What was expected to be a routine, discussion about the renaming of a couple of public landmarks for individuals who left their mark on the city turned oddly contentious at the Palm Coast City Council on Tuesday, with Mayor David Alfin–usually the conciliator–leading the charge, and former Mayor Jon Netts’s memory paying the price.
James Hirst, the city’s parks and recreation director, was giving a brief presentation on the renaming of a trail near Palm Harbor Parkway in honor of Al Krier. Krier had been an avid walker there, and a leader of the Cimmaron Drive community’s longstanding efforts to improve pedestrian safety along the road that branches off of Palm Harbor Parkway.
City Council member Theresa Pontieri is proposing to name the trail after Krier. She filed the required paperwork. It went through the city’s Beautification Committee, which recommended approval to the council. The council is fully receptive.
The renaming of public landmarks is not frequent, but a city policy specifies how it’s done, and what landmarks are eligible. City Hall and fire stations are not. But trails, certain buildings and sports facilities are. Pines Lake Trail was renamed the Shirley Chisolm Trail, the Historical Society Museum was renamed the Jim Canfield Museum, ballfields were named for the late Council and Commission member Frank Meeker, for Doug Berryhill, a Palm Coast Little League volunteer, and of course for Frieda Zamba, the surfing champion.
Almost in passing Hirst mentioned that the city spoke with Netts family members about renaming a landmark for the late mayor. “It was kind of determined that the community center would be a prime location,” Hirst said. A nominating form has not been turned in.
Alfin’s reaction was swift.
“I have a disagreement with that now that staff has gone and met with the family,” he said. “So I’m going to have to have another conversation with the city manager about that. I think that’s perhaps a cart before the horse.”
Alfin wanted to know whether the Netts family was offered options, or whether the family itself proposed the renaming of the Community Center. The city had offered the marina as a possibility, Hirst said (Netts was a boater and lived on the water in the F Section, where his wife, Priscilla, still lives). The Community Center was the second option. It was Priscilla Netts’s “preference to have the community center,” Jason DeLorenzo, the city’s chief of staff said.
“So you’ve overridden the policy of coming to city council in this particular case?” Alfin, who seemed particularly irked, said.
“No, sir. No,” DeLorenzo said. “We don’t have a nominating form so nothing is in motion yet.”
“You’ve already spoken to the family. That’s my issue here,” the current mayor said.
“The reason why we reached out to the family is because it’s an adopted city council priority. So staff was doing its work as part of that priority,” DeLorenzo said, a remark pointedly protective of his staff.
But Council member Ed Danko also had reservations. “I don’t mind naming trails, parks pickleball courts, but when we get into buildings, facilities, that’s really a big community sort of involvement issue for me,” Danko said. “It should go on the ballot at the end of the day. I mean, we could approve putting it on a ballot but this is the entire community. It’s not just us, renaming a building. And for me, a building, it’s a big deal because we’re going to live with that forever. And so I would really think that we need to re examine this process when we get to facilities.”
He referred to the naming of a bridge in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where Danko lived previously. According to his version of the story, “the county commissioners had a buddy they wanted to name the bridge after and the residents were just totally opposed to changing the name of that bridge. And I mean they came out in droves. And yet, five people went ahead and said, We don’t care what you think we’re just going to do it. Had they put it on the ballot, that bridge would have never changed names.”
The naming of the new bridge after Marc Basnight, a former state senator, had drawn considerable public engagement, including objections, a Facebook page in protest, and spoken objections at meetings, according to press reports. But the Dare County Commission had also created a somewhat tendentious online forum to solicit public input, then voted 3-2 to change the name, though the decision wasn’t the commission’s to make, but that of the state Board of Transportation. The renaming, by the board’s rules, required unanimous local support, not a 3-2 vote. Despite that, the board voted to rename the bridge after the senator in March 2019, angering many year-round residents of the island. (Basnight died the next year.)
“Even if it was the Danko City Hall, I would still want it on the ballot,” Danko said, “because I really think that it’s a lot bigger than the other things we were talking about.”
Alfin isn’t big on a ballot initiative, finding it cumbersome and possibly expensive. The beautification committee serves that advisory purpose, he said, representing the public. Alternately, the public could weigh in with a survey. He didn’t say so, but perhaps he had in mind the way the Sheriff’s Office holds informal, social media surveys when naming its K9s.
City Attorney Neysa Borkert attempted to help the discussion along by suggesting that larger, “core” buildings in the same category as fire stations and City Hall are not necessarily part of the naming process. But the policy, DeLorenzo said, specifies what is and isn’t eligible: the Community Center would be.
“I just don’t think that changing an entire policy is appropriate at this point,” Pontieri said. “We’re not attempting to rename City Hall. I think that we are probably making it more difficult and actually kind of shedding a negative light on something that should be positive.”
