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Palm Coast Residents Rally for New Public Pool, Canal Dredging

ⓒ AskFlagler

Palm Coast residents have taken up a pair of new causes in recent weeks: advocates have approached the City Council lobbying for renewed dredging of the C section canals, and for the construction of a new public swimming pool. Though each of the 13 speakers in the meeting’s public comment section who addressed one of the two (20 total people spoke) mostly stuck to one or the other, many offered words of support for each other’s cause as well.

A New Public Pool

Each of the first five commenters made mention of their desire for a new pool. It is, in their view, time to address the growing population and add to the existing two: the Frieda Zamba Pool and the Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club. The former pool is closed about half of the year, and the latter is only so staffed up when it is open, to accommodate considerable crowds.


Still, public pools are a pricey venture. The Council faced considerable opposition the last time it approved a large public amenity in the form of a multimillion dollar tennis & racquet facility. A public pool would likely be pushing into a similar price range in the low millions, though it’s tough to pinpoint a reliable figure when everything from the square footage to the staffing needs is entirely speculative. City staff would likely be tasked with providing the Council a ballpark cost projection before serious discussions about advancing on the project began.

The City of Palm Coast has a $2.4 million earmarked for improvements at Frieda Zamba Pool, according to the Capital Projects Fund obtained by AskFlagler via public record request. An additional $100k is set aside for ‘pool assessment’ at the Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club pool. Nothing in the same Capital Projects Fund is allotted for the construction of a new pool.

Outlined in red are the line items relevant to the Frieda Zamba Pool.

Canal Dredging

Is the public’s other concern, canal dredging, any more likely to happen? Speculatively speaking, probably. There aren’t many residents who disagree that the canals are overdue for the project. Councilman Ed Danko has been forthright about his wishes to move forward with a dredging project. “It’s part of our city,” Danko said back in October when the Council previously cogitated the issue. Councilman Danko speculated a cost upwards of $40,000 in an interview with the Palm Coast Observer in April of last year.

Back up a step. What exactly is the dredging problem? Thousands of Palm Coast’s residents live in the C Section, an informal neighborhood which largely exists along a system of saltwater canals on the northeast side of town. The canals provide access to the ocean for Palm Coast’s boating community, a resource for fishing and waterside activities, and a source of beautification unique to that section of the city. They are considered one of Palm Coast’s premier amenities.

For proponents of dredging, the issue is that in the years since the canals were dredged last, a buildup of debris and silt at the bottom has either risen the waterline or generally shallowed the canals (or a combination of both). The process of dredging would remove excess material from the bottom and give the canals back some of their original depth.

Sims Jones, shown here at a Martin Luther King Day event on Saturday, is a champion for dredging the canals. ⓒ Stephen Helfrich

There are, however, a certain number of residents who are skeptical about the project. As with the pool, it all falls back on cost. A proper dredging project would easily cost multiple millions of dollars, and likely take years to complete. The saltwater canals occupy 23 miles; if they were considered their own road, it’d be the longest one in Palm Coast. And as some have pointed out, though the canals the city’s largest amenity, they serve a finite number of residents.

“I think the City Council should really look more into it,” said 2022 Council candidate Sims Jones earlier this month. After running unsuccessfully in 2016 and 2020, the Democratic local pastor Jones has made the canals a focal issue for his ’22 campaign. “[The canals] need remedies. What is the City doing to rectify those situations?” he remarked after hearing several of the public commenters’ stories. Jones’ opponent in the race, Alan Lowe, was among the speakers about the canals and is largely on the same page as Jones, having long been an advocate for new dredging.

Is either project likely to happen? Probably not for awhile. But with the sheer number of residents showing up for both, they stand a good chance of appearing on a meeting agenda one day soon. It’s likely the canals will come up before the pool, as they’ve been at the forefront of discussion for longer and have momentum in public opinion. Both are worth staying in tune with.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.



