OPINION: Neighbors Strongly Oppose Plan For ATV Park

The ATV park proposal added by Commissioner Sara Baxter as part of the GL Homes land swap deal will have a very negative impact on residents in Santa Rosa Groves and adjoining communities. We urge Commissioner Baxter to consider a course correction. Seventeen letters from residents were sent to all county commissioners pleading to place this park away from our neighborhood. All other ATV parks across the nation are miles away. My neighbors and I have endured flooding and bad roads here in exchange for peace and quiet. That is why we moved here. This park will cause continuous noise and attract more riders to Santa Rosa Groves, which is already a big problem. The park plan will exclude motorcycles, but those riders will return to SRG neighborhoods on future dates now that they have found us on the map. SRG has 100 lots, typically five to 12 acres and is attractive to horse owners and farmers, but this park will make it less attractive.

Secondly, the Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) rider community wants this park returned to 20-Mile Bend because the new plan does not permit motorcycles and certain other OHVs. The 20-Mile Bend OHV park plan was years in the making and feasibility studies were complete, but the operator has tragically passed away. Any new operator could utilize existing work done. The 20-Mile Bend location can promote a motocross league where participants would tour and compete, making this a very attractive site.

Insurance costs for privately owned ATV parks are very high. The racetrack at 20-Mile Bend will cost millions more than expected due to muck that needs removal to ensure a flat raceway. But an OHV park would not require as many costs. In addition, GL Homes has no experience designing and building a safe ATV park.

Building an ATV park is not like building a library. Such a project should be supported by the whole community. But this proposal was not made known to residents until after Commissioner Baxter told the OHV community in a public meeting that it was already under construction. We strongly urge Commissioner Baxter to include and listen to the concerns of SRG residents, ITID leaders and the 20-Mile Bend OHV riders’ group, as they are the most affected stakeholders.

We kindly request that all commissioners consider adjusting their plans by changing the ATV park location within the GL land swap deal. The county possesses alternate locations that are better suited for the intended purposes. We urge Commissioner Baxter to understand that adjusting course will be viewed by her constituents as a quality of good reasoning. The raceway is not a sure thing, but the OHV park at 20-Mile Bend has all the studies. The Palm Beach International Raceway was not profitable even though it was a much nicer raceway than can be built at 20-Mile Bend. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Raceway advocates will be disappointed, but there will be future opportunities. The OHV advocates will be delighted, and the residents of SRG will be grateful.

William Derks, Loxahatchee