County Endorses Loxahatchee Groves Funding Request For Roundabout

The Palm Beach County Commission on Tuesday, April 30 approved an application to the Palm Beach County Transportation Planning Agency for a roundabout at Folsom Road and Okeechobee Blvd. that would be compatible with a possible future four-lane road westward through the Town of Loxahatchee Groves.

Commissioners also approved a resolution supporting funding through the TPA for a signalized multi-use pedestrian and equestrian trail within the Okeechobee Blvd. right of way and along F Road, contingent upon the town and the county approving an interlocal agreement.

Although the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council has asked the county for a roundabout, it has consistently opposed four lanes for Okeechobee Blvd. So far, the county has recognized the desires of town officials, but it retains ultimate control of the road, although the town has traffic control and recently enacted a lower speed limit there.

The roundabout would be in front of the 10-acre Day property east of Red Barn, which has approval for a low-density commercial project approved after the Day family filed a lawsuit against the town. The council at the time initially refused to approve commercial there.

Palm Beach County Engineer David Ricks said the two resolutions would allow a grant to Loxahatchee Groves through the TPA.

The resolutions comply with requirements that a resolution be approved for federally funded projects to establish local agencies’ commitment to construction, operation and maintenance of a project. Since Palm Beach County is the certified agency for the program, the town has requested the county’s endorsement of the projects.

The required interlocal agreements will note the responsibilities and requirements of both the town and the county with respect to the projects, including the town’s commitment to pay for the county’s costs and any overruns, the town’s ownership of the project improvements on F Road, and the county’s right to terminate the interlocal agreement.

Upon termination, if the county is required to return any program funds, the town agrees to fully reimburse the county. The interlocal agreements will also commit the town to maintaining the projects after construction is complete, except for the roundabout, which will be maintained by the county.

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay asked about a reference in the staff summary to the county’s right to terminate the interlocal agreement for any reason.

“Is it really for any reason or is it more tailored than that?” McKinlay asked.

“If there is a need to expand the roadway long-term, the board has to do that,” Ricks explained. “We would look to terminate the agreement.”

“Can we make sure that is laid out?” McKinlay asked. “When I see ‘for any reason,’ that could be the wind blew in a different direction tomorrow.”

County Administrator Verdenia Baker said the wording is standard language for resolutions.

“We are very clear that we cannot be arbitrary and capricious in terminating these agreements, but that is normal language,” Baker said. “We will continue to work with Loxahatchee Groves on this particular issue.”

McKinlay made a motion to approve the two resolutions, which carried 6-0 with County Commissioner Robert Weinroth absent.