Focus For ITID In 2014 Is Drainage, Completing Projects

Indian Trail Improvement District President Carol Jacobs’ primary objectives for 2014 are to get amenities at the expansion of Acreage Community Park finished and start work on necessary drainage projects.

In August, the ITID board scrapped plans for a $3.7 million community center at the park in favor of less expensive outdoor amenities, many of which could be done in-house, and to focus more on drainage projects.

“I’m hoping for a June completion, and that includes two fields, lights and the Garden of Hope,” said Jacobs, who took over as ITID president last month. “We are going to try to fit in as much as we can with the amount of money that we have, but the community park, now handling all the girls soccer and flag football, is exploding.”

Jacobs said the programs need more space, and field lights will make them more useful. “Right now there’s a temporary field where they practice during the day, but they really need some bathrooms,” she added.

Meanwhile, Jacobs said that she had hoped the Hamlin House reconstruction project adjacent to Nicole Hornstein Equestrian Park would be done by the end of 2013, but it ran into permitting problems, so completing that project is another top goal for 2014. Using the house as a community meeting space will allow for some of the programs that would have been housed at the postponed community center.

“We would like to have a grand opening with all the different groups, such as the Acreage Horseman’s Association, the Acreage Landowners’ Association, the Acreage Athletic League,” Jacobs said.

Hoefl Park is also planned for renovation, and has playground equipment scheduled for replacement.

“I’m also hoping to get to some roads that need to be fixed,” Jacobs said. “I’m hoping that we get a good start.”

With newly hired engineer and hydrologist Jay Foy on board, Jacobs expects that 2014 will be the year that ITID gets a good start on needed drainage improvements. She hopes to get a five-year plan in place for comprehensive drainage improvements, canal cleanup and maintenance. “It has been neglected,” Jacobs said.

She also hopes to build any sidewalks that are missing on paved roads. “I plan to move ahead on stuff that has been hanging around with no direction,” Jacobs said.

Another focus for ITID will be to work with developers to limit the size and scope of the Minto West project as much as possible, Jacobs said. The site, formerly Callery-Judge Grove, already has approval for 3,000 homes and some commercial.

“I’m not for any kind of building out here, but they have been approved, and they bought the property,” she said. “They are asking for more, which I don’t approve of, but we need to work with them in a way that they don’t just put up a brick wall… You always get more if you work with someone than if you don’t.”

For example, Minto can help with improving Acreage roads that ITID would otherwise have to pay for.

Jacobs would also like to see the completion of “Welcome to The Acreage” entrance signs, which have been under discussion for the past six years, and the reinstitution of an organized and efficient system of in-house mowing.

She would like to purchase more equipment to enable additional in-house work. “In the long run, when you’re paying contractors, they kind of have you in their grip, when we have a full crew,” Jacobs said. “We have more than 70 employees, and they can be trained. If we buy the pieces of equipment, we can get a lot more done.”

For example, Jacobs said the district needs two more dump trucks for in-house earth moving, pointing out that they would pay for themselves in the costs saved by not paying contractors.

“If we get the different equipment we need, we will save money,” she said. “You either pay in payroll or pay the contractor, but right now we’re paying contractors, and we still have a high payroll.”

Jacobs said ITID will continue to push for the State Road 7 extension to Northlake Blvd. “That has to get through [regardless of] whether there is any more development at all,” she said, explaining that the county is currently constructing the SR 7 extension to 60th Street, which will relieve traffic on Orange Grove and Persimmon boulevards.

Ultimately, SR 7 extension has to go to Northlake Blvd., she said, explaining that Ibis Golf & Country Club residents, who oppose the extension, are currently using Acreage roads when travelling south.

“I plan to be a very active president,” Jacobs said. “I never wanted the position, but when it was given to me, I thought, ‘It’s my time now to take it. Everybody else works.’ I work, too, but I have more free time, so I plan to be very active.”