Parks and recreation issues were back on the front burner at the Wednesday, April 19 meeting of the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors.
The supervisors approved up to $120,000 for replacement of topsoil and new sod at the Acreage Community Park South Multi-Purpose Field, which is badly deteriorated, according to Parks & Recreation Director Kenny Lawrence.
The project should take 30 to 45 days, and the field should be ready for the start of the Acreage Athletic League tackle football season Aug. 1, he said, adding that ITID crews will be handling all of the work except the sod installation, saving the district $100,000 to $150,000.
“This isn’t like the north fields, where we found all sorts of drainage problems underneath,” Lawrence said. “We just need to clean and remix the soil and put down new sod.”
The current field was installed by an outside contractor in 2020, he said.
The supervisors balked at a request for $49,662 to pay for fencing that ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson said is necessary to protect the field, the park and ITID employees from aggressive interlopers unwilling to follow the rules, and also to help curtail ongoing vandalism issues.
Hanson related an incident during which a recreation employee approached someone driving a cart on the field, told the individual doing so was not permitted and was nearly run over. The incident was reported to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, but no one has been apprehended, he said.
“We respect the community, but there are some people in the community who aren’t respecting the rules,” Hanson said.
But Supervisor Patricia Farrell said, “It’s not fair to punish all because of a few.”
ITID Vice President Betty Argue agreed.
“I know we have a problem,” she said. “[But] we’re supposed to be staffing both sides of the park. It’s in the organizational plan, and it’s in the budget. There have been countless times when I’ve been to the park and saw no staff.”
“We don’t have the staff to cover all the needs,” said Lawrence, explaining later that 10 employees would be needed to cover the north and south sections of the 25-acre park from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
The department, which oversees eight other ITID parks, has 12 slots, but currently only eight positions are filled. “It has been challenging since COVID-19, but that’s true of everywhere,” he said.
Something must be done about the ongoing vandalism at Acreage Community Park and other parks, Supervisor Keith Jordano said. “We need to get tough on crime,” he said.
Easier said than done, PBSO Lt. Rob DeMarzo told the supervisors. DeMarzo was on hand to deliver the monthly crime report.
While detectives are catching some of the vandals, a lot of the suspects are “very young, below teenage years,” he said, noting that makes them difficult to prosecute in a serious way. “But if you want to make a point, you could push to prosecute them all.”
“We’re not trying to make these kids into criminals, but stop them from becoming criminals growing up,” Argue said.
Other suggestions included PBSO deputies spending time in local schools to talk about vandalism/criminal mischief and its consequences, and that community service might be an alternative for offenders who are caught.
In other business:
- The supervisors voted unanimously to create a 12-member Equestrian Trails Committee that would be composed of five regular members, five alternates — all from within the community — and two at-large members with special expertise from other horse-friendly communities in the area, such as Wellington. The committee would meet at least quarterly, possibly monthly.
Jordano suggested that the group should simply be called the “Equestrian Committee” to give it broader purview on equestrian issues, but Argue, who sponsored the proposal, said she wanted to keep the focus on the Indian Trail Mobility Plan. The outline developed by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council and adopted by ITID in December 2020 contains an equestrian trails component.
“We need to start somewhere… [and] the trails keep getting kicked to the bottom of the pile,” Argue said. “I’d like to prioritize it.”
At the same time, Argue said the committee also could help with obtaining grants and creating equestrian awareness with events and projects.
“We are a designated equine community, and we need to start advancing these equine initiatives,” Argue said.
- The supervisors also approved a proposal by Supervisor Elizabeth Accomando to create an ITID Adopt-a-Street Program to encourage businesses, nonprofits, neighborhood groups or even families to collect trash in areas of their choosing along district roads. The county runs a similar program for county roads.
A pilot program for the ITID plan will be conducted on Carol Street in Santa Rosa Groves. Accomando lives in the area and has said the nonprofit she founded, Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, will sponsor the cleanup along a stretch of that street.
“This is something that is very dear to me,” she said. “I look forward to helping clean up our community. Hopefully, it will make people take more pride in their community.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” ITID President Michael Johnson said. “It gives you a way to learn about your neighbors, too.”
- The supervisors agreed to add sidewalks along Calamondin Blvd. and 180th Avenue North, at a cost of $49,820.
- The supervisors adopted the Santa Rosa Groves Surface Water Management Policy. ITID Engineer Jay Foy said that standards in the policy for the oft-flooded area are more stringent than those required by the county or the South Florida Water Management District.
While saying no plan can protect against a 1,000-year, 20-inch rainfall event such as the one seen recently in Broward County, Foy told supervisors that the requirements will do much to protect homeowners from flooding.
“We’ll see when we have a hurricane heading for us,” Argue said.
- The supervisors set the next regular meeting of the board for Wednesday, May 17. A budget workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, May 24, and the first budget hearing is set for Wednesday, May 31.