The Indian Trail Improvement District has a full plate of goals for 2020, including an increased effort at road and culvert improvements that was put into motion in 2019.
“We’re going to be focused on improving the district’s operations overall,” ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson told the Town-Crier on Monday. “The first item will be to implement that third culvert crew and get those positions hired as quickly as possible and the equipment out on the street. We want to focus on improving the infrastructure of not only the culverts, but also the roads with traffic calming.”
ITID is also involved with a Florida Department of Transportation traffic-calming project that will be starting in 2020. “So, we will be working in coordination with FDOT on that,” Hanson said.
The district will also re-orient its recreation department to be more focused on recreation programming for the community.
“We’re hoping that a group of equestrians in the community will be able to put together what they call WEST, which is the Western Equestrians Show & Trail organization,” he said.
Hanson explained that WEST would be a private service provider supporting projects in The Acreage. “Our goal would be to work with them to get the equestrian trails and Nicole Hornstein Equestrian Park up to better standards, so equestrians can use not only the trails, but also be able to better utilize the equestrian park, the arenas and try to coordinate with them for shows and clinics, and some level of horse programming there,” he said.
The district also plans to open up its M-1 impoundment area for fishing on a more regular basis.
“Last November, over Thanksgiving weekend, we opened up the M-2. It was kind of a trial run because we’re going to open up the M-1 impoundment for recreational fishing, catch and release, and then once we have an established program, we’re hoping that we can coordinate with other organizations to put on a tournament there,” Hanson explained.
He added that ITID also hopes to coordinate with the nearby J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area to put on nature-related programming.
Another key initiative will be ITID working with the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council on the district’s master plan.
“Part of that also ties into pedestrian, bicyclist and equestrian trails as well,” Hanson said. “There’s a cross-section with the Parks & Recreation Department to make sure that we have safe and meaningful trails throughout the district that actually connect parks and connect the district, not just for vehicular movement, but also for pedestrian, bicycle and equestrian uses.”
ITID will hold its first public meeting on the master plan sometime in February, he said.
The district will also work with County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency to get the State Road 7 extension from Okeechobee Blvd. to Northlake Blvd. back on the long-range transportation plan, and ensure that county roadway projects are done in a manner that is consistent with the quality of life for Acreage residents.
“The other thing we will be focused on is improving the internal administrative functions, particularly with the budget process,” Hanson said. “I think we can do a better job on making it more transparent and easier, not just for the board members and staff to understand, but the public as well.”
These efforts will include internal control measures and other accounting principles, as well as working with the external auditor to further solidify financial stewardship.
Another major board initiative is to get the word out for Acreage residents to participate in the 2020 Census.
“It’s very important because that helps us when we go to the county, state or federal government for any type of financial assistance, so that we can show we have a lot more residents who live in Indian Trail than what those people realize,” Hanson said. “It also helps with the other initiative put forth by the board of supervisors, and that’s with the potential municipal conversion.”
Having an accurate census count will allow a third-party independent firm to conduct a feasibility study that is representative of the number of residents within the district instead of just based on properties.
“It will also be able to look at the number of residents who would need to be serviced by a potential incorporation,” Hanson said “I’m not for or against incorporation. I come from the perspective of making sure that the board, then the voters, have all the facts and not just based on a notion, but hard data and financial numbers.”
ITID staff is also working with McKinlay to resolve an issue some residents are having with keeping large trucks and semis on their property. County code enforcement has recently cited several residents who say they moved to The Acreage because they could keep such vehicles on their property.
“Our board voted unanimously that they wanted it returned to two commercial trucks per lot,” Hanson said. “The county seems to be concerned about doing that because it could have an impact on other parts of the county where they are trying to enforce stricter truck guidelines.”
There are several ways to tackle the issue, Hanson said. “One is if the public decides to incorporate, that would, down the road, be up to whoever the [municipal] commission or council would be,” he said. “The second path is for us to try to work with county staff, and ultimately the county commission through Commissioner McKinlay, to put in some type of formalized overlay that would be specific to Indian Trail… We discovered at the last board meeting that we have many residents who moved here for that type of lifestyle so they could have those businesses on their property.”