Vote Shows Resident Support For Saddle Trail Improvements

Residents in part of Saddle Trail Park will find out next week if Wellington will help facilitate road paving, drainage improvements and installing municipal water service. The Wellington Village Council is set to decide Tuesday, April 22 whether to direct village staff to initiate the process.

In February, a group of residents from the southern portion of Saddle Trail Park — located south of Greenbriar Blvd. — asked the council to help the community by using a special assessment process to pay for the improvements.

“It’s a neighborhood-driven initiative,” Village Engineer Bill Riebe told the Town-Crier Wednesday. “A core group of residents asked for the improvement for improved safety and dust control. They want paved roads with a bridle trail to make sure there’s a safe place for horses to go, and to put in water mains for [municipal] water.”

The project calls for a 10- to 15-foot-wide bridle trail, paving the roads, reworking drainage swales and installing new potable water pipelines and fire hydrants throughout the neighborhood.

Council members agreed to do a formal poll of the community to see if the project has support.

“The group went out to do a preliminary poll, got a petition together and went to their neighbors with it,” Riebe explained. “They got more than two-thirds of residents to support it, and came to the council. From there, the council directed us to do a formal polling of the residents, and we’ve now done that.”

According to a Wellington staff report, there were 80 votes (76.2 percent) in support, nine votes (8.6 percent) against it and 16 parcels (15.2 percent) that did not respond.

The formal poll allowed for one vote per plotted lot, meaning some homeowners were allowed more than one vote. According to the staff report, there are 67 property owners among the 105 lots. Forty-eight owners (72 percent) supported the project, seven (10 percent) were against it, and 12 owners (18 percent) did not respond.

In both cases, the two-thirds majority of the residents required for a special assessment was met, Riebe said.

“This says to the council that two-thirds of the residents — a supermajority — want this, and it has been verified,” he said. “It tells them the neighborhood wants to move forward with the project.”

Wellington staff also studied the project and determined it is technically feasible. The estimated cost is $375,000, which ultimately would be paid for by residents.

“Wellington would go out into the market and issue bonds, and then each of those property owners would have a line item on their tax bill for the amount they owe,” Riebe explained. “As long as residents are willing to pay for all the improvements and costs associated with it, and a supermajority of residents want it, I think the council will be willing to look at it further.”

Approval of next week’s agenda item would enable staff to initiate the engineering design procurement process, advertising a request for qualifications for the project.

Riebe stressed that Wellington’s role is only to facilitate the residents’ desires.

“It’s a grassroots initiative,” he said. “It’s not a done deal, and it’s entirely up to the council. There is some opposition. The council doesn’t have to move forward with it if they deem it’s not in the best interest of the community.”

A second group of residents in the north section of the Saddle Trail community had also asked the council in February for a similar project in their neighborhood, but Riebe said there has not been a core group of supporters leading the project.

“It takes a lot of energy to go out, drum up supporters and talk to neighbors,” he said. “If they demonstrate that kind of support, we’ll help them. Anyone who would like to do something like that in their community, we’ll absolutely help them.”