This is a critical time for Wellington’s equestrian industry, which is international in scope. Riders, owners, horses, trainers and others come from Europe, South America and other continents. Recent Wellington Village Council decisions and actions have left many people wondering if the winter 2013 season in Wellington can be salvaged.
These actions have caused many participants to hesitate to book their accommodations for both horse and rider. In the face of this, the impact on Wellington’s economy could be upward of $60 million as people turn elsewhere for their winter show season.
In 2012, the new derby and dressage venue was built in Wellington as a year-round venue, and it hosted the Global Dressage Festival and jumper derbies. Thousands of spectators from around the globe attended these events.
But then in March 2012, the Wellington election brought adversity. A slate of three candidates was elected (Mayor Bob Margolis and council members Matt Willhite and John Greene). This slate formed a council majority and took action to render the derby and dressage venue virtually useless. Many approvals and permits — including certificates of occupancy — were revoked.
Currently, the derby and dressage venue may only be used for temporary events through issuance of a special-use permit. This permit must be approved by the same hostile council majority, and obtaining this permit does not allow use of the newly constructed permanent facilities; tents would need to be constructed.
The time is now. Positive action must be taken immediately by the council at their Aug. 14 meeting. Unless this happens, Wellington and Palm Beach County will lose the Global Dressage Festival and many other events and derbies (including charity events). What does this mean to Wellington residents and our economy? Loss of jobs, loss of household and business income, and less tax money for road improvements, trail system enhancement, and parks and recreation beautification projects.
Our local restaurants, retail shops and personal service businesses will be especially hurt. The winter season for Wellington is our income-producing season, and it is time to put politics aside and do what is right for the economic well-being of Wellington residents and businesses. Everyone join in and show your support at the Aug. 14 council meeting.
Jack Mancini, Steering
Committee Member, Equestrian
Forum of Wellington