A horse park with a hotel and a hotel with a baseball complex are two ideas the Wellington Village Council might consider for the vacant K-Park property on State Road 7.
Village Manager Paul Schofield told council members at their meeting Tuesday that the two proposals had been brought before Wellington staff.
“We’ve had discussion with two people about the potential development of K-Park,” he said. “One proposal is a hotel and conference center with a quadruplex that will do baseball tournaments — we’re talking high school, travel teams and college tournaments.”
The village had not yet received a site plan for that proposal, Schofield said.
“The other proposal was for a horse park,” he said. “We had very preliminary meetings about this. It would have barns, paddocks, three covered arenas and a hotel and some retail associated with it.”
The site would be for both English and Western riding, Councilwoman Anne Gerwig said, and could also include a veterinary school.
“Hopefully they would keep that moving forward,” she said. “It wouldn’t be the same as anything we have now.”
Since Wellington purchased the property in 2004, development of the site has been a controversial issue. Schofield noted that there have been requests for proposals sent out, but Wellington got few results.
Schofield said he wanted to make council members aware of the new proposals.
“I have spoken with these folks enough that I needed the council to be aware of the situation,” he said. “I need authorization on whether you want me to continue to have these conversations. If you’re not interested, I don’t want to go further.”
But, he said, it couldn’t hurt to continue to discuss options. “I think at this point you should continue to talk with them,” Schofield said.
Gerwig agreed about opening up dialogue but also reminded Schofield that she had proposed a third option.
“I thought we could develop it ourselves,” she said. “We could decide what we wanted — like a hotel and restaurants in the front — and then get enough income from that to provide whatever recreation we want there.”
For a long time, some residents have asked for recreational space on the property.
“I understand that it’s a huge piece of property,” Gerwig said. “We can’t afford to maintain recreation on the entire 65 acres. But I’d like to explore and see whether we could develop it, sell it and get enough income to maintain whatever recreation our staff thinks we are deficient in.”
Gerwig noted that opening this discussion might bring in even more options. “I want to get all of the options out there,” she said. “People watching at home probably have their own ideas. We probably opened Pandora’s box.”
Councilman John Greene asked whether Wellington had ever gotten involved in private development, but Schofield said it had not.
“We’ve not been successful with it,” he said. “That’s not to say no government has, but we haven’t done it.”
Greene said he thought generating interest in the property could be a good thing.
“If we’ve opened Pandora’s box here, I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” he said. “We have put this out there and gotten very little response in terms of a vision for this site. What I like, no matter which plan it is, is that these proposals are for a comprehensive site. We’re not piecemealing it out acre by acre.”
He also noted that Wellington isn’t paying to maintain the land, which is currently leased to an organic vegetable farm.
“It’s not costing the village to sit on the land,” Greene said. “As values come back in the next year or two, it might be worth more. This is the last major site for development along our commercial corridor, so I want to make sure we do something valuable.”
Councilman Matt Willhite said that Wellington is still paying out on municipal bonds on the property. “Where are we with that?” he asked. “It’s a different story when the bond is paid in full; we are paying $40,000 a month to repay that bond.”
Schofield said it should be paid off this year.
Council members directed Schofield to continue to speak with the interested parties.
Greene encouraged the community to look at the proposals, but be aware that they are still in the preliminary stages. “This is just conceptual,” he said. “There could be multiple modifications if it moves forward in the process.”
In other business, Schofield asked council members to set aside time to go through the 26 applications Wellington received for in-house legal counsel.
“We want you to pick your top five and send them to staff so we can make a list,” he said. “Once that is complete, we would ask that the council convene a special meeting to evaluate the list and bring in the top three to five attorneys for interviews.”
Willhite asked whether the interviews would be done as a council. “Will these be individual interviews?” he asked.
Schofield said they would be done as a council with individual candidates. “It would be one candidate at a time, opposed to a mass interview,” he said.
Council members directed Schofield to begin the process and set up a meeting to review candidates.
Trust me, the last thing serious equestrians want is another horse venue especially out on State Road 7. Only Mr. Wilhitte who never saw the front end of a horse suggested that as a place for horse shows. Even now with the closing of Pierson entrance and exit to the Stadium venue trailers have to pull out onto Southshore and turn around in the Players Club to go south where most of the big horse properties are. There aren’t any visionaires on the council or they would have let the previous approvals stand. Most residents in Wellington don’t care and don’t know what is happening within the equestrian areas. They are too busy raising children, getting to their jobs and paying bills. What we do need is for this wasteful council to stop spending our money on legal fights that could have been avoided. Maybe no interest in the parcel is because of this council’s reputation and the fight one has to go through to get approvals. Also there is no guarantee that next council will revoke everything anyway since the precedent has been set. Governing can’t work effectively if newly elected members can freely undo prior approvals. Vote no to Brandon, it floods, the stalls are flimsy, the bathrooms horrible and hot so why even take that monster on at our expense. We have beautiful venues right in our neighborhood of horse farms where they should remain. World class footing and infastructure that rivals anything one can imagine.
Regarding the horse park proposal:
1. The park is near the BUSIEST road in the area-SR 7. How many times have we heard that horses and traffic do not mix? There’s a traffic nightmare on Pierson and South Shore and now the Village council is considering extending it to SR 7?! We do not need more horse manure so close to commercial and residential areas, no matter what BMP will be implemented. There will trucks hauling away the manure, delivering hay, shavings, etc.
2. There is a good possibility of having tall nightlights for evening activities that will cause problems for the Castellina and Oakmont residential areas and the nearby church; when horse shows are underway (or for that matter, baseball games).
3. Riders would not be able to ride over to the park. Horses would have to be trailered in.
4. Most horse owners live west of this park and would want to cut across Stribling Road with their trailers to head west through Wellington.
5. Most Wellington residents are not equestrians and would not be able to use the park. Again, it’s just for the ‘special group’ who dominate the politics in the Village, who alienate each other, who are constantly plotting one upmanship to ‘manage’ the village to their liking and use their monetary might to devote 60+ acres for their equestrian endeavors.
6. There is a defunct golf course, near the Wellington dog park along Aero Club Drive, that could be bought for a horse park for equestrians. It’s nearby the equestrian area and riders could easily access the area with no need to trailer in their horses. Forget the rodeos leave that for Jim Brandon and other areas of the western communities; and forget the hotel. That brings low paying jobs.
7. Didn’t the Mayor also ask the Wellington staff to look into the possibility of annexing in the horse area-Jim Brandon Complex-into Wellington? Again, equestrians dominating politics in Wellington.
8. Where is the appreciation for culture, the arts, aesthetics in Wellington? Oh, that’s right, 4 of the 5 council members are males and have no clue. The Wellington amphitheatre is not the answer for cultural events in Wellington. It’s a wonderful fun area for outdoor casual events but, they too, can be rained out, become too humid and hot to enjoy, and there is a constant battle with bugs. Save some land for a cultural center in Wellington.
10. K Park is the LAST large area of land owned by Wellington, devote the land for ALL residents, not just a certain powerful groups.
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