The $420,000 reconstruction and expansion of the dumpster pad outside the Funky Pelican in Flagler Beach–$450,000, including architectural drawings–will go forward, the Flagler Beach City Commission decided last week, despite questions by two commissioners and the mayor.
The commission had voted on the expansion two weeks earlier even though all but one of the commissioners said they did not know they were voting for an expansion of the dumpster pad. The expansion will further block the view of the ocean from the boardwalk and add costs to the project, because it will require additional pylons and other structural costs. But it will also render the dumpster area safer for employees and less hazardous as a structure, which right now appears to teeter on the brink of collapse.
Commissioner Eric Cooley asked for the project to be brought back up for discussion in light of the discovery that the earlier vote had been carried out on incomplete information. But there was no subsequent vote at the end of Thursday’s long discussion to make any changes. By then a majority of the commission was convinced by Ray Barshay, owner of the Funky Pelican, and City Manager William Whitson, that the expansion was necessary and beneficial to the city, especially in the long term.
Whitson summed it up this way: “We have a tenant who is operating a successful business. They’re an asset to the city. It’s our facility. My building official and my fire marshal are telling me that there are unsafe conditions and the plans have been out there, available, discussed with previous boards, this board,” Whitson said.
“That’s not true. Do not say that they were available and discussed with the board. That is false,” Cooley said.
Cooley protested that the expansion was slipped through the commission was surprisingly little transparency. But there was little appetite among other commissioners to make that an issue. So they put stock in other, uncontroversial aspects of the project–that the city has a responsibility to its tenant, that the current pad is hazardous, that the investment is worth it–to defend their approach.
One figure weighed heavily in favor of the restaurant: the business now contributes some $140,000 a year to the city, according to Barshay, a nearly fourfold increase from when its previous owner–when the place was known as the Pier Restaurant–paid $3,000 a month in rent.
“What do you need to do to make it right and make it work?” Barshay told the commission. “And I think that’s what we developed in that plan, so that it would be large enough to work for anyone, whether we were there at some point in time or maybe we’re not the tenant out there. It’s a building that you guys should have and should be really considering having a building for the future, whatever it takes whatever it requires, because it’s a great situation out there for the city. I think we’ve been a good steward of being in there.”
Barshay at one point compared himself to Job, the biblical character assailed by every possible calamity in the world who nevertheless persevered with patience. He said the commission has been discussing repairs to the pad for years, going back to when the restaurant changed hands and barshay took Commissioner Jane Mealy on a tour, including to see the foundations of the pad.
“I understand not wanting to spend volumes of money. I get it, and I want to be sure that everybody understands–the audience, anybody in the community at large,” Barshay said. “This isn’t doing anything for us. It is making the facility safe.” He said he spent over $1 million to improve the building–$700,000 on the physical building, the rest on its interiors–when he took over a decade ago. “The city now gets probably going on $140,000 a year out of the building. Now I’m not trying to pat myself on the back but I want people to understand that it really has changed and things aren’t [what they were] eight years ago.” It was actually almost 10 years ago.
He was later more blunt: “But if you do,” Barshay said of a retreat on current expansion plans, “you’re short sighted. I’m going to tell you that you’re short sighted.”
That’s all fine, Cooley said, but it wasn’t the issue: Cooley’s dispute wasn;t with Barshay but with the city manager and the administration.
“Everybody gets that what is there is not acceptable,” Cooley said. “ I had a problem with the way this entire thing was brought forward. When we even as much as approve a simple house to be in tourists commercial, we get house plans, publications, copies of postings that were done. We have a stack sometimes this thick so we can ask the applicant: Are you okay with potentially moving next to a bar? And that’s it, the thing is done. We were given almost no information on this. We didn’t get the contract. We didn’t have the plans until the day before the meeting.”
He continued: “That’s my issue. Is how can we make an informed decision when we don’t have any information or making a half million dollar uninformed decision because we don’t have any information. So now here we are with a little bit more information because we had to dig it up. We still haven’t been given a packet on this. We had to get it because we weren’t given it. Oh yeah, we get all these other big sections of stuff. Why was this incomplete? I have a huge problem with that, especially over half a million dollar decision.”
No options were presented to the commission, he said. The increased space would “accommodate an increase in the operation,” Cooley said. “That is not our taxpayers’ burden. We are to supply a dumpster area for a dumpster. That’s it.”
Barshay has been pressing the city to allow–and possibly contribute to–an expansion of the Funky pelican’s kitchen, and the business does use the dumpster pad for storage of such things as chemicals, oils, propane tanks. All commissioners, however, have been adamant that while they would not object to a repaired pad–and now a pad expanded by about 50 percent-they will object to city funds being used to underwrite an expansion of the business itself.
