5-part series begins Monday, tackles big question

What Happened to Indiantown’s Grand Vision?

Martin County Administrator Taryn Kryzda is in the crosshairs of Indiantown Mayor Janet Hernandez. She blames Kryzda for backing council members into a corner, forcing them into a decision that will take them “to a point of no return,” according to a letter she sent to Kryzda on March 3.

Hernandez is referring to the village council’s decision Feb. 27 to create Indiantown’s own fire-EMS department after only three years as an incorporated village.

At the same time, the village council also is deep into their plans to build a village hall/community center at an estimated $8 million to $10 million cost, depending on whether or not they’ll include a community swimming pool, on land for which they paid nearly $500,000 above appraised value.

They have yet to figure out how to fund the estimated $9 million to $12 million in repairs for the 60-year-old water utility they purchased at $500,000 above the asking price six months ago.

As the village council seems to be on the verge of swallowing huge chunks of debt, Village Manager Howard Brown Jr. is making a video, with the help of Martin County high school students, to highlight Indiantown’s “achievements” in the two years he’s been administrator.

It’s a matter of perspective.

One thing is certain, however. Indiantown is, indeed, at a point of no return. Their next strategic planning session to chart their direction over the next year to five years is Saturday, April 10. The path they choose that day likely will cement this rural village’s future for a generation.

The founders’ idealistic concept of funding quality-of-life projects for residents, for reducing their tax burden while fixing their infrastructure, which depended on keeping government small, has been replaced with an entirely different set of ideals – build a government structure first, then take care of everything else later, except mow the grass, paint playground equipment, and smooth asphalt on some roads to show tangible results of the nearly $20 million they’ve spent thus far.

The federal government’s recent commitment to repair the country’s infrastructure may save Indiantown from a disastrous sewage spill and fund its critical multi-million-dollar road replacement and drainage projects, yet, the abrupt change in governing philosophy still has residents who voted for incorporation scratching their heads.

To see how the county administrator became a target, what the village council now sets as priorities, and how new Village Manager Howard Brown Jr. persuaded five council members from diverse backgrounds to abandon the philosophy that shaped their village’s incorporation to align with his own big-government ideas, be sure to read the upcoming 5-part series, “What Happened to Indiantown’s Grand Vision?”

Written by Currents publisher Barbara Clowdus, the series begins Monday, March 29, through Friday, April 2.