Pontieri suggested waiting for the nominating form, evaluating it through the Beautification Committee then through the council, and let both panels be residents’ voices. Alfin agreed and left it at that. But he’d also sent a signal to the Netts family, which now may be loath to be associated with a proposal that may have either been irreparably tainted.naming-public-facilities
seems a small group of people, are in control of a vast amount of residents
hey gee says
I escaped jersey 30 years ago for beautiful low tax lake county
The kids live in Volusia
I like Flagler but it reminds me of jersey the way they waste money and time on junk like this
I’m afraid residents will be getting 10/15% tax increases yearly to sustain these elected officials in the custom they believe they’re entitled to
Jon Netts was a legend in his own time.
Not only did he serve as mayor but on the City Council and time and again called upon to serve here in Palm Coast. He deserves all the love and recognition we can give him.
Fill out the request form, present it to the Beautification committee and Council and vote yes to make it happen. A great honor for Jon and his family.
Tina olive says
Where or how do you get a request form??????
Denise Calderwood says
How ironic this naming thing is…..a few years back when John Netts was the Mayor a group of senior citizens attempted to buy the now Chanel Side Restaurant for $900,000 to make it a dedicated Senior Recreational facility….we had the
Support of FIND- the Florida Inland Navigational District on board and they had available grant money and John was a Board Member. John was a former Commodore of the yacht club which oversaw the building which was built to serve as a yacht club…we thought naming the building after him would have been a win/win for everyone but the idea only drew rebuke and see where we are now naming a gem of a building after him without going through the established process. Jason Wake
Up…. rules apply to you and your staff too…..sometimes I don’t think you realize that since you listen to closely to what former Mayor Holland days or asks you to do! I guess naming the community center after John would be better than naming it after Milissa, his mentee mayor but I guess we would eventually name the private/public tennis center after her or maybe just add her name to Holland park since both of them have costs us millions of wasteful dollars and we still don’t have a senior center- even after several former city councilors supported one- especially Counselor Mary DeStefamo….
Please residents wake up before our city gets any worse……
Beach Guy says
I would say that he is not worthy of any building or park being named after him, for he really rubbed me the wrong way in my one and only dealing with him. I was working for a local community bank when he was running for office, and he had called in to see about renting out the meat smoker we used for local events. When I told him that we weren’t allowed to rent it out for political or religious purposes, he got somewhat belligerent on the phone and started throwing his weight around a bit. “You mean I can’t use it to cook hot dogs in my own damn backyard?” Nope, sorry…not allowed, for you’re running for office and the bank can’t support that. I don’t care who you are. I never voted for that guy because of that. Trying to throw his name around like “do you know who I am?” Nope, don’t care…and never will.
Why do we have to name after someone?? The Palm Coast Community Center is very discriptive!
Jon Netts was a great man that gave his all for this city. David Alfin has also made a mark on this city. I suggest we build some public restrooms on the Linear Trail and name them after the mayor. Hang signs above the toilets reminding the users to flush after they’re Alfin.
They should name it the white elephant instead because the town center was one of his bad ideas !!!
Yes, it sure was. When I first they were putting in a town center I was excited thinking it was going to look like a town and all we got was another strip mall. It sure doesn’t represent any town I have ever seen.
Mayor Netts did so much for the City of Palm Coast and naming things after him is well deserved. As far as Alfin he has does nothing for the city and will never deserve anything named after him. He doesn’t listen to the taxpayers he does whatever he wants.
@Close at hand
This is a hoot — hearing from Lady Astor’s horse griping about The Commodore’s Folly.
Only in Florida.
Celia Pugliese says
Jon Netts does not deserve this naming. Last time he run for office was not elected and that proves my point! Here we have DeLorenzo pressured by the city so called steak holders (gang of about 17 or 20) trying to run the show again by passing council naming our costly community center for one of their former buddies and we oppose it.
Netts consistently ignored residents pleads like: he build his city hall to his grandeur in spite the residents NO in the costly Referendum voted. He wasted our hard earned taxes in the countless costly meetings that ended up in bust for the planned ocean water desalination plant when (as I knew) the 750 million cost at last was unaffordable. He put the cart before the horse finding about the cost after all the countless meetings and money wasted.
Was during the Netts/DeLorenzo administration that was allowed to transfer an over 5000 vehicles a day traffic with the closure of Forest Grove and fatally redirected to Florida Park Drive and other residential roads, increasing their already 5400 vehicles a day in Florida Park Drive with added speeders and semis. For worst they made an obvious turn very visible into FPD from Palm Harbor Parkway traffic into FPD. Netts consistently ignored the growing blight and increased traffic and speeders in Florida Park Drive thou he drove it daily to his home in the F section, he just didn’t care That was the reason I moved away from it 20 years ago as there was no request that myself or the residents like Steven Carr will present to him in the council meetings that Netts will not ignore!
