FLAGLER BEACH – The Flagler Beach Historical Museum will presumably operate on a yearly lease with the City of Flagler Beach, as opposed to the initially proposed ten-year commitment. Patti King, the museum’s director, reached a consensus with the City Commission at Thursday night’s business meeting. For the foreseeable future, the museum is slated to stay in its existing location adjacent to City Hall on Central Ave.
The agenda item to renew the lease between the city and the museum was initially placed in the consent section, a portion of local government meetings reserved for matters which likely won’t warrant much discussion. That item outlined a ten-year commitment between the city and the museum, to ensure it would stay in place well into the 2030s.
Changing the Deal
The first crack in the initial plan came when Commissioner Rick Belhumeur posed his first question: what if City Hall no longer existed by then? It’s not immediately clear what circumstances would bring this scenario to be; the City of Bunnell has dealt with a lack of permanence in their own city headquarters, which may have given a scare to neighboring municipalities. Beyond that, Flagler Beach has taken one beating after another by hurricanes over the last seven years or so, and though City Hall hasn’t taken much damage recently, any lengthy tenancies in coastal Florida exist under a dark cloud of sorts.
Museum Director Patti King was on-hand Thursday to discuss an agreement with the City Commission. Though it never felt as though an agreement was unlikely, the terms of the lease changed rapidly and in great increment over a less-than-ten-minute conversation. First it was ten years, then King proposed five. Commission Chair Eric Cooley floated a ten-year lease with an annual mutual option; the flaw in this being, it functions no differently than a series of one-year leases. The ten-year time frame would be entirely noncommittal and ceremonious in nature.
One concern raised by City Attorney Drew Smith was the potential effect of a shorter lease term on grant money. Smith, acting out of protectiveness to the museum, encouraged the Commission to consider this possibility. Director King stated she didn’t believe such an effect would come to fruition.
Terms of Agreement
Ultimately, a key protection was put into the motion to protect the museum from the pitfalls of short leases: a mandatory one-year notice if one party chose not to renew. When the deal is finalized, the city and the museum will be locked in until at least 2025; by coming to an agreement both parties commit to at least one year, and from there 2024 would be the next opportunity for either to not renew. That would schedule the end of the relationship for 2025, honoring the one-year notice.
“As long as we have a twelve-month notice, I’m not aware of any pending plans to change the structure in any way,” King said. “With a twelve-month notice we would be fine to find another location.”
Though consensus has been reached, the new lease agreement is not yet finalized. King will have to take the arrangement before the museum’s board and obtain their approval before it’s locked in. She indicated they almost certainly would approve. The City Commission voted 5-0 to approve the agreement, but would be re-entered into a fresh negotiation in the event the museum’s board rejected the terms.