As a former mayor of the Village of Wellington, I was asked to provide a more balanced perspective on the needs of the entire community as we seek to preserve one of the best cities in the United States in which to live and work. I have spent a lot of time speaking with members of the community and therefore want to make our position known on the Global Dressage Festival arena and events.
The Wellington Preservation Coalition supports equestrian events taking place at the arena at the corner of Pierson and South Shore. Like anyone putting on an event in this community, there is a process to follow. Equestrian Sport Productions should apply for and receive a special use permit and host as many dressage or other equestrian events as they would like, based on the conditions of the permit.
We support equestrian events. However, we also support the needs of residents who live next to this new facility. There should be reasonable hours of operation put in place and enforced, and events should be restricted to equestrian events only. If other types of events are to be considered, they should seek a separate special use permit. Other issues such as lighting, noise and traffic should also be regulated to ensure a successful event without changing the nature of the area.
It is unfortunate that the facility was not built to be more compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. For example, with a site of almost 60 acres, the barns that will accommodate hundreds of horses could have been located farther away from residents in the adjacent neighborhoods. This flaw, though, can be resolved over time and does not need to prohibit equestrian events from taking place there this season.
In addition, we must ensure that environmental rules and regulations are followed. There were significant issues and investigations related to this during the last calendar year. We cannot risk any issues related to water or the environment.
In the future, we would support permanent approval of an equestrian facility at this location, and now that the developer has removed the hotel and commercial development from consideration, there could be a better-designed equestrian facility — one that takes into account the concerns of the community and that is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.
We are confident that all of the equestrian disciplines will continue to thrive in Wellington in concert with Wellington’s unique surroundings. Working together, we can ensure that the needs of all the residents, equestrian community and business community are met, and also that the impacts generated by hosting equestrian events and supporting the equestrian industry will be adequately addressed and resolved.
It is our sincere hope that Mark Bellissimo and Equestrian Sport Productions will participate in this process for the betterment of the entire equestrian community in Wellington.
Tom Wenham, Executive