Ex-Mayor Jim Canfield and current Mayor Jon Netts bookended the story of Palm Coast’s 15-year journey to a City Hall of its own in a grand opening ceremony that drew throngs of residents and plenty of cheers.
Mayor Jon Netts celebrated the occasion in words that richly threaded Palm Coast’s nomadic years to Wednesday’s moment, turning symbolism into masonry as he spoke of the building representing unity, diversity and energy.
City Market Place owner John Bills is asking for a 57 percent increase in rent from Palm Coast government, whose offices have been renting 22,000 square feet at City Market Place for five years. The city needs one more year before moving to City Hall in Town Center. It’s now shopping for other spaces for that year.
In the face of intense opposition, but also just as intense support, the Palm Coast City Council Tuesday said Yes to a new city hall. The 5-0 vote followed three hours of presentations, public comment and discussion before an overflow crowd at the Palm Coast Community Center, the largest crowd to turn up for any issue in recent memory.
Landon and the council want their $9 million city hall the way petulant children want a new toy. But there’s a lot more arrogance than prudence in the city’s approach. So it’s pretty simple. If the city is convinced that this is a good thing for itself and for residents, just ask residents what they think. That’s a yes or no question all of us would welcome.
Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon on Tuesday choreographed a presentation focused on a $9 million city hall in Town Center he said can be built mostly with existing dollars–and without a referendum–as the Flagler Chamber of Commerce and the Palm Coast Observer worked on a letter-writing campaign to sway council members, who may vote on the plan next week.
City Manager Jim Landon is proposing a refurbished $6.8 million plan that would use general fund dollars to build a new city hall without raising taxes, even though $5.8 million of that–a repayment from the Town Center taxing district–could be used to lower property taxes or build other capital projects with broader public uses. Residents had roundly rejected a similar plan in 2010 and 2011, when the building would have cost $10 million.
City administrator Jim Landon corralled the council to his vision of a new city hall, with a 2012 move-in date.
City government officials have kept mum for a year since foreclosure proceedings began on much of the 167,000-square-foot development.