  1. TR

    January 19, 2022 at 10:42 pm

    For the life of me I don’t understand why we need another public pool when we all live about 7 miles from one of the biggest pools in the world. It’s called the Ocean. Just another waste of money. How about the city council address the larger problems we have in the city. No significant jobs, figure out how to stop drivers from cutting corners of a residential property so that the property doesn’t look like a dirt track and the owner has a hard time selling their home for top value if they chose to sell. Fix the swale problems. Time the traffic signals properly. The list goes on and on as to what the city should focus on and not do things for just a few. If someone wants a public pool then maybe they should either buy a house with a pool or put one in their own yard. JMO

  2. Alan Lowe

    January 19, 2022 at 11:23 pm

    Saltwater canals.
    Over the past year or so, I have had meetings with residents and councilmen in an effort to bring the issue of a lack of saltwater canal maintenance to the forefront.
    At the Palm Coast City Council business meeting of Dec. 7, 2021 and Jan 18, 2022, the saltwater canals again were brought up in public comment. On some of the recent occasions that this issue has come forward, at least one of the sitting councilmen repeatedly referred to the maintenance issue as a boat owners problem and equated the cost to the number of boats, thereby tagging the saltwater canal system as an amenity. What if the canals were just an amenity in need of maintenance? A member of the public stood at the podium and presented info stating that there are approximately 4600 docks and seawalls associated with the saltwater canal system. Another speaker stated there are 26 miles of saltwater canals. This makes the saltwater canals the oldest, largest and most used amenity in the city. If the canals are an amenity then why aren’t a portion of the new construction impact fees that are specifically tagged for park and recreation expansion and maintenance also be used for the saltwater canal maintenance? I am referring to maintenance of the waterway itself and not privately owned seawalls. Although the city administration appeared not to have a true cost estimate for dredging, it was arbitrarily suggested that it could cost upwards of $50 million to catch up on maintenance that has never been done since the city was incorporated. There are several municipalities in Florida with saltwater canals that have dredging programs and instead of reinventing the wheel, we could reach out to them for guidance. In the 22 years of the city’s incorporation, the city hasn’t even created a budget line item for future saltwater canal maintenance. The reality is that the canals by virtue of their existence creates some of the highest revenue generated via property tax, fuel tax, sales tax so forth and yet the canals have been all but ignored by the city administration. However, this sticker-shock price tag isn’t without a similar price tag on another project. The city has approved moving forward with a racquetball sports stadium. Phase 1 Price tag is just above $5 million dollars. The parks and recreation department almost 3 years ago estimated the full project to cost about $20 million dollars and with the current increase in material costs, my personal estimate is now closer to $30 million dollars. The money for that project will in part come from the general fund and grants but a large portion will be derived from new construction impact fees. Identifying a portion of the parks and recreation impact fee portion of impact fees and finding available grants would mean that the saltwater canals could receive the much needed maintenance with NO increase in taxes to the existing home owners.
    Additionally, the city has named the canals as part of the strategic stormwater drainage system. In fact, in Sept of 2018 the city approved an increase in the monthly stormwater fee (tax). The increase was tagged as raising additional funds for such things as saltwater canal maintenance. We have been paying the stormwater fees for two decades and yet there has never been a line item for canal maintenance. Some have said the canals should be in a special taxing district for the people living in the canals. By this thought pattern should the freshwater canals also be their own taxing district? No, these are city wide issues and be edit all.
    So, is the city is guilty of budgeting, building and maintaining new amenities without thought to the oldest, biggest, most profitable and most enjoyed amenity, the saltwater canals?

  3. bob

    January 20, 2022 at 2:49 pm

    identify & approve canal dredging assessments, dredge the canals after identifying & approving canal assessment projects. let the property owners pay for their amenity. I don’t use the canals, but I do use the roads. the property owners use the roads and they and I pay for the improvement and upkeep — assess, assess, assess

    • TR

      January 20, 2022 at 4:08 pm

      I agree with bob. I don’t use the canals either. I also don’t have any kids in schools nor have I ever but yet I have to pay a school tax because I own a piece of property in PC. It’s just a big scam to have every home owner pay for something to line pockets. Just another way for government to reach in everyone’s pockets. I wish they would wiggle their fingers a bit when they’re in there so at least it would be worth a little. lol

    • The dude

      January 23, 2022 at 7:17 pm

      Those canals are what props your property values up.

      Without the canals, Palm Coast is just a slightly fancier Bunnell.

      • bob

        January 24, 2022 at 4:24 pm

        I’ve been propped at my homesteaded residential property. Back in my purchasing days I DID NOT WANT A CANAL to stick my thumb in and say “how special I am” — besides, no boat storage at the new developments popping up all over town means assessment, assessment, assessment if the canal needs to be dredged for boat floating storage

  4. The dude

    January 24, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    I live on a canal. I don’t feel “special”… what I do feel is crowded and that my neighbors are up my arse.

    However it is nice to sit out back on a nice evening and enjoy the sunset reflecting off the water. And the wife loves it here.

