Flagler News Weekly welcomes Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland as our first In A Minute guest to share her thoughts on “The Big Five”.
- It was a tough election. How wonderful was it to know that voters continue to maintain confidence in your leadership and vision as Mayor of Flagler’s largest city?
Receiving the continued support of my Palm Coast constituents in the 2020 election has meant everything to me. My government leadership journey in Palm Coast was always fueled by my passion for this City – its peace and the graceful preservation of our beauty and the caring people who’ve been proud to call this community home. These ideals most certainly resonated with our community.
What has inspired people most to want to live, work and play in Palm Coast has inspired me to lead us now and into our future. By re-electing me as Mayor, I’m honored that our residents have the confidence in me to maintain the high quality of life they expect in our community while managing growth for our future generations. The decisions we make to support our natural resources and quality of life amenities contribute to the well-being for everyone. I believe community-wide involvement is needed to help reach this goal. Citizen, business and government leaders all have important contributions to make together. It’s my goal to continue work with great intensity to maintain the trust and confidence Palm Coast has placed in me.
- The City of Palm Coast continues to wow the region with new developments in regards to MedNexus. What do you think is the catalyst for these advancements?
When the University of North Florida stepped forward to create a Medical MedNexus for medical education in our Town Center, they opened the door to Palm Coast’s transformation for growing economic and job opportunities. UNF’s innovative education channel will provide a pipeline for our own local students from Flagler Palm Coast High School and Daytona State College who plan to pursue a medical career, stay here in Palm Coast for a Master’s degree in nursing, medical technology and therapy. A few months ago, Jacksonville University added their commitment to Palm Coast, planning for a second campus site in Town Center to offer advanced medical degree programs in speech pathology, mental health counseling and nursing. The emergence of both universities, as prominent occupants in Town Center, spotlights the future growth of the healthcare industry in Palm Coast. Students will want to stay here to learn, work and eventually raise their families. Here.
We also recently announced that AdventHealth Systems will be adding a second hospital in Palm Coast – a 100-bed facility located on Palm Coast Parkway NW. Hundreds of new jobs will be made available here, just in time to hire the newly graduating students from our medical ecosystem in Town Center.
The catalyst for this transformation is the essence of our fruitful, rewarding connections to our government, healthcare and educational partners. The collaboration of these leaders are setting the stage to ensure the growth and future prosperity and well-being for Palm Coast. As part of this whole, we are all stronger.
- Town Center is also on an upward trajectory. What are some of the most remarkable plans in the works that people may not yet know about or haven’t really been lauded as they could be?
Seventeen years ago, infrastructure was created across 1,600 acres in Palm Coast for what was to be deemed as our Town Center. We crafted our own urban-like center as a cornerstone for connecting residents to growth and development in every core of our community. Town Center would be a great place for families and friends to walk, bike, dine and work as we establish educational, recreational, residential, retail and commercial enterprises in the area.
The property sat idle for several years, due to the nationwide mass economic meltdown. Four years ago, City Council revived plans for Town Center by creating an Innovation District within its boundaries to return to a plan for the vibrant downtown areas that residents expect and deserve.
Moving on from the aforementioned UNF MedNexus and Jacksonville University healthcare institutions, our newest plan for Town Center launched an Arts District that will become a vibrant collaboration of artists, actors and entertainers, integrating creativity and cultural activity in a defined area. Cultural arts simply magnetize people: the captivating charm of live exhibits, music and plays are our refuge, a soothing solution to the conflicts of everyday life. They draw youngsters, teens, adults and seniors from all backgrounds and all upbringings. The dedication and passion of our partnerships with organizations like the Palm Coast Arts Foundation, Flagler Playhouse, the Gargiulo Foundation, the Flagler Auditorium and Performing Arts Center, Community Repertory Theatre, Salvo Art Gallery and the Flagler Arts League have helped to broaden our community’s access to the Arts. Now we’ll all have one main nucleus in which to provide a cultural arts destination. And its proximity to the UNF MedNexus and Jacksonville University, medical projects support this entire area becoming a specified hub of educational and cultural inspiration. Following the Arts District, a brand new Entertainment District is being proposed to include additional restaurant and shopping opportunities. People will have more places to spend their dollars right here in Palm Coast, returning tax revenues back to us to improve infrastructure and create new amenities. As you can see, all of this new development will distinguish Town Center as the core for Palm Coast’s future economic and lifestyle visualization.
- You’ve managed to juggle COVID in the community, your daughter’s care, tremendous milestones with MedNexus and an election, all in a single year. What have you learned about yourself during this time?
My answer to this question is simple: I’ve learned that every challenge I’ve faced is not about me: it’s all about my collaborators, colleagues, teammates and partners. It goes back to my answer in question #2. No man is an island. We need to rely on one another for ideas, plans, strength, passion – for life. For myself this year, it was the units of people that surrounded me with compassion, sensitivity and knowledge. Whether it was doctors, nurses, City Council, emergency management officials, our government and educational partners and – most of all – my loving family and friends……..positive outcomes were achieved by people around me, all working together. It’s the only way we can successfully live, laugh and love.
- What are the top three goals you hope to accomplish in your second term?
During this next Mayoral term, I have several goals in mind:
1 – I plan to finalize all of our relationship alignments that we’ve created for Town Center, specifically addressing our continued medical, technological and innovative strategies.
2 – Public Safety has been, and always will be, one of my main focuses. I consistently hear from constituents and read in our local surveys that the beauty and safety in our community are the main motivations for residents choosing to move to Palm Coast. Boston Whaler chose our City as its boat manufacturing facility location because they appreciate the solid alliances we’ve upheld and the quality of life they’ve experienced here. They know they’ll be able to draw a quality workforce that understands the value of living in a beautiful, safe community.
Public Safety measures we are paying close attention to include adding more streetlights and sidewalks to surveyed areas, working closely with our Fire Department to provide them with everything they need to keep us safe and also operating in close conjunction with our County law enforcement partners to ensure we have enough officers on our streets to meet the increasing needs of a growing population.
3 – Continued investment in upgrading Palm Coast’s infrastructure, while balancing our fiscal responsibility to our residents, is an obligation I take very seriously. Our newly adopted stormwater infrastructure master plan takes a big-picture look at all of our swales, ditches, canals, water control structures, pipes and drainage basins and how they work together to protect structures from flooding. Strategies adopt the newest technology and engineering resources for areas that affect the most homes.
Maintaining and upgrading our roadways for traffic flow and safety will always remain a priority, as will water and wastewater treatment improvements. We have over 500 City employees now, each and every one working hard to ensure our services are delivered with the utmost professional care and modernizations. I could never do my job competently without the skilled, proficient and attentive staff that is working for all of our citizens.