For the last several weeks, the Town-Crier has been asking questions to the seven people running for two seats on the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors in the Tuesday, Aug. 30 primary election. This week’s questions are: How would you characterize the Indian Trail Improvement District’s recreation policy? Does more or less money need to be spent on parks? Should ITID run its own recreation programs or should all recreation programs be run through outside service providers?
ITID SEAT 2
Ryan Bernal — ITID’s recreation policy is a case of a few successes mixed among many failures. I have spent the majority of my life using recreational facilities and know very well what a successful program looks like. I played baseball for Western Pines Middle School (and won our first and only county championship in 2001), Wellington High School, Florida Atlantic University and professionally for the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Some of ITID’s recreational facilities and some of its programs are uncompetitive and not improving. To ITID’s defense, the tax base needed to build and maintain competitive athletic facilities isn’t feasible with current ITID tax rates and the higher degree of importance of its other statutorily mandated services of drainage and roads. The county and the Village of Wellington have much larger and deeper tax bases than ITID and can afford to fund their recreation programs at much higher levels, getting what they pay for.
ITID needs to concentrate its recreation policy. Our community is known for football and equestrian activities. Instead of wasting money on a dog park in The Acreage or on baseball fields where most of the kids end up leaving the program for more competitive leagues, the funding and efforts of ITID should be concentrated to maximize utility. Nine parks being managed on limited and dispersed funding is not as effective as half the parks being funded with more money per park. What the area wants are quality services provided for their money and not a high volume of below-par products.
Gary Dunkley — How would you characterize the Indian Trail Improvement District’s recreation policy? Reevaluate and improve.
Does more or less money need to be spent on parks? Less.
Should ITID run its own recreation programs or should all recreation programs be run through outside service providers? Outside services.
Steve Roberts — I have noticed that the Indian Trail Improvement District has a wide variety of recreational services, from the equestrian parks to the dog park and the community park. I am a firm believer that these parks are invaluable to our community for the events that are planned and the sports programs for the kids. I do not think we need to spend less money on them, but do feel that we should continue to utilize any and all grants available to help in maintaining them. The community park expansion, though, has taken entirely too long and must be finished as soon as possible. I do not feel that ITID needs to use additional service providers at this time, but if there is a more cost-effective way to run the recreation programs, I will always be open to suggestions for the betterment of the community.
Timothy Sayre — The Acreage has a very good park system that functions very well with the AAL, AHA, ALA and other groups putting on organized sporting events, horse competitions and community jams, to name a few. The current system seems to be working very well, and while some adjustments may be needed from time to time, overall it is a benefit to everyone that these volunteer-run groups are in charge of these events and programs.
Maintenance is a constant ongoing expense. We do need to spend money on parks to properly maintain them and keep them from deteriorating. We also need to be aware of how that money is spent and if it is being spent wisely and on quality products and services. The cheapest is not always the best when it comes to equipment; sometimes quality is a little more cost but gives a much longer useful lifespan. Another area of concern is horse trails. They need to be included in the budget and provided and improved, as we are an equestrian community. We also need to make sure we continue to apply for every grant, matching fund, corporate donation, etc. that is available to offset the expense to our taxpayers.
Should ITID run its own recreation programs? The short, simple answer is no. ITID should not change how it is currently handling the recreation programs. Agreements with the AAL, AHA, ALA, etc. should be maintained, as the present programs that are in place now seem to be working well for our residents.
ITID SEAT 4
Betty Argue — Parks and recreation are great assets in our family-oriented community. The recreation programs offered by the Acreage Athletic League and the Acreage Horseman’s Association provide our families with opportunities for recreational and competitive sports. The Acreage Landowners’ Association offers community events such as the music jam. ITID supports all of the service providers with maintained facilities to run successful programs. I am in favor of continuing to provide support for service providers that enhance our recreation programs. The community park expansion should be completed with a watchful eye on the costs and the progress, to ensure completion in a timely, cost-effective fashion.
Hamlin House has become a gem for private groups, families and nonprofit organizations to host events. It serves our community well as a center for all. The community gardening program is a way to bring residents together to learn how to effectively grow our own food, encouraging the agricultural aspect of our community.
The equestrian trails require improvement through developing more trails and connectivity throughout ITID and the surrounding communities. Since we are an equestrian community, we need to increase signs throughout the district to create awareness, educate our residents and visitors, and make it safer for residents to ride their horses. Nicole Hornstein Equestrian Park should be improved and maintained with appropriate footing in arenas that is safe for our riders. A long-term goal to improve the equestrian park would include a covered arena. Many of our parks require more shade, and athletic fields need shade structures.
I am the most qualified person for Seat 4, bringing a fresh perspective to meet the ambitious goals of balancing the needs of our community, preserving our rural agricultural and equestrian lifestyles, and protecting against the impact of outside developments.
Michelle Damone — The Indian Trail Improvement District should commit to completing the expansion of Acreage Community Park. It has $1.55 million in grants and has more than $3 million saved for capital improvements. Once the expansion is completed, our park system should be complete until the community decides on a permanent community center. Maybe, at that time, ITID could consider its own recreation department. Otherwise, we need to update our existing neighborhood parks based on a timely capital improvement plan within the budget.
The Acreage Athletic League, AYSO and the Acreage Horseman’s Association have all done a great job of providing recreational programs for our residents. I’m proud of each of those organizations.
I still try to vision for current trends and needs for our community to provide healthy activities for all ages, so that our community has a healthy environment to play and be creative. Parks are nine percent of the overall budget and are a vital component to the success of our community.
Keith Jordano — ITID has a good policy, and it is being run by people who are involved and care about our children and our horses. They have good programs and management. We do need more programs for all our residents. Not all of them have children or horses, and some are elderly and shut-ins, so they need activities as well. We should do all that is possible to complete the community park, as well as do upgrades and better maintenance. One park does not even have bathroom facilities. Whereas people from all over the county use our parks, we need to seek funding and grants from the county, state and federal governments. Also, with all the business in West Palm Beach and the new spring training facility, we need to get sponsorship dollars. Bring our tax dollars back and stop wasting them.