Letter: Schiola: Time To Unincorporate?

The Town of Loxahatchee Groves was founded almost 12 years ago. When the town was incorporated, the people were told that incorporation meant access to money to improve roads and drainage. Horse trails along the canals would separate animals and riders from traffic. There would be limited development along Southern and Okeechobee, and let’s not forget, the chance to govern ourselves for the betterment of the community at large.

In the last 12 years, how has the town progressed? The paved roads have potholes or are in disrepair. The dirt roads that the town is responsible for are only graded once a month, and these roads have not been graded in the last two months. The town just agreed at its last meeting to take over the remaining 10 miles of dirt road from the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District, but also stated that there was no money budgeted to maintain these roads. The roads throughout the town have not been budgeted to be maintained. The roads throughout the town have not been hedged in two years, and with the recent hurricane, this has created more vegetation on the road rights-of-way. Signs are either completely missing or falling into canals. The town has done an about-face on constructing the equestrian trails by stating that the town doesn’t have the money to start, let alone finish the trails.

Due to the recent hurricane, there are piles upon piles of vegetation on every road in Loxahatchee Groves. The town has stated that its debris contractor is not available, but isn’t that the town’s responsibility to secure another contractor? Culvert pipes under F Road and Marcella Blvd. and at C Road and Collecting Canal Road are collapsing. These are just two examples of a growing and expensive problem. The town’s response is either ignore the problem or dump dirt in the hole until the next storm, as the problem worsens.

The town’s code enforcement has gone from complaint driven to proactive code enforcement. That means that the code officer drives around now and looks for code infractions. The town and the water control district just raised taxes, plus the town receives gas tax money and the one-cent sales tax increase voted on last year to improve our infrastructure.

Most of our tax money goes to pay for professional services like the town manager and his management company, the town code enforcement (also owned and managed by the town manager), engineering and surveying firms, the town law firm and the town planner. Paying all these professionals leaves little tax dollars to maintain and improve our infrastructure.

Mayor Dave Browning and most of the town council thinks that the town is running and looking good. So, it’s time to add this up. Paved roads are in disrepair. Dirt roads aren’t being graded. The vegetation isn’t getting moved. The roads aren’t being hedged. Signs are missing or falling into the canals. Code enforcement is out looking to catch you, and the trails have set with the sun in the west.

Now, I ask you again, in the last 12 years, how has the town progressed? How has the Town of Loxahatchee Groves improved you and your family’s quality of life? Deep down, we all know the answer to these questions. I voted for incorporation, but seeing this town’s infrastructure deteriorate over the years, and the broken promise of equestrian trails, maybe it’s time to say we tried, but just couldn’t make it work. Maybe it’s time to unincorporate.

Frank Schiola, Loxahatchee Groves

Editor’s note: Mr. Schiola is a former member of the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District Board of Supervisors.