PALM COAST – Mayor David Alfin gave the annual State of the City address on Thursday, the last one he’ll give in his current term in office. Along with other major civic leaders in Palm Coast and Flagler County, Alfin addressed a packed crowd in the largest room at the Palm Coast Community Center.
The evening was opened with a rousing rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by Flagler Palm Coast High School student K’imani Gervin-McCoy. A familiar face to the community, Gervin-McCoy recently gave the same performance to open the 2024 legislative session in Tallahassee, at the recommendation of School Board Chair Will Furry and Florida House Speaker Paul Renner. Just as she did then, Gervin-McCoy received thunderous applause for her singing.
Next, a host of community leaders in attendance were highlighted by Assistant City Manager Lauren Johnston. The Palm Coast State of the City is among the most important gatherings in local government, and though the mayor represents only one of Flagler County’s three cities he’s the most visible permanent Chair in any of the municipalities. Representatives were on hand from the County Commission, School Board, Flagler Beach City Commission, and Alfin’s colleagues on the Palm Coast City Council attended as well. Also present were Sheriff Rick Staly, Elections Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart, Palm Coast City Manager Denise Bevan, and County Administrator Heidi Petito.
The tone of the address was potentially Alfin’s most outward-facing speech yet. He focused almost exclusively on the accomplishments of others, namely city staff. He did devote a portion of the address toward lofty goals in the city’s near future. Westward expansion continues to loom over Palm Coast, and Alfin attempted to assure residents that the necessary steps were being taken to ensure the inevitable stresses of growth would be manageable. “Anticipating growth, we’ve fast-tracked an engineering study to increase the capacity of our treatment plants, aligning with our goal of a city whose infrastructure evolves responsibly by 2027,” Alfin said.
Another area of local intrigue is the still mostly-unshaped Town Center area. The land surrounding the Central Landings apartments and Epic Theatres is still largely undeveloped. Alfin spoke of a multi-use facility called The Promenade to be built at the corner of Bulldog Drive and Central Ave, which would host restaurants, coffee shops, and one-to-two bedroom student housing. Tenants here would be attendees of the upcoming University of North Florida campus coming to Palm Coast.
On the issue of public safety, Alfin ceded the floor to the city’s two foremost department heads: Sheriff Staly and Palm Coast Fire Chief Kyle Berryhill. Staly boasted favorable crime numbers while referencing his own time in office as a unit of measurement. Staly is running for re-election this year, with opponent Larry Jones having said he’d run but having not yet filed. Berryhill’s speech was defined by a major announcement: that the PCFD would be getting a new fire station on Seminole Woods Blvd. It’s been long known that this addition was in the works, but Berryhill’s mention placed it back in the spotlight of upcoming city projects.
Three major citizen awards were given out toward the close of the address. The residents who were honored were as follows:
- Public Service Award – David Lydon, Flagler County Veteran Services Officer
- Citizen of the Year Award – Carrie Baird, Flagler Cares CEO
- Next Generation Award: Erik Libby, To-Do-Dudes Founder & CEO
The close of Alfin’s speech invoked the rhetoric of the presidential State of the Union addresses that these annual Palm Coast gatherings have always tonally resembled. “The story of Palm Coast is still being written, and your participation is essential to its narrative,” Alfin said. “Let’s continue writing this story together. Stay involved, stay informed, and let your voice be heard.”
Alfin will be on the ballot for re-election in the August primary, where faces challengers Alan Lowe, Peter Johnson, Mike Norris, and Scott McDonald. If one candidates receives more than 50% of the vote, they’re elected. If no one does, the top two candidates advance to a runoff on the November ballot. Alfin could serve up to two more four-year terms after this one, as his current three-year term does not count against the city’s term limit policy.