On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Palm Beach County Commission voted to sell the Mecca Farms property to the South Florida Water Management District. The bad thing is that this includes the Seminole Pratt Whitney Road right of way. People who used to enter the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area from The Acreage will now have to travel to the northern entrance on Indiantown Road, which is a difference of nearly 30 miles. People who wanted Seminole Pratt extended to the Beeline Highway have now literally lost ground. Monday, Seminole Pratt went all the way to Youth Ranch Road near the Southern Corbett entrance. Today it is two miles short of that and will be barricaded once the sale is complete.
The land steal does include a provision for the county to “buy back” the right of way, but this is the stupidest thing I have heard of in a while. Why sell something to just buy it back? The answer: the county doesn’t plan to buy it back. They have no plans to complete Seminole Pratt. In a few years, what is now Seminole Pratt will be 50 feet underwater. Would the county really consider buying that back? Not completing Seminole Pratt is a big screw into the heart of The Acreage. Except for this missing link, Seminole Pratt goes all the way up to Stuart and terminates into Route 76. Why not make solidifying the missing link part of the deal?
There were a few alternatives mentioned. Instead of taking the logical straight-through approach, the county said that they would consider running Seminole Pratt (which heads north) east along the southern border, and then north on the eastern border of Mecca Farms, and then connect to Youth Ranch Road and then out to the Beeline. This sounds plausible, except for the fact that the South Florida Water Management District has already stated that Youth Ranch Road will not be opened for automotive traffic under any circumstances. Not to mention the fact that the folks living in The Acreage just south of Mecca Farms will not appreciate all the extra traffic noise.
Another proposed route was to simply cut through the Vavrus Ranch property and essentially connect Coconut Blvd. to the Beeline instead. However, this isn’t going to work either, because the railroad won’t allow a crossing just anywhere. The existing crossings are pretty much all there will ever be. Plus, there are environmental concerns with this route that aren’t a factor for the straight-line route.
No matter how you slice it, anything other than the straight-line route will cost significantly more to build, and as such, probably won’t be built. We were promised that the missing link of Seminole Pratt would be completed over 60 years ago. With the SFWMD owning a big chunk of property in the way, it’s likely that it still won’t be built in another 60 years, and Acreage residents will once again get the short stick.
Dennis Hawkins, The Acreage