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Opinion
Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Jul. 12, 2021 3 months ago

LETTER: No reason Beach Street church building should be demolished

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'I am aware of several nonprofit organizations that are interested in responding to the request for proposals,' Bill Partington II says.
by: Guest Writer
Bill Partington II

Editor's Note: Bill Partington II, father of Mayor Bill Partington, submitted the following to the Ormond Beach City Commission in May and sent it to the Observer prior to the July 13 special meeting.

Dear Editor:

The purchase of this property by the city will prove to have been a strategic move. While the initial thought was to use the building site as a possible location for a community center, this no longer seems like a good location for that use for a number of reasons. Having control of the riverfront part of this property is of great value to the citizens of our city and represents a significant portion of the total purchase price of the entire property. Given that the parcel west of Beach Street does not appear to satisfy the use that was originally proposed, I have several questions about the future use for this western portion of the property.

Until recently access to the church sanctuary and educational building was prohibited. I have some knowledge about rehabilitation of construction of the education building and former church office, an “L” shaped building at the rear of the parcel behind the sanctuary. While it appears to be full of mildew and in bad shape, the interior can be easily demolished leaving a perfectly good and extremely strong structure, including clean concrete floors, walls and ceiling, ready to be "built out."

Upon examination of the sanctuary and social hall building, the main structure was built in 1960. I attended a wedding at the old original church building that was located closer to the corner of Lincoln and Beach Street in 1959. The social hall, kitchen, bathrooms, library and additional conference rooms were built after the sanctuary, I guess about 10 years after, or approximately 1970. That part of the building seems to be in overall good condition. There are obvious minor leaks in the flat roof sections of sanctuary, both in the entry vestibule and in the pulpit area. There are water stains on the high pitched roof in the eastern most section, indicating some roof problem there. The air-conditioning duct work on the south aisle of the church appears to have a condensation leak causing some plaster to fall onto the floor.

My purpose in reciting my observations of the building conditions is to indicate that there are no significant structural or environmental problems that cannot be remedied that are readily apparent at this time.

Which leads me to possible uses of the existing structure in lieu of demolition. It also brings up the possibility of dividing the property into two parcels, East of Beach Street and West of Beach Street.

If the city is not interested in using the western portion of the property for the use imagined when it was purchased, might it be possible to solicit requests for proposal for possible community uses? This might even include selling the western parcel to a nonprofit if there was an acceptable proposed use that would be of great benefit to our citizens.

I am aware of several nonprofit organizations that are interested in responding to the request for proposals, if the city was willing to consider this option.

I have proposed that 10 or more individuals might share in the purchase of the building to fend off demolition pending finding the building's ultimate use. I understand that an RFP could be written in such a way that the city could consider any proposed use and development plan and decide what proposal would best meet the needs of the citizens of Ormond Beach, not necessarily the proposal that offered the highest dollar amount for the western portion of the property. Some of the uses that have heard are being considered are as "maker space," entrepreneur start up or incubator space, rental meeting space for large or smaller meetings, a child or adult day care, and part or full-time shared house of worship for religious congregations.

Additionally, both our own Economic Development Director Brian Rademacher and Tom Daily at the Small Business Development Center at Daytona State have indicated an interest in helping to develop a business plan for possible uses.

When I searched the city's website, here is a “fishbowl” question that was asked at a City community information meeting held at the Calvary Church: “Is there any historic value to the church on Beach St. & Lincoln?”

The city's answer: “The property at 56 North Beach Street is on the City’s Local Landmark List and within the Lincoln Avenue Historic District. The site was designated based on a house at this location which was constructed in 1940, but is no longer in existence. According to the Property Appraiser website, the church was constructed in 1976 and is not a historic structure.”

Today I know that this is totally inaccurate. Perhaps because of this inaccuracy, you took the property off the local official list of Historic Buildings in 2018.

So now I ask, would you consider selling or a long-term lease of the western parcel with the buildings? The only meeting I know of where the property was discussed was a City Commission Workshop where official action could not be taken. There was a three to two consensus at that meeting that the city manager be directed to investigate demolition of the building and the disposal of the contents of the building. Has there been any meeting that I may have missed where further discussion has occurred?

Thank you for your consideration. I hope that you will not vote to demolish the church at this evening's meeting and will instead put it on “hold” until further options can be considered, including issuing a Request for Proposals for possible uses for the building that are beneficial to the citizens of Ormond Beach.

Bill Partington II

Ormond Beach

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