Following is the prepared text of this evening’s State of the City Address by Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin as provided by the city. Assistant City Manager Lauren Johnston will introduce City Manager Denise Bevan, who will be followed by Mayor Alfin. Their remarks will be accompanied by a slide presentation and four videos. The videos are embedded in the prepared text below. The slides will be appended to the foot of the text.
The State of the City event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Palm Coast Community Center, 305 Palm Coast Parkway NE. It is an open and free event.
Denise Bevan: It is an incredible honor and privilege to welcome you all to the City of Palm Coast’s 2023 State of the City! There is a powerful feeling of inspiration and unity across this room tonight.
As your City Manager, I have the pleasure of working closely with our city staff and witnessing the incredible things they do for our residents every day. In addition, it’s our staff’s character to connect with every resident to help build a more sustainable and innovative community and economy. So, I am beyond excited for our Mayor to share some of these success stories with you.
In the daily bustle of our lives, it is easy to take things for granted. Things like clean water being accessible at the turn of a faucet, traffic signals that promote safe travel along our roadways, or having emergency medical services answering your call if ever you should dial 9-1-1.
Most of these critical services are exactly what Palm Coasters have come to expect and we continue to deliver. We want our residents to only focus on living and loving our beautiful Palm Coast and not worry about services! And your City Council members are your ultimate supporters.
As you just saw in that video, public service is a gratifying and challenging field. I am proud to share with you just how our employees met their challenges first- hand in 2022 and that they will continue to do so again this year.
More than ever, our employees believe that Palm Coast is a place rich with opportunities for everyone. Our story is one of cooperation and teamwork.
Now is the time to unite and share in the creative process while we plan and build our future together.
It is now with great pride that I introduce our Mayor, David Alfin, and ask him to join me at the podium.
David Alfin: Thank you so much, Denise, for sharing your wise perspective with us. The dedicated leadership and respect you have shown to your fellow employees has been a compelling reason our collaborative efforts were so successful last year.
As I again welcome everyone both in attendance here at the Community Center and those who are watching us at home or listening to us on the radio, I would like to reiterate our message this evening:
Now is the time to plan and build our future together.
As I look across this room, I am seeing that the power of Palm Coast lies in our collective collaboration between residents, City staff, and elected officials. Our culture at City Hall is to listen so that we can better serve our mutual present and future needs.
This year will mark the 24th year since the citizens of Palm Coast determined that they were prepared to take the lead in governing themselves by voting to become an official municipality in Florida.
Over the years, we’ve watched Palm Coast transform from a small rural town to a multi-generational community, building together on our strengths and working hard to meet our difficult challenges.
As Palm Coast’s fourth Mayor, I’ve had a ringside seat to witness many of the struggles, the humanity, the effort, and the effectiveness of the knowledge and compassion that motivates people in our City. We step up where and when we are needed. Our employees who work at City Hall, the fire stations, community center, or water treatment plants keep services moving forward. Our residents who work at schools, large and small businesses, medical facilities, or factories – from home, on job sites, or in vehicles – keep us informed of their concerns and needs. Their instincts and input are the center of our daily work and decision-making.
When we work together, there is no limit to what we can do in our City, County, Region, State and Nation.
Last year, after personally witnessing the dedication and fervor of nearly 6,000 military personnel onboard the USS Gerald R Ford Aircraft Carrier, I initiated a proclamation for the City of Palm Coast and the Naval warship to become Sister Cities. Our proclamation affirmed that, as Sister Cities, our two vast communities of residents will continue to share educational opportunities, common resources, and connections to value integrity and accountability in actions and decision-making. I felt such optimism for my City while onboard this Carrier.
It made me feel so grateful for the outstanding military veterans who found their way to live here in Palm Coast over the years. It is our duty to stay connected to Palm Coast’s finest and to salute their service.
Closer to home, I am proud to tell you that our relationships last year with Flagler Beach, Bunnell, and the County are united and strong – more so, I would say, than any other time in our history.
