Indian Trail Board Continues To Study Carol Street Culvert Issue

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

Residents of Santa Rosa Groves and nearby Sunny Urban Meadows with culvert concerns again filled the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors chambers on Wednesday, June 5.

Supervisors were pressed to replace the culvert that was removed from the south end of Carol Street, disconnecting the Santa Rosa Groves neighborhood from 60th Street North/59th Lane North, leaving only one way in and out via Louise Street/70th Road North.

In the end, the supervisors voted 5-0 to ask staff to draft a letter to the approximately 100 landowners in Santa Rosa Groves outlining the options for replacement, the costs and timeline for installation. The board is expected to review the letter at a meeting in July.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Sara Baxter, who spoke at the meeting, urged the supervisors to act quickly, called the decision “death by analysis.”

However, Supervisor Betty Argue said, “There’s more homework to be done… I’d rather do this right than rush it.”

The culvert was removed “because there was an issue with safety,” Supervisor Patricia Farrell said.

Safety plus liability concerns remain the major issues in the debate, along with cost and who will foot the bill, ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson said.

ITID Engineer Jay Foy has previously estimated that installing a culvert and crossing at the location to district standards would cost approximately $334,000. A so-called “wet install” of a culvert rated to agricultural standards would be much less.

Baxter told the supervisors that representatives of developer GL Homes, which owns several thousand acres nearby, had agreed to put in a new drainage pipe rated for agricultural use and do the necessary dirt work to make the crossing passable.

Then ITID can “proceed forward with something to your standards,” said Baxter, who lives in The Acreage. “But [GL] is going to get it done faster, quicker and have an immediate result for these residents… if you want to get it done before [the height of] hurricane season.”

One of the major sticking points during the meeting was that no engineer from GL Homes appeared willing to sign off on the installation. This week, Baxter said that she had talked further with GL representatives and their engineer now has agreed to approve the project.

Santa Rosa Groves resident William Derks said this week that he already has collected 53 signatures from neighborhood property owners who want the crossing reopened.

“We can’t use a resident’s petition in that manner,” ITID President Elizabeth Accomando said this week. “While we appreciate the effort, that is something staff has to do.”

Derks said that Accomando is unfairly putting her thumb on the scale on this issue to alleviate dust, noise and traffic going past her residence. She gets a “disproportionate amount of benefit” from keeping the crossing closed, he said.

Accomando has said that she discovered what she believed to be a safety issue with the culvert and brought her concern to ITID staff. When staff investigated, they also had concerns, and when the pipe was pulled, it showed signs of deterioration.

The pipe was removed “with never any thought of replacing it,” Derks said.

Residents are concerned about diminished access for fire-rescue and law enforcement vehicles, the lack of a secondary escape route during hurricanes or other heavy rain events, and about the inconvenience for those who often move back and forth between Santa Rosa Groves and Sunny Urban Meadows as part of their daily work, Derks said.