ITID Seeks A Way To Replace Carol Street Culvert

The deteriorated culvert removed from the south end of Carol Street.

Santa Rosa Groves residents packed the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, May 15 to express their concern over the recent removal of a culvert at the south end of Carol Street.

The removal of the culvert cuts access to 60th Street / 59th Lane North and leaves residents of the rural tier neighborhood with only one way in and out — via Louise Street to 70th Road North.

Initially, there were no plans to replace the crumbling culvert, which was owned by the Cypress Grove Community Development District, but placed on land owned by ITID more than a decade ago.

ITID Attorney Mary Viator said there currently is no legal funding mechanism for the district to pay for the project, or even assess Santa Rosa Groves residents for the cost of replacing the culvert, which is not within the Santa Rosa Groves neighborhood, also known as ITID Unit 20. However, Supervisor Betty Argue suggested there might be ways around the prohibition.

ITID staff has estimated the replacement cost at $334,000. If Santa Rosa Groves landowners were assessed for the cost, each would have to chip in approximately $3,300.

Supervisors voted 3-2 to direct ITID President Elizabeth Accomando and district staff to engage with the Cypress Grove CDD, Palm Beach County and GL Homes, which owns much of the land in the area, “regarding the installation and associated costs to install a new culvert.”

Argue, who made the motion to remove the culvert at meeting April 17, made a motion Wednesday night that she be the board member to spearhead the effort to find funding to replace the culvert. Her motion died for lack of a second.

During a sometimes-emotional meeting, a number of residents expressed frustration, not so much with the culvert’s removal, but with the lack of notice given prior to its disinterment, and that there were no plans to replace it.

Speaking to supervisors during public comments, Santa Rosa Groves residents William Derks and his wife Young Derks echoed the concerns of many about there now being only one way in and out of the neighborhood. They, and others, suggested that could create access issues for Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue vehicles and trap residents during major flooding events.

However, ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson said this week that after the district engineer and others inspected the deteriorated pipe, they had no choice.

“It needed to be removed for safety reasons,” he said before Wednesday’s meeting. “It could have collapsed tomorrow or two years from now. But we can’t leave in place anything that is potentially dangerous to the public.”

The Derks provided a copy of their prepared remarks to the Town-Crier prior to the meeting. In it, Young Derks questioned the legitimacy of the safety concerns.

“There are many dirt roads and bridges in ITID… Where was the evidence of the ‘imminent catastrophic failure’ or ‘failing?” After digging in the internal [ITID] documents, the work was done purely under the presumption.”

Derks also suggested that Accomando, a Carol Street resident, benefited from the closure because there would be less traffic and fewer rogue ATV riders going by her property.

Accomando vigorously denied that she had any ulterior motive in notifying district staff that the culvert appeared to be deteriorated and was possibly dangerous.

“The idea that I benefit is absurd,” she said this week. “I have nothing to gain from this. I would be neglectful of my duties had I not done something about this… Saying ‘when it fails, I’ll take it out’ is not an option.”

Supervisor Patricia Farrell put the question in starker terms asking, “If a family was crossing that culvert, and it collapsed and they couldn’t be rescued [from the canal], how would you feel? We did this because we didn’t want to see anyone get hurt.”