On Volusia: Go West, Pilgrims!

“All Hail the King!”

Anyone else enjoy reading about the continuing coronation of Consolidated-Tomoka Land Company’s John Albright in Sunday’s paper?

It’s nice to see another local “High Panjandrum” of political power finally receive his crown.

After deftly surviving the corporate wars – and his heroic efforts to keep the “good old boy’s investment club” intact – Mr. Albright certainly deserves it.

The ascension of John Albright as our “newest and bestest” Redeemer – the latest anointed oracle – our own Brahan Seer – who will lead us all out of this fetid wasteland and deliver us from squalor by parting with some 2,500 corporately held acres for a Buffett-themed development, a mega-gas station – and a grocery warehouse for an upscale chain that believes Daytona Beach has the right demographic to sort and deliver their merchandise – but lacks the cachet for an actual store.

Happy Days are here again!  Again. . .

The undeveloped piney woods along LPGA Boulevard – much of it owned by Consolidated-Tomoka (and nearly all of it tax protected under agriculture exemptions?) – have become the epicenter of the Halifax area’s westward migration – a struggling renaissance based on the strategy of geographically moving as far away from that stinking pile of blight and dilapidation on the beachside as possible.

It’s why I feel awkwardly sorry for those well-meaning people who are so incredibly focused on “what to do” about the myriad problems we face on the beachside – the ugly gateways, fiscally and visibly depressed neighborhoods, entrenched homeless, blighted commercial corridors, overgrown lots, decrepit rental properties, vacant store fronts and cheap motels, etc., etc.

The “Big Money” – controlled exclusively by a few wealthy political insiders and corporate interests – have turned their collective attention to the west.  They know our core tourist areas have been “played out” – like a once thriving gold mine that is now so much worthless residue.

With over $100-million in beachside CRA funds over the transom – it was good while it lasted – but smart money follows the crowd.

With an 8,000 to 10,000 unit “lifestyle destination” known as “Latitudes at Margaritaville” actively being built on top of our water recharge area west of I-95 – and additional large-scale projects planned and permitted along the I-95 corridor from Brevard to Flagler – the focus (and opportunity) has shifted.

In a May 2017 Barker’s View piece entitled, “Daytona Beach: A tale of two cities,” I wrote:

“To our ‘economic development’ types, the festering carcass of the beachside represents an old, ugly and intractable problem, an embarrassing shrine to human greed and government ineptitude – a turnip squeezed dry – a grotesque thing no longer worth the effort and expense of saving.

Conversely, Latitudes Margaritaville represents Progress.  Fun.  Opportunity.  Money. 

Two sides of the same coin – abject blight and dilapidation contrasting with the excitement and promise of what will be.

The baggage of the past vs. the potential of future progress.”

It’s unfortunate.  But true.

Another thing I found ill-timed was County Manager Jim Dinneen’s efforts to drop a turd in the News-Journal’s celebratory punch bowl and turn Mr. Albright’s front page investiture into an advertisement for even higher local taxes.

“Volusia County Manager Jim Dinneen said he welcomes the growth taking place along LPGA Boulevard, “as long as it is correctly designed and isn’t a burden on people.”

 Bullshit.

In my view, Little Jimmy wants to put the burden directly on every man, woman and child in Volusia County through a one-cent sales tax increase ostensibly earmarked for transportation infrastructure.

You see, our local fuel tax has been maxed-out – and our property taxes are among the highest in the state of Florida – so increasing the sales tax is among the few revenue options remaining.

Now, Mr. Dinneen is beginning the long and disturbing process of softening us up with his patented hand-wringing and scary stories that embroider the obvious.

I think most sentient beings understand that injecting thousands of relocated Parrotheads on east Volusia surface roads is going to result in a nasty traffic quagmire – not to mention the increased pressure on existing utilities, resources and services.

So, why aren’t developers – you know, those who stand to profit – required to help mitigate this looming economic and infrastructure burden?

A smart friend recently calculated the estimated impact fees generated by new home starts in Latitudes Margaritaville at more than $52-million dollars.

You see, there was a time when local governments required that new growth paid its own way.  Impact fees were designed to cover the cost of improving infrastructure, building schools and increasing transportation and utilities to meet rapidly increasing needs.

That’s a foreign concept here on the Fun Coast.

Here, We, The People, provide the developer du jour with anything and everything they need to reduce overhead costs and maximize corporate profits.  In Volusia County, we cave to the wants of speculative developers and home builders – then force things like sales tax hikes on those who can least afford it.

It’s what they call ‘economic development.”

Don’t like it?  Tough.

History tells us that our elected marionettes in Deland, and the politically motivated hacks who control the nexus of public funds and private interests, will support anything presented as “progress” – so long as the right last names are involved – regardless of how disconnected from the core issues it may be, or how it ultimately affects the lives and livelihoods of their long-suffering constituents.

Trust me.  “Progress” is coming to “Boom Town Boulevard” and points west – even if it gridlocks every street and roadway in East Volusia County.

As our powers-that-be blindly put the cart before the horse – and the News-Journal continues to wallow in the self-congratulatory bullshit espoused by the profiteers – remember, you and I will ultimately pay dearly to solve the problem.

 

 

 

 

One thought on “On Volusia: Go West, Pilgrims!

  1. Well Mark, in all fairness, Tomoka Consolidated did drop one small piece of pelican poop in a beachside CRA under the cutsey surfing moniker of “Longboards” which is building 2 restaurants on beachfront property just a block south of our beautiful gateway, ISB. For anyone in the know, these crappy stick- built restaurants aren’t designed to last more than 7-10 years. The Jimmy Buffett and Mexican themed eateries are actually facades hiding the underground infrastructure to turn this site into the home of two 30+ story condominiums. The Daytona City Council, abet one very savvy Ruth Traeger, rolled over for a good tummy scratch while Tomoka Consolidated got every exemption not currently allowed by the Land Development Code or Redevelopment Code erased from their pages like they never existed. Who wins? The City of Daytona with the promise of future mega taxing dollars provided by the obscene density the City Council voted for. Other winner, Tomoka Consolidated who only had to dangle a couple of shoddy restaurants to get the opportunity to pre package the property for a future condo developer and make an obscene profit from their original investment. Who loses? The historicly designated neighborhood that borders this project and even the City itself who will certainly lose its floundering pier tenant with the advent of two new city backed restaurants within walking distance of the pier. All that money they spent fixing up the pier, well hey, it’s only money, just so you know.

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