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Opinion
Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022 6 days ago

3 letters: Upholding Alice Strickland's vision for Ormond

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What are your neighbors talking about this week?
by: Guest Writer

Alice needs a champion

Dear Editor:

Alice Strickland (1912-2003) was a researcher and an author of books and articles on Florida history. Her book, "Ormond-On-The-Halifax," published in 1980, marked the occasion of the Ormond Beach centennial. The city was incorporated on April 22, 1880. She traced the history of our community and area all the way back to the 1500s, from the Timucua Indians through colonization by the British and Spanish planters of rice, indigo, and sugar. The final paragraph of the text of "Ormond-On-The-Halifax," page 142, is worth noting:

“Ormond Beach is essentially a town of very attractive residential districts. It has survived many storms, economic troubles, wars, and the ever-present threat of overdevelopment. However, the city government and the people of Ormond Beach have managed so far to value the natural beauty of the town and surroundings above the material value of indiscriminate development, and destruction of ecological and historically important areas. The early pioneers of Ormond, who endured great hardships to found the town, would appreciate and approve the concern and efforts of its present citizens to preserve these valuable assets so that in another hundred years Ormond Beach will survive as a town that is noted for its conservative approach to development, and which has retained its God-given beauty and attractions.”

The public mandates Alice Strickland described in 1980 were legacies from citizens who lived here in the 1970s, 1960s, 1950s, and before. It’s safe to say those mandates remained in place through the 1980s and 1990s.

Mayor Partington’s six years as mayor and 19 years as a City Commissioner altogether have witnessed our city government’s consistent rejection of those long-held citizen mandates to protect our environment and history. His votes, decisions, and actions have served only to reinforce “the material value of indiscriminate development,” resulting in ecological destruction and over development that is now painfully evident.

As a 2022 candidate for mayor, I have been privileged to meet with the executive leadership of the Ormond Beach Historical Society who shared their vision. I have pledged to the Historical Society, as I now pledge to the citizens of Ormond Beach, to be the champion for the public mandate Alice Strickland so eloquently described. I will champion preservation of our valuable ecological and historically important areas, and buildings, from indiscriminate over development.

Rob Bridger

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: Rob Bridger is a candidate in the 2022 Ormond Beach mayoral race.

Development games

Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter to express my concern about the many games that the Planning Board and City Commission play to justify their decisions. Namely, their approval of the development of a 310 multi-family unit apartment complex where the former Regal movie theater was located. I have noticed that a growing number of Ormond Beach residents are angry about this development because it will add gridlock and exceed the capability of our current infrastructure. Meeting minutes from the June 9th Planning Board stated that this project is expected to generate an additional 2,062 average daily trips at the intersection of Williamson and Granada!

I urged the Planning Board and City Commission to conduct a detailed traffic study before approving any development plans at this location. I believe that they have misled the citizen of Ormond Beach. They are trying to convince us that the “movie theater generates 3,912 average daily trips” (Reference the city of Ormond Beach Ordinance ORD-2022-19). I believe that logic is nonsense since the theater was never well attended. I must also note that the developer could build a smaller movie theater or apartment complex that would generate much less traffic. However, we know that the developer and city have only one goal and that is to maximize profits at the expense of the citizens of Ormond Beach.

Joseph Valerio

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: Joseph Valerio is running to represent Zone 1 on the Ormond Beach City Commission.

Actions matter more than words

Dear Editor:

When I first heard Bill Partington speak of his qualifications for mayor, his foremost qualification was being an Ormond Beach native. Immediately, I wondered why an accident of birth was more important than making a conscious choice to live here. Yet, in spite of being a “native,” through his actions during his reign as councilman and mayor, Partington has demonstrated his disregard for stewardship of Ormond Beach and the care of its citizens.

Regarding, Partington’s words, his campaign promises were simple: Keep the small-town feel of Ormond Beach and taxes low. His actions demonstrate otherwise, except perhaps lower taxes for developers. For example, he approved a design contract to build a second sewer plant to service Avalon Park — a community paying taxes to Daytona Beach — not Ormond Beach, and funded $2.38 million for a second raw water main along State Road 40 west of I-95. Then he approved hefty water and sewer rate increases in 2021 and 2022 for our residents. Similarly, the current administration provided water and sewer service to Plantation Oaks, then annexed the mega-development of 1,550 manufactured homes whose residents are receiving Ormond Beach services but paying no property taxes. Yet, the mayor voted to approve 2022 property tax increase of $800,000 for us.

Regarding downtown, the Partington regime spent over $2 million in Cassen Park for a floating boat dock and new bait house. Then, it spent $1 million to buy the historic Riverside Church and razed it to create parking. 

Partington’s fiscal decision making clearly favors developers over citizens’ and city-workers’ needs. Beachside residents are still waiting for a promised urgent care-emergency room. Citizens want more police presence. But, retention and recruiting are hampered by an underfunded pay scale and a poor retirement plan, not to mention a lack of funds for equipment and training. Rather than allocating funds to remedy these deficiencies, Partington advocates moving the police station and constructing a $34.5 million building elsewhere. The current property must be too valuable to developers.

In 2004, Partington opposed a runway extension. Yet, in 2022, he supports a runway extension for an airport $686,000 in debt to the general fund of Ormond Beach to which no repayments have been made since 2015. FAA guidelines require municipal airports to be “as self-sustaining as possible” with no taxpayer subsidy.

We can do better. We should remember the words of Founding Father, Benjamin franklin, “Well done is better than well said.”

Dan Gowen

Ormond Beach

Editor's note: Only one phase of Plantation Oaks — phase 2, which is planned to have 427 lots — will have manufactured housing. The remainder of the the development will be composed of single-family housing. Mayor Bill Partington was given a chance to respond: 

There are too many misstatements in the above letter to cover in the allotted space, but let me say, Ormond Beach continues to enjoy a record of great success.  Our residents enjoy some of the very lowest utility and tax rates in the county.  Also we have a record of investing in and maintaining the infrastructure and equipment our amazing city employees need to do their jobs safely and well while providing essential services to our residents.

Hard work and partnerships with Ormond Mainstreet, amazing investors, business owners and entrepreneurs have created a vibrant downtown and four corners walkable gem in our city. Our arts district is burgeoning and the improvements at our Ormond Memorial Art Museum and the Historical Society are just a couple examples of how our city is thriving.

Experts agree that the airport runway extension makes a safer, quieter and paid for by grant dollars (not city taxpayers) airport which benefits all Ormond Beach. Also the prior extension proposal was the wrong runway to extend as it would have sent traffic directly over the Bear Creek Neighborhood. Seasoned pilots will explain to you that, based on prevailing winds, this runway is the correct one to extend.

Send letters up to 400 words to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.​​

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