Residents of the Shady Lakes neighborhood enjoy a quiet way of life close to the bustle of the city.
There’s not much traffic in Shady Lakes because Shady Lakes Drive, which extends north from PGA Boulevard, is the only way in and out of the neighborhood.
“Most people in Palm Beach Gardens don’t even know where Shady Lakes is,” resident Kathy Beamer said.
Children from Shady Lakes and the neighboring Garden Lakes and Gardens of Woodberry communities walk or ride bikes along a path under power lines to reach Timber Trace Elementary and Watson B. Duncan Middle schools. Adults also use the grassy power line corridor to jog and walk their dogs.
All that could change if plans to build a $100 million spring training baseball stadium north of the schools for the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays come to fruition.
The conceptual plan for the stadium calls for making the walking path under the power lines into a four-lane extension of Shady Lakes Drive that would connect it to 117th Court North, the road serving the two schools that also would provide access to the spring training complex.
“It’s sad,” Shady Lakes resident Brad Tunis said while walking the power line path Wednesday. “This green area is special. I try to walk or run every afternoon.”
Garden Lakes resident Emma Breton said she would not feel safe letting her fifth-grade son ride his skateboard to school as he does now if the walking path becomes a four-lane road.
Parents have asked for the road connection in the past because traffic backs up along 117th Court North during pick-up and drop-off times at the two schools. Connecting Shady Lakes Drive to 117th Court North is part of the city’s road improvement plan and was requested by Timber Trace parents in a 2008 petition.
Now another petition is circulating.
Shady Lakes resident Kristine Kerr, whose two sons walk the power line path to school, is gathering signatures to oppose the plan to extend Shady Lakes Drive north and make it a four-lane road. After attending Wednesday’s open house meeting on the stadium at the DoubleTree hotel, Kerr said more than 100 people had signed the petition.
Kerr and other Shady Lakes residents have said they would like to see the stadium built elsewhere. Kerr worries that people attending the spring training games might drink and hold tailgate parties near the schools.
“Who would put a baseball stadium directly across from a school?” she said. “It’s a predator’s dream.”
Building the proposed spring training complex, including a stadium, a dozen practice fields and grass parking areas, also would require the city to tear down City Park — a small park near the city’s tennis center that has basketball and racquetball courts as well as a small playground and wooded exercise trail.
The small park would be rebuilt, but city officials say its new location has not been selected because the stadium plan is still conceptual.
Shady Lakes resident Fran Hunt said she likes to walk along the power line path to City Park with her grandchildren. She said she believes the stadium complex would devalue her home and said the city should be required to install a guard gate at the entrance to Shady Lakes if it is built.
But Shady Lakes resident Davis de Montluzin welcomes the spring training stadium.
“Let’s not fight it,” de Montluzin said. “Let’s negotiate it.”
Vito DeGaetano, a resident of the Paloma community north of the proposed stadium site, agrees that the new spring training complex would be good for the city.
“It’s progressive,” DeGaetano said “It would bring more jobs. I’m for a bigger and better Palm Beach Gardens.”