As the First Step Shelter nears completion, Daytona Beach City Commissioners expressed concerns with their relationship with the center's board of directors, of which Mayor Derrick Henry is a member.
Commissioner Aaron Delgado said Aug. 7, “I am worried about the perceived schism there. I don’t like the perception that we are at odds with them as we are all moving towards the same goal. I hope political infighting doesn’t detract from what we have all been devoting many, many years doing. We are so close to the finish line.”
Mayor Derrick Henry said, “We have a contingency plan in place should this board fail to be able to deliver when it’s time to open up. I believe the board will be able to deliver with the assistance of Catholic Charities a project that we all can be proud of and engaged in. We are going to continue and persevere and I think it will happen.”
One bone of contention is the concept of a safe zone, it's name and whether it should be on the shelter grounds.
First Step will have an intake area inside the shelter, but concerns surround whether anyone in any condition (high on drugs or alcohol, for example) can stay indefinitely outside the shelter, especially if they have no intention of receiving services, but are merely looking for a place to stay.
The city owns the land, but the First Step Board of Directors along with Catholic Charities will run the shelter and oversee policies, which may allow for a safe zone.
Commissioner Rob Gilliland was adamant that First Step not have a safe zone on the property, calling it a “terrible idea.”
He was concerned it would draw homeless people from throughout central Florida that had no intention of getting any help from the shelter. “What happens outside the facility is what I am taking issue with,” he said.
Mayor Henry stated policies and rules, such as defining a safe zone, still need to be developed.
In trying to determine if there will be a safe zone at First Step, among other concerns, commissioners agreed to set up an immediate joint meeting with the First Step board.
In other business in the Aug. 7 meeting, commissioners were concerned about the amount of money paid for two lawsuits against the city.
“We proudly shine a light on the things that are good, and there are a lot of good things going on, but we need to shine a light on the some of the ugly stuff, too,” Commissioner Paula Reed said. “Our employees, our staff, need to come to a place where they feel comfortable, where they can do their jobs, where they are excited about doing their jobs, and they provide for us and for our citizens the best possible skills and talents that they have.”
Improved training and retraining were discussed as a deterrent for future lawsuits and to make the city a better employer.
Also in the meeting, commissioners approved initially a request to rezone 22.7 acres of land on the north side of LPGA Boulevard and west of Grand Preserve Way from Volusia County zoning to city planned development for a 336-unit multifamily complex. There was discussion about the height of the proposed buildings, which will be 60 feet as compared to the 35 feet now allowed. One reason given was more greenspace would be present with a taller building.
Also, it was announced B.Braun, a medical and pharmaceutical device company, will invest $100 million more in its operations in Daytona Beach, creating 100 more jobs.