From now until the Aug. 30 primary election, the Town-Crier will ask questions each issue to the seven people running for two seats on the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors. This week’s questions: What are your thoughts on road paving in The Acreage? What criteria would you use in deciding which roads need to be improved? How should such projects be funded?
ITID SEAT 2
Ryan Bernal — ITID residents should maintain the right to have their unpaved road paved given a consensus to do so. The paving of dirt roads should be funded through assessments charged to those who reside on the road and would benefit from the improvements. A common-sense approach is to prioritize maintaining dirt roads by the criteria of the frequency of complaints and visible unsuitableness.
ITID is due to begin repaving many of the existing main paved roads for regeneration. Since these roads are used by many more residents to access the main corridors like Seminole Pratt Whitney Road and State Road 7, then the funding should be spread out more equitably throughout the community.
I would push for ITID to strictly adhere to a capital management program whereby capital assets are put on a strict funding and replacement schedule to maximize their usefulness while monitoring and minimizing the associated repair and maintenance cost. Additionally, capital assets like roads, equipment, vehicles etc. should be matched with funding sources that will be paid over a time period that is parallel to their useful lives.
These are technical financial administrative best practices that I am highly familiar with, which maximize the financial resources along with the usefulness of the entity’s capital assets while ensuring those who receive the benefit of the services provided by the entity are the ones who pay the taxes to fund it. Today’s taxpayers should not finance the operations to benefit future taxpayers.
Gary Dunkley — Paving in The Acreage has always been a challenge. Most who moved out here knew we had dirt roads. For decades, the Indian Trail Improvement District has relied on shell rock, which in the past was sufficient, with low dust and long-term stabilization. The sources of the good grade rock have dried up. The major complaint is the dust on landowners’ health. The alternatives have been a failure. Extreme dust has been a problem since Isaac.
I worked with ITID staff and engineering to come up with a road stabilization policy with several options, and we continue looking for the right balance, which seems to be elusive with board members who rarely agree on what is best for our constituents. Costs have risen, and we no longer have the county’s MSTU road program, where the county picked up half of the cost of paving for ITID residents. ITID did a bond, which was to pave heavily traveled, long stretches of road which connected to the short neighborhood roads and everyone was supposed to be within a half mile of pavement. This was one of the failures, since most of the R2 bond money went toward paving the roads which will now help large landowners’ future development, not necessarily ITID residents.
Our residents should be the ones who choose whether their road is paved. I want to encourage several different ways in which we continue to service the area and strike a balance where all residents’ needs are met. As an ITID board member, I want to help keep costs in check and find funding that is fair and equitable to all residents. I want the developers to pay their fair share for roads that our residents have been paying the maintenance on for decades.
Steve Roberts — My response to the question regarding the roads being paved in The Acreage is an easy one. We bought our home out here and wanted to be on a paved road, but we love the fact that any given day when we are driving around, we can see the neighbors riding their horses and families on golf carts just moving along. We live in an equestrian community, and I, for one, would not want to take anything away from that.
We have developments that are building all around us and with that will be higher traffic — more traffic than what our roads were designed for. That being the case, I think we should be working with the developers to pay for the additional maintenance and upgrades on the impacted roads. I do not feel paving additional roads is needed and by doing so takes even more away from the equestrian community. Having the roads that are currently paved and properly maintained allows for the diversity of our community. Dirt roads are not for everyone, but neither are paved.
Timothy Sayre — I believe that the majority of the roads that have been paved should meet the overwhelming needs of our residents. There are a few major roads that may need further stabilization or paving, but each should be approached with a look at: Why? How will it impact those living on it? How will it impact those that will use it? Will it increase the use of the road and thus present other problems? Each road needs to be approached independently and not as a “let’s just pave it and be done with it” attitude.
Any road that may need to be improved, which may mean that the existing dirt road is not holding up, needs to be evaluated to see if we can just make changes that will stabilize it while maintaining it as a dirt road. We need to make sure we are using the proper types of underlayment (road bed) and using types of topping that will hold up to use and not wash out, while also being safe for our community.
Projects that improve the overall roads for all those in The Acreage should come out of the general ITID fund, while seeking the county and state matches that we are entitled to, while also minimizing any impact on the taxes that will need to be collected for such projects.
ITID needs to push for a designation of a traffic backlog district so that future property value increases are used in our area to help alleviate the cost of new and improved road structures, not just property value increases in The Acreage, but also the newly incorporated City of Westlake, Avenir (yes, they will impact our roads), and any and all future homes in our area or surrounding our area, including, but not limited, to G.L. Homes, Iota, etc.
ITID SEAT 4
Betty Argue — We are an equestrian and agricultural residential community. Dirt roads are part of our community identity. They also are their own traffic-calming measure. Many of the paved roads in The Acreage already need repairs and the shoulders of the roads require being built up. The focus of the district regarding roads should be on a prioritized list of paved roads that have the greatest impact of traffic in our community. These roads should be evaluated to consider whether repairs are sufficient or whether they require reconstruction to a higher standard.
With increased development approvals surrounding our community and the potential for cut-through traffic, it is vital to consider development impact on our roads and not to just spend money improving roads, paving more roads and adding traffic calming on paved roads. Such measures will not keep outside development traffic off our residential roads, which are built and maintained on behalf of our residents. This will only lead to more traffic, speeding, increased taxes and, more importantly, impact the safety and security of our residents.
ITID needs a comprehensive roads plan that will properly address these issues and meet the needs of our residents while protecting the assets of the district. I propose a series of public workshops wherein the residents from all parts of the district participate in drafting a comprehensive roads plan by bringing their concerns, ideas, wants, needs and vision for our community to the discussion. After all, it is our community, and decisions made should reflect what our residents want.
Michelle Damone — In developing a districtwide road paving plan, it would require for a new R3 plan to be developed, as we are a benefit assessment district and must be able to prove the benefit to each active unit so it would be assessed the cost of the paving. There are a few links missing on the main “named roads,” and the R3 plan could address this.
I personally do not think that now is the time for this plan. As developments submit their plans to Palm Beach County for approval, it is our professional team’s responsibility to determine which of our roads will be impacted the most and have the developers pay for those impacts and for any improvements or traffic calming necessary.
With over 389 miles in dirt roads throughout the district, it would be expensive to pave them all, and I don’t believe it’s the desire by the majority to have them paved. I recognize that our most recent graduates from Seminole Ridge High School often have on their vehicles “Lox Life” and “Raised on a Dirt Road.” I respect their sentiment.
For those residents who prefer their internal road to be paved, there is an existing program. The request requires 50 percent plus 1 of the property owners on that street to agree and that they will absorb the cost. The county offers funding through the MSTU program to offset the cost, but that funding is available only once a year.
I have enjoyed my dirt road in front of my house. My daughter had a few less skinned knees as she learned how to ride her bike. I also like that my named road is paved next to my house so that on those wet summer days, it’s a little easier to get to work.
Keith Jordano — Once elected, I would like to review road paving plans with the residents, engineers and staff to see what roads need improving and paving. Based on the new development, we need to work with them, county, state and federal officials to get funds for all road improvements, upgrades and new roads.
Residents should decide if they wish their roads paved or just improved. The funds need to come from ITID’s budget, as that is what they were chartered to do. Also, we need the new developments, county and state to help, since we have been neglected for way too long.