ITID Board Supports First Phase Of Community Center

The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors: (L-R) Michael Johnson, Jennifer Hager, Betty Argue, Joni Martin and Keith Jordano.

The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors gave direction at its meeting Wednesday, July 21 on what to do with about $3 million that is available from Palm Beach County’s half-cent sales surtax planned for a community center at Acreage Community Park’s southern expansion.

“We previously did a resolution as a board requesting those monies to be used for drainage infrastructure, and it was not received well by the county,” said ITID President Betty Argue, who added that the board should decide how to spend the money or risk losing it.

ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson said he was not asking for a final decision that evening but to begin discussions on the process of building a community center at the park.

“We can find out what the engineering and architectural costs are so we can plan and get this in the pipeline and try to secure those dollars,” he said.

Hanson said that $3 million is not enough money to complete a community center, but his staff would look for other funding sources, perhaps hardening the structure for use as an emergency operations center.

He added that the current district meeting hall is becoming too small to hold some events, such as the Feasibility and Charter Review Committee meetings underway, which are drawing large attendance.

“It’s $3 million, and I can assure you that if we do not jump on this, the county will reallocate that money to other projects,” Hanson said.

The current site plan calls for a 45,000-square-foot structure.

ITID Assistant Executive Director Rob Robinson said the current plan is building the community center in stages when money becomes available.

“We’ve outgrown the current location for meetings, especially when there is an issue that drives the public out,” Robinson said. “The first [stage], we would have some meeting centers, as well as additional office staff.”

While the $3 million is a great start, it would not go that far, Robinson noted.

“Especially when we’re looking at getting additional funding dollars or grants for hardening the building,” he said. “We’re looking at $200 and up per square foot for a building of that magnitude, so the $3 million really wouldn’t go that far.”

Argue asked if the current plans could accommodate a basketball court, and Parks & Recreation Director Elizabeth Ricci said she believed it could.

“Initially, our goal would be to get something that is functional, multiuse in the first phase, and then we’ll do the next phase,” Argue said. “Financially, the initial construction and also the running of that is minimal — but functioning as a community center starts to cost money in our budget.”

Recalling previous discussions about the cost of operating a fully functioning community center, she said it was estimated at $1.5 million annually.

“That’s not what’s being proposed right now,” Argue said. “We could have indoor basketball where the Acreage Athletic League could play, but it’s not going to be a full-blown community center.”

Supervisor Keith Jordano suggested that the facility could be rented out for weddings and parties.

Hanson noted the Palm Beach County School Board is no longer allowing the AAL to use the Seminole Ridge High School gymnasium.

“Maybe that will change in the near future, but they’re actually doing it now outdoors on our courts,” he said.

Argue said that the important point was to get some multipurpose use out of the initial phase and seek additional funding sources.

She asked for a consensus of the board to direct staff to continue planning an initial phase of the project, and there were no objections.