In 2022, your Palm Coast government worked intently with Flagler County to align our priorities with the Florida Legislative delegation. These priorities focus on Public Health and Safety, Community Resiliency, Infrastructure, Conservation, and Open Space.
You may ask, “how do legislative priorities help Palm Coast residents?” The answer is simple: when City and County government priorities align, the State of Florida is more likely to recognize our collective needs and be supportive by awarding us more funding.
Hurricanes were another priority in 2022. While we were fortunate to avoid a direct hit from both Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, our area sustained damage and flooding to certain neighborhoods – especially for residents living in the Woodlands. Noting a possible issue, our IT and Stormwater Departments sat down together to quickly develop models capable of predicting flooding conditions. Their efforts helped to give advance warning to Woodlands residents, who could then determine whether or not to evacuate.
During the recovery phase of these storms, our public works, stormwater, engineering, utility, and fire departments joined for an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to ensure the appropriate resources were available in areas across neighborhoods that needed the most assistance.
While emergencies are just one example, your City officials understand that advanced preparation plays a critical role in addressing most issues that face a community and its population. Our proactive position on restoration and rebuilding projects every year across the City makes a difference in the quality of life for all of us.
As our City Manager, Denise, likes to say, “We are a young city with old bones.” And she’s absolutely correct. That’s why we must take the steps necessary to fortify those old bones to keep Palm Coast standing straight and tall. Let’s hear from our Utility & Stormwater Departments, the genuine experts who are restoring old bones:
The milling and resurfacing project at Belle Terre Parkway and Royal Palms Parkway was given the green light after an independent consulting firm surveyed the roadway and determined it needed significant repair.
Also in 2022, our incredible staff completed a massive utility maintenance project on Florida Park Drive. This project reconstructed a section of our sanitary sewer system and built a new lift station in a location that will reduce future traffic interference when maintenance is needed in the future.
Other roadways scheduled for milling and resurfacing in 2023 are Belle Terre Parkway, Seminole Woods Boulevard, Sesame Boulevard, and Easthampton Boulevard.
While these projects are paramount in maintaining our roads, Utility infrastructure, and preserving the quality of life that our residents have come to expect, we are sensitive to the fact that they can be inconvenient for our residents.
However, it is critically necessary for us to maintain our roads and utility infrastructure to keep YOU safe. Projects that may take weeks or even months to complete are being done for the betterment of everyone and often to prevent a much more severe problem from occurring down the line.
It is important to the City to look into every matter that is brought to our attention by our residents. We are committed to listening to your concerns and working toward a solution together. Many of these solutions may have a financial or environmental impact that makes a quick solution impractical. While it may take time to resolve the issue, we are determined to find a resolution that will benefit our community. We value the input of our residents and believe it is vitally important to work together to build a better future for Palm Coast.
In addition to those restoration efforts, I am happy to say that other large-scale enhancements are underway to support our vision of a Palm Coast where everyone can enjoy a superb quality of life regardless of age or physical capabilities.
When we think about why so many people moved to Palm Coast in recent years, I’m certain the answer points straight to our splendid parks and recreation. When it comes to sharing beauty, fun, and relaxation with family and friends, we have the epitome of why people move to Florida: magnificent trails, wildlife, exciting recreational activities, and an abundance of sunshine to enjoy it all.
I am so excited about the 2022-23 leisure enrichments we’re offering. Let’s listen to what’s going on at Parks and Recreation:
This coming year in Palm Coast promises much more progress to make us all truly proud. Certainly, we are all anticipating the opening of a beautiful new Advent Health Hospital on Palm Coast Parkway, staffed with new physicians, nurses, and technicians possibly trained here in Town Center. And where will these new medical professionals and their families want to live?
In 2023, we’ll see the beginning stages of the inauguration of our new westward frontier movement. Much like our nation’s pioneers who advanced west to capture the opportunity for new land, likewise, Palm Coast residents will soon be looking west of US1. The prospect of living the Florida dream in our abundant community will eventually draw folks to the new homes, services, and shopping that will be offered as we expand into this new frontier.