“Okay, well, I disagree with you,” Commission Chairman Ken Bryan told Cooley. “I mean, that’s why we’re up here and we can have disagreements. And I meant we can all agree to disagree. Because, you know, I go back to the history of the building itself and I wasn’t here at that time. But I just wonder, was it ever meant to be a dumpster in the first place? I mean, where did it actually pick up the name dumpster space?”
Mealy recalled how she stopped going to the old Pier Restaurant a decade ago. “That restaurant was a horror show,” she said, “and Ray has made it into a clean, good smelling i guess bar and restaurant with wonderful food.” Mealy cited the much-improved income as “an important thing to contemplate.” She said some members of the public “probably think we’re a bunch of jerks. We are not a bunch of jerks.” But the project had to be put off for various reasons, and now it finally had a bidder, with construction ahead.
Land of no turn signals says says
Time to triple up the rent next lease.just sayin.
Robby Robert says
They just exercised a 5 year renewal and have two more 5 year extensions available.. So around 2037 Flagler Beach may renegotiate a new rate.. Just saying..
So, over three years of no revenue for the City, based on 140K in rent, for a pad expansion?
Making the current pad safe and usable is clearly the responsibility of the City, why it took so long is a sign of incompetence. Even if the pad was not in use, the City is lucky there was not an incident in the years it has been a safety hazard.
I would suggest fixing the pad in a manner that would support a future expansion and hopefully reduce what seems to be a ridiculous amount of money for the entire project; then approach the expansion as a separate discussion with transparency.
Here’s how it’s gonna go: These “bunch of jerks” are going to stick to their guns, pass the costs of this joke onto the citizens, and eventually, it will be mostly forgotten. Tourists don’t know what’s going on; residents are not listened to. Same old, same old.
This is Captain’s BBQ all over again. Rock bottom rent on the ICW and the locals pay for their upkeep and expansion. The building for Captain’s BBQ was originally a bait and tackle shop with to go sandwiches. Now, they want a liquor license, expansion, dedicated boat slips and have very little use for bait and tackle. Same thing with Funky Pelican. It’s on the Atlantic Ocean, and somehow, the residents are supposed to fund it’s expansion while losing their view. It’s absolutely mind blowing how these restaurateurs get these deals! Where do these commissioners come from? They drop out of the sky, land on our turf and claim to improve our area on our dime. Almost every time, these transplants tell us how lousy our area was before, and how magnificently they’ve improved it over us bumpkins.
Dig down into your pockets Flagler Beach. The businesses need help, again and again and again.
Something Smells Fishy says
So there is NO alternate proposals? Nobody can build a simple concrete structure for less than almost a half million? The cost Cannot be that high almost a half million seriously?? Can we expose the kickback from the contractor to a specific local politician? Find that smoking Gun Flagler Live, Were counting on you… This deal smells worse than the fish carcasses in that dumpster rotting in the Summer sun.
I Just Love Flagler Beach says
No doubt we need to repair this “dumpster pad.” But the bottom line is, the commissioners voted on this project with virtually no information. I looked at the 4/28 Agenda Packet and there was nothing there to see. That is appalling. And then at the next meeting the three commissioners who voted for the project did nothing but justify and defend an indefensible vote. And our city manager trotted out “my building official and my fire marshal” to back him up. It was an embarrassing display to watch.
Marcel J Robert says
So I disagree that the City needs to bear the Costs.. The damage done to the area by oils and detergents, etc… being hosed down in the Garbage Can den caused the problem. Lease clearly states maintenance needed as a result of tenants use to be paid by tenant..
Look for domestic beer to go $8 and well drinks go to $10, a bit pricey for Miller Light and Skol vodka. At least you can still go across the street and get reasonably priced Wehrmacht souvenirs.
Thomas Ackerman says
Omg people. Prices have gone up. Everything is double from years ago. Stop blaming current officials. How about the folks who have ignored Funky for years. We don’t want to look like a ghost town and have things unsafe. Things are finally getting done. City has the money. This item was budgeted last year for $500k. Aarrgghh
“Ghost town?” Are you serious? Have you tried to get a parking spot lately? Where’s the parking for Funky? Half a mil for a dumpster pad? Make it safe, and no expansion. Our little “ghost town” needs no more expansion. You want crazy busy? Go to my hometown of Ft. Lauderdale. Arrrggghh!
A restaurant renovation and rebuild could be done for that amount. Request OSHA inspect! Probably would find enough violations to close it.