This week, members of the Wellington Village Council gave the green light for the 2014 Global Dressage Festival season. Unlike meetings past, which saw dissent and bickering from two very divided factions in the community, Tuesday night’s meeting seemed peaceful.
Despite concerns raised by some residents, the atmosphere seemed supportive, with the focus on details and plans rather than past grievances and personal grudges. The applications even received unanimous approval, showing support from the entirety of the council. This is important.
Though there is much more to be discussed about the future of Equestrian Village, the relatively non-controversial approval of necessary permits for the dressage season is a key step toward healing Wellington’s wounds.
What we saw Tuesday night was a village uniting, albeit slowly. Maybe everyone wasn’t fully in agreement with everything said, but both sides were willing to compromise, and that is what’s important. It will take many more steps to bring the community back together, but someone has to take the first. The credit must go to all involved: to the council members who put their faith in Wellington Equestrian Partners with this permit, to WEP Managing Partner Mark Bellissimo and his team, who took into account concerns of residents, and to everyone on both sides who spoke out on the issue and pushed for compromise.
It was a stark contrast to last year, when revocation of approvals caused uncertainty for the future of dressage in Wellington. Today, Wellington can proudly invite top riders from all over the world to attend the 2014 Global Dressage Festival — and with plenty of time for them to make arrangements. Having confidence in Wellington’s equestrian season is crucial not only for the village’s status as the winter equestrian capital of the world, but also for so many local businesses that depend on the season to get by.
We hope to see the same demeanor of support and compromise continue as Equestrian Village faces more approvals. Though some of them may be more controversial, we hope the discussion sticks to the details without becoming personal.
Wellington has been given a second chance to settle lawsuits and heal wounds by restarting the process of creating Equestrian Village. It is only by working together and being willing to concede on some things to gain on others that Wellington can put the issue behind it and look toward a successful future.