It will take time and effort to expand to the westward boundaries of Palm Coast. That’s why it’s crucial to review our current Comprehensive Plan to successfully map out future planning for our next decades of growth. Comprehensive planning is an important tool that your City Council uses when guiding our future development toward a safe, pleasant, and sustainable environment.
And this is where we need you – our citizens – as our partners. In the coming months, you’ll be encouraged to attend meetings or complete surveys or mailers to let us know how you feel about planning and building our future together. You will have ample opportunity to speak up and have your own ideas documented, and your own dreams realized.
In the coming months, professional facilitators, along with City staff, will be assisting with the Plan evaluation and update. Whether you’ve lived here for a decade, a year, a month, a week, or a day, if you decide to share your feedback with us, I guarantee you’ll look at Palm Coast in a more profound way than ever before.
The City of Palm Coast is home to some of the most selfless and dedicated individuals I’ve ever met – those who go above and beyond to serve others. These individuals embody the spirit of service and volunteerism, and it is through their tireless efforts that our community is able to thrive, which is why at this time, I would like to take a moment to recognize three incredible residents who stood out in 2022 and thank them for their outstanding contributions to our community.
[Editor’s Note: The award recipients’ names are withheld until this evening’s public announcement.]
First and foremost, I want to recognize and congratulate the winner of our Public Service Award to recently retired Fire Chief Jerry Forte, an exemplary hero in our community. Jerry dedicated 32 years of his career to serving the City with the Palm Coast Fire Department, including the last several years as Fire Chief. Jerry started with the City as a volunteer in 1990 and worked his way up. In October of 2022, Jerry accepted his next assignment – retirement. He has always put the safety and well-being of our citizens first, and his leadership and expertise have been invaluable to our community. Jerry, your service and commitment to the community and the Palm Coast Fire Department have not gone unnoticed, and we are grateful for the legacy you leave behind. Please come up to receive your award.
Next, I am pleased to announce that the Citizen of the Year Award goes to Pastor Charles Silano, a true leader in our community. Pastor Charlie has made an invaluable contribution through his work with the Grace Community Food Pantry and for initiating the first Food-a-thon that raised over half a million dollars for those in need in our community last year. The Grace Community Food Pantry serves 3,500 local families each month and provides enough food to feed a family for a week. In addition to the food pantry, Pastor Charlie is also chairman of the Open Door Re-entry and Recovery Ministry, which provides housing to people overcoming substance abuse addiction. His compassion and selflessness serve as an inspiration to us all, and we are grateful for his dedication to making a difference in the lives of those around him. Pastor Charlie, please come up to receive your award.
And finally, I am honored to present the Next Generation Award to Emma Stanford. Emma has made a significant impact on our community through her work with Emma Loves K9s Inc. At just 11 years old, Emma had a heart for first responders, and especially their canine partners. She developed a non-profit to raise money to help provide necessary resources for K-9 handlers, including veterinary care for retired K9s which is generally the responsibility of the handler who adopts the K9 when they retire. In 2022, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 226 with Emma by his side. The bill provides up to $1,500 a year in reimbursements for the medical care of retired police dogs. Emma’s dedication to improving the lives of our four-legged friends is truly inspiring, and she is a shining example of our bright future. Emma, please come up to receive your award.
As I close our presentation, I can’t help but feel my heart and soul going back again to October on the Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier and the optimism I felt. I’m reminded again of how our mutual interaction and connectivity on that ship personified our calling for the common good. This hopefulness reminded me of what we have together here in Palm Coast. It has built our allegiance to each other. It has been life-changing and life-strengthening.
When you climb back into your car tonight, I hope you will take home a richer connection to your fellow residents. Might you feel a bit more at peace? A little more confident in the Palm Coast’s future is more sustainable because of our support of one another?
I do hope so. I will always believe that without each of YOU, there is no US. Thank you so much again for attending our State of the City event and I look forward to engaging with each of you in 2023 while we plan and build our future together.
2023 SOTC PRESENTATION-no videos