The Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District/Loxahatchee Groves Town Council workshop on equestrian/recreational trails scheduled for May 19 at 6 p.m. will challenge the council’s effort to secure the benefits of self-determination per the town charter. In this case, the benefit is the finish line of a 22-year-old citizens’ campaign for trails.
Vice Mayor Ron Jarriel touted in the last council session how the A Road and 161st trail will be the best trail in town… The flip side is the new LGWCD signage at A Road and 161st which reads, “Warning. Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District. This is a restricted canal maintenance access road not intended for public use.” Interestingly enough, the signage does not include the state statute that allows the LGWCD to deny public access.
Loxahatchee Groves’ future relies on the town charter’s mission statement of self-determination, not the determination of the LGWCD. The town’s equestrian/recreational trails future is being determined by LGWCD supervisors John Ryan, Frank Schiola, Don Widing, Robert Snowball and David DeMarois, not the town council. A LGWCD supervisor has commented, “It’s not the board of supervisors, not town council, it’s the state legislation.”
The council could challenge the LGWCD to revise its special act for trails as state legislation directs what the LGWCD can do.
Council comments have expressed disappointment in the LGWCD: “We have to have these easements and permits and all that it is very convenient, but it is very convenient in the LGWCD favor and they were the ones who were supposed to do the law change just like the other one which would have said that the LGWCD would turn the trails over to us. Yet they didn’t.” Revision of the trail legislation to allow the town to have site control would exonerate the LGWCD.
Another challenge is the “right and proper” map of the trail network. The Calvin Giordano MREG plan of March 2009 proposed trails on North Road, Sixth Court, F Road and B Road. The citizens’ committee, RETGAC, since 2011 has recommended to the council, trails on all letter roads, North Road, and Sixth Court. The LGWCD proposed trail map is significantly less with gaps in the trail routes.
Last week’s council meeting revealed “there are no trails south of Collecting Canal” located on the LGWCD map. In response, LGWCD Supervisor John Ryan stated, “Whatever the town wants surveyed and maps recorded with regard to maintenance roads are fully available for permits.” Apparently, Supervisor Ryan has not seen the new LGWCD signage at A Road and 161st.
I invite all citizens of the Groves to attend the trails workshop on May 19 at 6 p.m. Casting your vote in June’s LGWCD’s supervisor “popular vote” election is your starting gate to self determination.
Keith Harris, Loxahatchee Groves