Photo: David Tucker, The Daytona Beach News Journal

“The last of nearly a dozen billboards that Palm Coast developer pledged to remove when he purchased them more than three years ago came tumbling down piece by piece on Monday…

Jim Cullis, president of Grand Living Realty, came out to watch as demolition crews dismantled the over-sized display board just east of the Hammock Dunes Bridge overpass along State Road A1A, also called Ocean Shore Boulevard. He was joined by county officials and members of several local organizations that are dedicated to conserving the natural beauty of the historic scenic roadway.

‘It’s the end of a three-year effort to work with the Friends of A1A and the (Hammock) Conservancy and the county to beautify scenic A1A,’ Cullis said. “We struck this arrangement three years ago, and it’s gone by pretty quickly. There were a total of 11 boards involved in this arrangement, and now they’re all gone.’

The signs were part of a collection of 14 billboards that included three on Interstate 95. Cullis said he bought the boards from a developer in Hammock Dunes for $213,000 in June 2013. Four months later, he sold eight of them to the county for $80,000, and officials demolished two other full-sized billboards on S.R. A1A as part of that deal. He said the Hammock Dunes Association purchased another sign from him and destroyed it last summer.

County officials agreed to allow Cullis to continue leasing the billboards for three years in exchange for him selling them at a cheaper rate. The pact called for him to tear them all down by the end of this month.

The one ripped down Monday was a two-sided display board advertising Coldwell Banker on one side and Bellagio Custom Homes on the other. Cullis said it was among the largest signs in the group and accounted for two billboards coming down because it was double-sided. Cullis said there are now 24 left standing along S.R. A1A, and county officials said the goal is to one day remove them all.

‘It’s a scenic byway, so we’re trying to keep up the way it was,’ said Commissioner Greg Hansen, who was on hand to watch as workers began dismantling the sign Monday. ‘We want it to be as natural as it can be.’

Fellow Commissioner David Sullivan was also on hand and echoed Hansen’s sentiments.

‘The deal is it beautifies the road,’ he said. ‘We don’t have the eye sore, and that’s what we’re trying to do — make A1A as beautiful a road as it can possibly be…’

‘Everybody has wanted this, and Jim (Cullis) has made that possible,’ said Marge Rooyakkers, president of the Hammock Community Association and Hammock Conservancy. ‘All our advertising will be done electronically now. All the millennials and young folk are on their cell phones, all on their computers. They just don’t need this anymore…’

Dennis Clark, a member of Scenic A1A Pride, the Flagler chapter of the Friends of A1A group, estimated the billboards have been a staple on the road for about 30 years.

‘It’s a huge improvement,’ he said. ‘We’ve been working to do this for probably 14, or 15 years. It was finally possible with Jim Cullis allowing us to do it. So this is fantastic as an improvement and a beautification.'”

— Matt Bruce, The Daytona Beach News Journal

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