Gym Club. Why local government changes it all for worst to just accommodate developers greedy demands?
Traffic and noise, pollution will intensify imagine that for surrounding existing homes! Don’t we have enough with FPD , Cimmaron and other residential streets neighbors enduring overwhelming traffic.? Why instead the county that is investing 23 million or more when done in the new Sheriff administration, does not collaborate along with city and school instead to preserve the Belle Terre Swim and Racket Club for the residents taxpayers and students use, like the Synchro Belle Aquatic Ballet Girls? Affordable swim, racket and gym activities to preserve the health of the local residents is what ITT envisioned when it sold us our homes not a 23 million sheriff luxury administration yet, that instead can wait for the county size we are. So county officials instead of coming up with more debt in our hard earned ad valorem taxes to fund castles to themselves, what about instead contribute to the much less costly funding of our original activities in contributing to the school and city of Palm Coast to preserve the Belle Terre Swim and Racket Club as was created by ITT? Isn’t enough that the FCBOCC stripped Palmcoasters of our ocean front pool and Sun Ports affordable membership club installations located in the Hammock back in the mid nineties after ITT left us, trading those several blocks within the 33 acres ocean from prime land we owned by the Jungle Hut to Lowe-Bobby Ginn for “wetlands” in Malacompra and 1.7 million check, so Ginn could build the current Hammock Golf Course on it and leave a public access to the beach. Imaging what a great deal for Palmcoasters right? Looks like since then county has not changed much regarding the intended ending of clubs that provide affordable physical fitness and good health preservation to their residents original home buyers sold with their homes by ITT. The Matanzas Golf Course that Netts and the city council should have bought on foreclosure for $300,000 in the late 2000 is another current nightmare for the adjacent residents while its parcels fatten the pockets of the developer selling “just parcels of it” for many millions while the existing residents endure the side effects. Please Mr. Tucker , Ms Conklin and the rest of the school Board including attorney Gavin, please lobby the county and city for funds to continue operating the Belle Terre Swim and Racket Club as was originally sold to its affected members and their student children and scrub any other unbecoming use proposal. City as shown under a long relentless pressure from its affected residents including the great help of attorney Spain engaged by Protect Palm Coast residents group spearheaded by Lou Vitale materialized so far, the preservation of our PHGC as is and the finally decided, management of the Palm Harbor Golf Course is a success today in city hands. Then why not use that management excellence for the Belle Terre installations as well. That pool and tennis court “is affordably utilize by residents and students”…do not do away with the tennis courts please because will be the beginning of the end of the BTR&S Club! In our hot summers we need one more affordable public pool for our residents and their children and also relatives when visiting as most do not have a house pool. My daughter a triathlete uses it while occasionally visiting paying the guest fee gladly, when not invited by friends to the heated YMCA in Ormond. She witness the heavy usage by residents of the pool as needed and this is the reason of my post, “the residents quality of life to be preserved”!