When it comes to making Santa Rosa Groves an active unit in the Indian Trail Improvement District, it’s now or never, at least in terms of dealing with ITID’s current board, residents of the rural enclave were told during the public comment portion of the Wednesday, Feb. 17 meeting of the ITID Board of Supervisors.
“I’m confident we will come to a consensus and find a path forward,” ITID President Betty Argue said.
However, she warned if an agreement cannot be reached, this likely will be the last opportunity for “activation” — as the process is called — into the district, at least for the foreseeable future.
Over a period of several years, “we’ve stuck it out every step of the way” with the Santa Rosa Groves homeowners who wish to become part of ITID and receive the drainage and road services that the district can provide, Argue said. But if an agreement cannot be reached on a water control plan and improvements to the area’s roads, “I don’t think anyone [on the current ITID board] is going to want to go through this again,” she said.
The board voted 5-0 at the Feb.17 meeting to move the process forward by accepting into escrow the easements for the community. The board also directed its staff to set up a meeting with residents to garner input as to the type and scope of improvements residents want, with the understanding that assessment rates in Santa Rosa Groves will be impacted by those decisions. The district also accepted maintenance responsibility for some common area easements.
The date and location of a “consensus building” meeting has not been set, but Argue said she would like it to happen before March 15 so that ITID’s engineering staff would have time to develop a draft plan and present it at the March 31 board meeting. At that point, she said, hopefully the board will be able to approve the draft and set the public hearings necessary before final adoption.
If all goes well, activation will be finalized by late summer, said Argue, who was not pleased to hear rumblings that some Santa Rosa Groves residents may want to put off a decision.
“This is not an easy process,” she told the Town-Crier after the meeting. “But we’ve acted in good faith… Let’s not drag this out.”
Created in the 1970s, Santa Rosa Groves is made up of 99 lots ranging from five acres to 20 acres. The area, west of The Acreage and north of White Fences, has a long history of flooding problems. Its roads and swales have deteriorated, and the canals are overgrown to the point that a heavy rain event in 2018 left some residents up to their waist in stormwater. Still, some property owners have resisted ITID activation, fearful of the assessment increases that likely will be necessary to fund the improvements.
At the bare minimum, ITID would commit to constructing road-rock streets, clean canals and install at least one pump for the neighborhood, Argue said. The decision for Santa Rosa Groves residents to what degree they want to upgrade beyond those basics. For instance, residents could elect for milled or even paved roads, and to add more than one pump to the drainage system.
Argue noted that if the activation process is completed, it will not nullify the Santa Rosa Groves Homeowners’ Association. “We’re not getting involved in any claims against the association or developer,” she said. “Landowners may want to reinvigorate the association or dissolve it.”
In other business:
• The board heard a grants status update from Ryan Ruskay of RMPK Inc. Grants recently awarded include: $492,000 for swale improvements, $400,000 for the Nicole Hornstein Equestrian Park, $200,000 for Acreage Community Park retroactive expenses and $50,000 for Sycamore Park. Grants currently pending include: $6,840,000 for the Corbett levee project, $800,000 for the M-O Canal discharge project, $840,000 for the M-O Canal restoration/multi-use trail project, $2,100,000 for culvert replacement and $50,000 for Temple Park. The board also approved submission of a request for a recreational trails program grant application in the amount of $400,000 for improvements to multi-use pathways.
• The board heard from Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Craig Turner, who is in charge of the patrol district that includes The Acreage. He responded to a complaint by a Carol Street resident that individuals on all-terrain vehicles were firing guns in the area. He said that residents have a right to discharge firearms on their own property with proper safety precautions, but that the PBSO definitely would respond to shots fired from an ATV. Any resident who feels his or her life is in danger should call 911, otherwise the non-emergency number (561) 688-3400 should be used. Turner said that rogue ATV riders are an ongoing problem, and that the PBSO soon will be deploying two of its own ATVs in the area to help combat the problem.
• The board heard from Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue District Chief William Rowley that there had been a noticeable uptick in medical response calls over the last month, from about 130 to 179. Asked whether there were any plans for building another fire station in the area, Rowley said that there are no new stations on the five-year plan, particularly after the recent opening of Station 22 in Westlake.
• The board heard from Acreage Landowners’ Association President Bob Morgan that the Valentine’s Day concert at Acreage Community Park featuring the Majesty of Rock tribute band was very successful. ITID staff estimated that some 500 people came out to hear covers of hits by Toto, Styx and Journey. Many remained in their cars for social distancing purposes, but still were able to enjoy the show. Morgan noted there has been a change of bands for the March 14 show. The nationally known Eagles tribute band the Long Run is now scheduled. Davis Clapp, an Acreage resident who is producing the Rock Your Park concert series for the ALA, is a former road manager for the band.
• The board approved an amendment to the R-3 Road Plan to include some 70 speed tables throughout ITID for the purposes of traffic calming.
• Finally, the board approved a letter of appreciation for Paul Schofield, who recently retired as village manager in nearby Wellington.