Netts then recently arrived from NJ and elected councilman in early 2000s but being absent to that meeting, when was presented his request of approval to run a boat delivery etc, business from his F section home seawall. Attending the meeting I opposed that approval and asked who was soliciting such a first ever permit requested as will entail fuel storage on site, boat engine noise early or late night from commercial activities plus eroding additional commercial traffic to affect our seawalls, docks boats houses and vessels anchored to them in canals built originally for drainage and or residents access to ICU.. After I asked who was the applicant and replied by staff that the permit was approved by the county as we were just recently incorporated, then and only then mayor and council asked the staff to disclose the recipient. Staff said was (absent) councilman Netts, to the shock of the attending public. Given other residents opposition the permit was denied. The following year I saw Mr. Netts in the Bing Landings Park during a Coast Guard Auxiliary safety awareness event seating in his table propping Boat USA towing Ins. He saw me and said: _Hi Celia, that first proposal was done away you know? Now I am doing this out of the Marina (Boat USA)-. I replied great! Wish you much success!. Unfortunately the saltwater front canal residents occasionally will have to endure Boat USA towing a disable vessel too fast creating wakes we know damage our seawalls, docks, boat houses and vessels anchored to them with total disregard for the minimum wake rule inside saltwater canals past west of Marina event pictures were taken and posted then.
Instead of this proposal by DeLorenzo and Co. I asked for the past administrations of Netts. Holland and Alfin in my 3 minutes council meetings to name Linear Park after Councilman Jerry Full as in the late 90’s and early 20′ he fought relentless to save our grandfathering use of our Intracoastal water front walkway that we enjoy today from the Harborside to the Water Front Park starting in Clubhouse Drive. I met Councilman Mr. Full before city incorporated handing flyers to us all by the intracoastal walkway by Harborside, alerting us the buyers of the adjacent parcels wanted to close our grandfathering public walkway access. We needed to attend then county commissioners meeting (as city didn’t incorporate yet) and oppose it. We did, oppose the closing and we won so you all can enjoy it today. If not for Jerry alerting us…would be gone. Jerry also was instrumental in the city keeping our Long Creek Park Nature Preserve off Palm Harbor Parkway today: https://www.palmcoastgov.com/parks/long-creek.
So just lest give credit were credit is due and not give in to “stake holders” propped DeLorenzo’s demands.
Our Palm Coast Historical society also battling to keep intact our Fire Station 22 for our Palm Coast Museum, is backing my request of 20 years to name Linear Park in honor of our naturalist preservation advocate Councilman Jerry Full: https://flaglerlive.com/53046/jerry-full-obituary/ Lets give credit only when credit due! Jerry was one of us kayaking that Long Creek Preserve and cruising our waters admiring nature or exercising with his four legged companion Boxer in his daily walks in Linear Park that today should bare his name!
These local politicians are full of themselves. Instead of worrying about naming buildings. Concentrate what’s best for the city and its residents, if such a thing is possible
For Real says
Well said and I agree.
All mayors do some things deserving recognition, but the ones that are outstanding, are true leaders, are those that listen to all the people and does what it takes to protect all. When special interests drive city governmental officials then all citizens lose, even though most will not actually feel direct harm and may not even recognized they have been harmed till years later (what does traffic look like today). During Jon Netts’ term FL PK DR had turn lanes from Palm Coast Parkway and Palm Harbor Parkway installed to funnel traffic from those two parkways onto and through residential FL PK DR. When he chose not to use ITT’s design, already in place, of exchanging traffic between the two parkways at the parkway’s intersection it devastated some residential neighborhoods in the “C” & “F” Sections, destroying their Quality of Life & Safety & harmed some resident’s health. When residents objected, he did not listen, as city leaders are not listening today. He set a precedent, still in use today, don’t listen to the residents and that the city will not protect residential neighborhoods from excessive traffic, while other cities in Florida use approved Traffic Calming Methods to protect their residential neighborhoods. Harmful precedents put in place by previous administrations are hard to remove, especial if current administrations find them useful to drive their agenda at the expense of residents; we are seeing that now. See the harm this is causing some residential neighborhoods: https://envhealthcenters.usc.edu/infographics/infographic-living-near-busy-roads-or-traffic-pollutionhttps://envhealthcenters.usc.edu/infographics/infographic-living-near-busy-roads-or-traffic-pollution
How does renaming the community center improve our quality of life? How about looking into the rate increases at FPL and PC Utility bills-like the trash increase for LESS service….getting L and D in one of the hospitals, pediatric ER services, getting industry along rte 1 that supports a living wage instead of all the new homes, fixing swales, increasing neighborhood lighting and the list goes on. But no, our city reps fight over renaming buildings for dead people. SMH
You are right on, JustBeNice! What a waste of costly labor hours of those administrators at six figure pay from our hard earned taxes, always sweet talking on the back with developers lawyers while awful rezoning’s are on the table, versus the residents opposition or now trying to give name credit when not deserved. Council and mayor will serve us better opposing our Community Center name change!