Plans shelved, at least for now, call for putting a museum in the 1915 train depot and restoring the 1913 Aicher House at Sawfish Bay Park and improving the intersection of Daniels Way and Indiantown Road.
JUPITER — Officials are pressing pause, at least for now, on two projects the town has explored in recent years.
One of the two projects would realign Daniels Way onto Indiantown Road at an estimated cost of roughly $1.9 million. The other calls for renovating the historical structures at Sawfish Bay Park for roughly $1 million over the next three fiscal years.
Council members decided to shelve the projects at a town budget meeting this month.
>> JUPITER READERS: Sign up for the weekly Post on Jupiter newsletter here
Sawfish Bay Park
Tentative plans at Sawfish Bay Park include the refurbishment of the park’s 1915 train depot so it could house a museum. The project would also entail shaping up the 1913 Aicher House to allow public access and adding a parking lot and restrooms, according to town documents.
The town has already invested taxpayer dollars in each building.
Jupiter spent about $64,000 in 2018 to move the Aicher House, donated to the town a year earlier, to Sawfish Bay Park. The town spent another $111,000 moving the train depot to the park from Tequesta in 2012.
Before Jupiter spends more money, it ought to have a good plan to utilize the depot and Aicher House, said Vice Mayor Jim Kuretski.
“So we saved (the Aicher House) but what public use can it be put to, right? And how can the public benefit from the fact we saved it? I think we should give more thought on that,“ Kuretski said.
The Loxahatchee River Historical Society is offering to take over operating responsibilities for both buildings, said Jamie Stuve, the society’s president and CEO.
“We have a great deal of experience in serving the public in those capacities and we feel we have a lot to bring to it and want to see heritage tourism thrive in Jupiter,” Stuve said.
Stuve, who also chairs the town’s Historic Resources Board, said she was disappointed by the council’s decision to put off financing the renovation work.
She noted that more than half of the $1 million price tag for the Sawfish Bay project would come from work not directly tied to the Aicher House or train depot.
Jupiter proposed spending $300,000 to build a new parking lot, $110,000 to install bathrooms and $200,000 to put in seawall riprap, with additional costs related to engineering, according to a tentative project budget.
The town could looking for other sources of funding to bankroll those improvements, Stuve said.
At the budget meeting earlier this month, Councilman Ilan Kaufer said the park doesn’t seem to be conducive to heritage tourism. He suggested the town explore moving the buildings elsewhere.
But Stuve said they each are a logical fit for Sawfish Bay Park — an area she said is rich with local history.
Stuve added: “If you have an operating train depot museum, people will pull off the highway to come and see that. That will generate great benefits for the business community here.”
Mary-Therese Delate, past president of the Loxahatchee Guild, which raised money to restore the train depot, said she’s frustrated by town officials’ inaction.
“I think the council needs to step up and have responsibility for maintaining and saving the history of the area,” Delate said.
A year before Jupiter moved the Aicher House to Sawfish Bay Park, it bought two acres of vacant land at the corner of Daniels Way and Indiantown Road for $2.8 million.
A preliminary plan called for putting a roundabout on that property, while another envisioned installing a parking lot and traffic signals, according to a town document.
But the need to make those improvements has subsided because of two developments, Jupiter Finance Director Mike Villella told council members at the budget meeting.
Jupiter High has converted its northern parking area into a teachers-only lot, Villella said, and cars from Daniels Way can now travel through the municipal complex to access Military Trail.
“We think the need to enhance that intersection is no longer required,” Villella said.
The $2.8 million purchase was still a sound acquisition, Kuretski said in an interview this week, because it was an “investment on property that was just otherwise sitting there.”
He noted that the property is currently in use as a staging area for the town’ municipal complex construction.
There’s also a reasonable backup plan if the town decides to permanently take the project off the table.
"If we ever were to decide we don’t need it, we can always sell it,“ Kuretski said.