Accomando, Farrell Take Top Leadership Positions At ITID

The ITID Board of Supervisors — (L-R) Keith Jordano, Elizabeth Accomando, Betty Argue, Michael Johnson and Patricia Farrell.

It was out with the old, in with the new at the Wednesday, Dec. 6 meeting of the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors, with the group choosing their two newest members to lead them in 2024.

Seat 1 Supervisor Elizabeth Accomando was chosen as president and Seat 3 Supervisor Patricia Farrell was chosen as vice president. Both were elected to the board in November 2022.

Longtime Supervisor Betty Argue shifted from vice president to secretary. Supervisor Michael Johnson, who has served as president for the past two years, took over as assistant secretary. Supervisor Keith Jordano was named treasurer.

Accomando, a resident of the Santa Rosa Groves neighborhood and founder of Barky Pines Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, said, “I appreciate the board’s confidence in me that I can be a good leader.”

As president, Accomando said her focus will be on drainage in terms of completing the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area levee and work on the M-0 Canal; clarifying parks policy; and, of course, roads — whether to pave, mill or leave dirt, that is always the question.

The roads question quickly came up at the meeting with ITID staff recommending all 10 miles of 130th Avenue North and 130th Trail North between 40th Street North on the south and Hamlin Blvd. on the north be laid with millings at a cost of $1,615,623.72. That would include 24 rubberized speed tables.

ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson estimated that there would be a $500,000 savings in maintenance costs over 10 years by putting down millings — essentially crushed asphalt — over continuing to add road rock to the dirt service and grading at least once a week.

“There is an upfront cost, but in the long term, you will have return on investment,” Chief Operations Officer Jason Lester said.

Although Hanson told the board he expects a $3 million surplus to emerge from the district budget when the annual audit is finished early next year, Farrell and Argue expressed concerns over the unbudgeted expense.

Another expense, Argue said, would be constructing fences along the road to protect the horse trails on either side of the canal.

Jordano suggested taking half of the necessary money from the 2024 budget and the other half from the 2025 budget, since the project would overlap both fiscal years. However, Argue and Farrell would not budge. That did not please vocal millings supporters in the audience.

“I want to educate myself before we make this decision,” Farrell said. “I’m tired of seeing money spent just because people are loud. Loud does not always mean right… That’s not the way we should make decisions here.”

Assistant District Manager Rob Robinson suggested putting down eight inches of millings and speed bumps on the half-mile section of 130th between approximately 44th Place North and Persimmon Blvd. as a “pilot program” — an area where residents of the 130th Trail side have long been seeking millings.

“We’d like to see all the roads in The Acreage paved,” John Whittaker, a 130th Trail North resident, said during public comment. “We certainly want to see 130th paved, but this would be a good start. And the sooner the better.”

In the end, the supervisors voted 5-0 to accept Robinson’s “pilot program” proposal. The work is expected to begin in June.

Meanwhile, possible decisions by the Palm Beach County Commission in early 2024 could have a major impact on the 130th project and many others in the district, according to ITID officials who have expressed concern over a proposal to allow big-rig truckers to park up to two 18-wheelers in their yard.

At a Nov. 29 zoning meeting, Hanson told county commissioners allowing the trucks would damage ITID roads and could cost residents more than $200,000 a year in additional maintenance costs. The commissioners voted 4-3 to let the proposal advance to the next step in January.

At the Dec. 6 ITID meeting, Acreage resident Natalia Melian, a leader in the Save Our Truckers movement, and District 6 County Commissioner Sara Baxter spoke during public comment, asking supervisors to withdraw a May letter opposing the plan.

“We’ve put in a clearer definition of how we would like to move forward,” said Baxter, who also is an Acreage resident. “I would ask that you support the residents.”

“We’re asking for a reasonable solution,” said Melian, who owns a trucking business with her husband. Theirs is one of 179 residences in The Acreage at which big rigs are being parked, according to county staff.

At the meeting, the supervisors took no action on the request to rescind the letter.

This week, Accomando said, “Our roads were designed for use by a handful of cars and farm tractors… In the end, it will come down to the dollars. If we have to do road improvements [to handle the big rigs], it will mean more tax dollars are needed.”

ITID gets no county, state or federal funds for its roads. All road construction, improvement and maintenance costs are paid for by direct assessments on property owners.

“It’s a tough question,” Accomando said. “I’d like to find another way to subsidize the road improvements without having to use residents’ dollars should the county choose to move forward.”

In other business:

  • The supervisors approved a $1,221,133 contract with R&D Paving LLC for the paving of 60th Street North from 180th Avenue North to Mandarin Blvd., and 180th Avenue North from 60th Street North to Tangerine Blvd. as part of ITID’s R3 road program.
  • Argue brought up the annual equestrian season problem of illegal manure dumping. She noted complaints from residents along 162nd Drive North. “This should be addressed,” Argue said. “It’s creating a quality-of-life issue for neighbors.”
  • ITID officials are looking forward to the Saturday, Dec. 16 Frontier Holiday Parade and Round-Up, and with much rain in the forecast, hoping Mother Nature cooperates, Accomando said. UPDATE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER.

The parade is scheduled to leave Citrus Grove Park at approximately 5:45 p.m., travel along Citrus Blvd. to 140th Avenue North, then south to Acreage Community Park South.

“People are decorating trucks and buggies,” Accomando said. “We’re going to have 24 horses. It’s going to be great.”

At the park, there’ll be local entertainers, vendors, food trucks, the Grinch and, of course, Santa Claus. There’ll be a Christmas tree lighting and 30 bounce houses.

For those wishing to go directly to Acreage Community Park, gates open at 5:30 p.m.