The Palm Beach County Commission made it official Tuesday, Feb. 7, approving $3 million for the construction of an artificial turf, regulation-size football field and other improvements at Acreage Community Park.
District 6 Commissioner Sara Baxter “was very quick to make a motion and get it approved,” said Indian Trail Improvement District Executive Director Burgess Hanson, who attended the session. “She was very supportive.”
ITID oversees roads, drainage and parks in the area. Other improvements planned for Phase 2 of the Acreage Community Park South Expansion Project include new bathrooms, equestrian parking for the equestrian trail, new lighting, and the relocation and construction of a new skate park.
The money was originally earmarked for construction of a community center at the park, but due to pandemic delays and the increased cost of construction, the project became too expensive. ITID supervisors requested that the district be allowed to use the money from the Infrastructure Surtax Funding Agreement for other improvements to the park.
Already nearing completion are major renovations to the north football fields at the park with the Acreage Athletic League flag football program expected to begin there in March.
Meanwhile, controversy about the league and its longstanding service provider agreement with the district flared again at the Wednesday, Jan. 25 meeting of the ITID Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Patricia Farrell read into the record an e-mail from a resident questioning the AAL’s methods, programs and leadership, and its relationship with ITID.
Relating a recent negative experience she had with personnel at Acreage Community Park, Farrell said, “At this point, it feels like a vendetta” against residents not aligned with the AAL.
The AAL has been ITID’s athletics service provider since 1992.
“I went through the service provider agreement, and I believe there are a lot of items that [the AAL is] not following through on,” Farrell said. “I want to make sure that everyone is playing nice in the sandbox.”
This led to a disagreement between Farrell and ITID Vice President Betty Argue, a longtime AAL supporter.
“I’m not sure what the agenda is here,” Argue said. “But I’m not going to go down this rabbit hole every time someone gets their nose out of joint. We’ve got way more important things that this board should be putting its energy into.”
“There is a lot to do, but one of the things we’re responsible for is parks,” Farrell said. “We have a responsibility to make sure [the AAL] is following through [on the agreement]… People would have more trust in us if they see we’re investigating.”
Argue said later that much of the recent bickering is due to the creation of a rival flag football league — the Breakthru Athletic League — that is competing with the AAL for players while scrapping for field space.
Wendy Tirado, the AAL’s acting president, said Wednesday that her organization has lost some players to Breakthru but “to each their own.”
“Our goal, no matter what, is to see kids doing something in the outdoors, whether it’s with us or Breakthru,” she said.
Hanson suggested that a more comprehensive review of policies is needed for the district’s 12 parks, including a look at event permits, facilities rentals, alcohol sales and insurance requirements.
“We need to have a very robust discussion about what is appropriate [in the parks] and what isn’t,” Argue agreed.
Still, much of the issue comes back to space, Hanson said. “The board has to get a handle on the use of these athletic fields,” he said. “If we built 10 fields, we probably still would not have enough.”
In other business:
• Supervisor Elizabeth Accomando suggested that ITID consider starting an adopt-a-road program to create more community involvement.
“It’s just a way for a business or even a family to say, ‘I have pride in my community,’” explained Accomando, founder of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary.
Accomando said to get the ball rolling, Barky Pines would be happy to adopt Carol Street in Santa Rosa Groves, where her sanctuary and home are located.
• In a related matter, VoteLox, a group supporting the push for a November incorporation referendum, will be holding a public information meeting Thursday, Feb. 23, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. VoteLox also will be holding its first meeting Saturday, Feb. 18 from 2:30 to 5 p.m. for those who registered to volunteer for one or more committees. Both meetings will be at Hamlin House, located at 14893 89th Place North.