    But all that is beside the point. The canals bring value to you and everyone who lives in this grand HOA called Palm Coast. If they continue to fall into disrepair, everybody’s property values in the city suffer. You may not care much about your property’s value, but a lot of us do.

    • bob

      January 24, 2022 at 7:27 pm

      then you and your wife should pay for “your” sunset reflections, I can’t see them. Now if you and I share the roads and parks for sunset views I’ll be happy to keep paying my taxes.

      • The dude

        January 25, 2022 at 8:02 am

        Those canals were there when you bought your property. They’ve been here since the area was founded.

        You knew this, you bought anyway. Maybe it’s time you consider moving elsewhere.., like Bunnell or something.

        • bob

          January 25, 2022 at 11:43 pm

          the blind can not see, I didn’t want a canal for sunset viewing in private, that’s only for special people —

          • The dude

            January 26, 2022 at 7:54 am

            My apologies. I did not know you were blind and therefore you couldn’t see that the canals were there when you purchased your home in Palm Coast.

            Seems like someone should’ve mentioned it to you since they’ve been there since before the city’s inception, and they’re an integral part of the area… Like the roads and parks, which you also can’t see, but seem to be able to use anyway.

            Again, my apologies for my misunderstanding.

        • bob

          January 26, 2022 at 10:52 am

          I see you can not read or at least NOT UNDERSTAND what you read. Repeat after me, bob did not want to live on a palm coast canal, bob did not want to live on a palm coast canal, bob did not want to live on a palm coast canal. —- canals are for special people like “dude” who wants a special view of sunsets and thoughts he is special because he lives on sometimes stinky water

          • The dude

            January 26, 2022 at 2:49 pm

            I understand completely Bob.

            Bob purchased a home in an area that had certain amenities as a feature which made the area favorable to many many folks.

            Now Bob wants to piss and moan about those amenities because they require upkeep from time to time.

            But until Bob moves to Bunnell, Bob’s insanely high city taxes need to help cover the long overdue maintenance on a city owned and very public amenity that was there when Bob purchased his home originally, and have been there the entire time Bob has lived here.

            Bob is free to make his opinion known with his feet… Bunnell awaits Bob with open arms, surely. I’m sure Bob will fit right in there.

        • bob

          January 26, 2022 at 3:39 pm

          only one pissing and moaning is dude because the rest of us don’t agree on paying for his clean-up of a canal… the only one that’s mentioned moving is dude and he’s done so multiple times, what dude you moving if they set up a taxing district for canal sunset watchers … [I’m not interested in a ruff fish sediment pond in my back yard, is that why you dream about moving]

          • The dude

            January 26, 2022 at 4:11 pm

            Sorry Bob, but those canals belong to the city. The city needs to pay to keep their stuff maintained. That needs to come out the exorbitantly high taxes I already pay to the city. Not some new tax because folks who bought here long ago didn’t bother to do their due diligence before moving here.

        • bob

          January 26, 2022 at 6:57 pm

          I did my due diligence, that’s why I DID NOT purchase a residence on a canal. Oh that’s right the manatee were wiped out in the area so you could watch sunset and look at the back of your neighbors house, good move dude

          emperor has no clothes and no manatee. oh well you and lowe can keep dreaming the other 95% of Palm Coast residents so pay for your clean-up

          • Alan Lowe

            February 8, 2022 at 7:16 am

            Good day Bob. I understand you desire not to pay for maintenance of an amenity that is not in your backyard. I don’t use the bike paths, parks, walking trails, I don’t have children in schools but I am glad these amenities and other programs are here and I have no issue paying for them via my taxes. The freshwater canals, ponds and swales throughout the city require maintenance and I pay taxes into them as well. In fact one of those swales is in your front yard. Some of these swales and freshwater canals drain into the saltwater canals bringing silt and debris into them. If I were to follow your reasoning then should I pay taxes to have the non-saltwater canal amenities such as those I previously mentioned, the stormwater ponds and swales (including the one in your front yard) maintained when I don’t live there and the flooding there doesn’t affect me? Actually they all do affect me by property value and city improvement. You suggest a special taxing district to take care of one amenity, do you feel the same about the neighborhoods with parks and ponds? We are a city and as such we are collectively responsible to maintain city property and amenities and that is why I support the stormwater fees that help protect your yard. I support the fees that maintain our parks and other recreational facilities and I support the maintenance of the saltwater canals. I am also looking at identifying grants and so forth to cover most if not all costs to present to the council. Have a great day Bob amd let’s work together for the betterment of our community.

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