Here we go again. When last here, entitled Mark Bellissimo was insulting our council, insulting our community and then financed the campaigns of new Mayor Anne Gerwig and her cohort Michael Drahos to have a more receptive audience. Well, here he is with a new shenanigan, trying to change areas in the preserve to out of the preserve to allow him to build his hotels/condominiums.
Never mind that Robert Guarini of Wellington Hospitality said that Wellington’s hotels at present run at 58 percent capacity and are full only 49 percent of the time (counting the equestrian presence time-frame).
Add to this the new proposed hotel not in the equestrian preserve currently going through the system in the mall vicinity that will be adding another 250 beds. So, there is no need, only wants and greed of a developer who wants to build, build and build, and commercialize properties — because that’s where his money is.
A few years ago, as most of us sadly can recall, Mr. Bellissimo, often through the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, where some of his cohorts sort of ran the place, continually insulted our elected officials and even our village because he couldn’t have his way, inclusive of constructing without permits, building violations, taking down village signs and suing our village continuously.
I remember well Mr. Bellissimo’s threats about moving to North Carolina, and my advice was and still is “go ahead.” I haven’t heard of equestrian events there in winter conditions, but it is a new twist, riding in the snow.
Wellington was here before Mr. Bellissimo, and it had worldwide support/Olympic riders too. He can choose to improve and enhance this venue with our blessings, but he should kindly refrain from overbuilding with more hotels, condos, etc… We Wellingtonians have an opinion, too, and this is our village.
So the future of Wellington as we know it will be up to the people Mr. Bellissimo virtually put into office with somewhere in the neighborhood of a million dollars in campaign contributions. Will they pay back a perceived debt, or will they vote with the population/citizenry, whose job it is for them to represent?
To be sure, nothing has changed. Any hotel/condo/commercialization will cause more traffic. It will affect aesthetics. It will affect quality of life. And who will pay for road widening and other issues? We did, after all, vote on this already. Respect the people’s referendum and respect that any overbuilding will be a detriment!
We live in a planned community, a neighborhood, so to speak. We don’t need a developer’s avarice to Browardize us, and certainly our village has been very warm to the equestrian community, which is an integral part of our identity. We applaud Mark Bellissimo’s strides in improving the equestrian identity, but enough is enough. Ninety percent or more of Wellington is not equestrian, and they need to be heard, too, as well as the equestrians who live here year-round, not seasonally.
More is not better, and we are almost at build-out. Let’s not ruin our village!
George P. Unger, Wellington