Senior Housing Key Issue At Wellington ‘Visioning’ Session

The Village of Wellington began crafting out a vision for its future this week. Discussing plans for everything from senior housing to community revitalization, parks and recreation to growth and development, Wellington Village Council members met Wednesday to begin laying out plans.

“The question is, how do we make sure we remain a vibrant, attractive community?” Village Manager Paul Schofield said.

The meeting, which spanned more than six hours, gave council members the chance to dig into some of Wellington’s key issues, and more sessions will be scheduled for further discussion.

One of the major issues discussed was how Wellington can help its seniors age in place. Though council members discussed many options for housing, they ultimately directed staff to poll seniors and decide what level of “affordable housing” Wellington needs.

Schofield noted that the senior population (age 62 and older) in Wellington has risen to nearly 12 percent of the village’s population.

“That population is growing,” he said. “The Senior Advisory Committee is pushing for affordable senior housing. The two age-restricted communities we have right now are very in demand.”

During the recent housing slump, Schofield noted that Buena Vida had the lowest foreclosure rate in the village. Similarly, housing in the Mayfair community is in large demand.

Director of Community Services Nicole Evangelista said that Wellington plans to roll out more community programs aimed at helping seniors.

“We’re beginning an aging-in-place project,” she said. “We want to give seniors the opportunity to live in the homes of their choice. We plan to provide a grant for improvements outside the home, whether that means a new coat of paint or other improvements. That will be coming forth to the council when we approve our annual action plan.”

Councilman Howard Coates said Wellington has to decide what measures it can take to help on this issue.

“What can we really do?” he asked. “Buena Vida is not a product of Wellington. It’s a private development coming in and doing what they have done.”

Coates didn’t want to see Wellington attempt to build affordable housing for seniors on its own, but thought the village should encourage private development to accommodate the village’s senior population.

“I think our focus should be on what we can do to have private enterprises come in,” he said. “I don’t think we can do it ourselves. We don’t have the capacity.”

The second issue, he said, is where to locate such developments. He said two options are the Wellington Christian School site, if it does not become a charter school as planned, and the K-Park property on State Road 7.

“I’m not suggesting K-Park become a senior housing community,” he said. “But when you look at what resources we have, we don’t have a lot of options. I don’t want to sacrifice our existing neighborhoods.”

Councilman Matt Willhite said Wellington needs to first decide what kind of senior housing it wants. “Are we talking about communities like Century Village where they have different amenities?” he asked. “Or are we talking about ALFs [assisted-living facilities]?”

Schofield said assisted-living facilities often inquire about moving into Wellington and aren’t the issue. “What is an issue now is people who are past retirement age, on fixed incomes and want to downsize,” he said. “Where do they live? They want to stay in Wellington, but they need to live someplace more affordable.”

Affordable housing is typically characterized as costing less than 25 percent of one’s gross income, Schofield said. “If you look at some of the low-end rentals in Wellington, that is the sort of cost you are looking at,” he said.

But Councilwoman Anne Gerwig disagreed, noting that many seniors want to own their homes.

“Our seniors don’t want rental housing,” she said. “Even if they are downsizing, they want to own. Many of them want to stay in their own homes.”

Willhite agreed. “I think they want to own something,” he said.

Evangelista said that about 81 percent of Wellington’s seniors own their own homes.

Mayor Bob Margolis noted that Wellington launched a senior task force in 2008, which identified housing as a key issue. “They want to age in place, but not necessarily in their own homes,” he said. “For some of them, maintaining their home has become a burden.”

Margolis suggested looking at organizations that provide help for seniors to age in place.

But Gerwig was concerned that if Wellington uses public funds or grants to build senior housing, it will have to accommodate low-income residents from throughout the region.

“If we’re getting grants and public dollars, we can’t control who lives there,” she said. “Our seniors aren’t telling me they want to live in government-subsidized housing.”

Schofield agreed that Wellington can’t control who lives in government housing. “If government dollars are used, then we can’t regulate who lives there,” he said.

Gerwig stressed that the village’s most successful senior communities — Mayfair and Buena Vida — were built at the impetus of developers.

“I don’t see our role as providing funding, but in encouraging developers to build housing for seniors,” she said. “If we can offset development costs because they are meeting a need, they might build it.”

Vice Mayor John Greene said Wellington should identify areas that might be good for senior development, but not necessarily build it.

“If we step in to do it, I think it will miss the mark,” he said. “We can look at ways to subsidize programs for our seniors, but I think making a significant investment in land or development is overstepping our role.”

Director of Operations Jim Barnes noted that some seniors may not want traditional senior communities. “One of the reasons we were picked as one of the best places to retire is because of our senior activities and amenities,” he said.

Willhite said his goal is for diverse housing options. “I don’t want to see a bunch of assisted-living facilities,” he said.

Coates said the 10 acres behind the Hampton Inn, near the Mall at Wellington Green, could be a great place for senior housing, and Margolis and Greene agreed.

“It’s the perfect location,” Margolis said. “It’s across the street from the hospital and within walking distance to the mall.”

Greene said trams could run from the complex to the mall, and he noted it was close to the NuVista assisted-living facility.

But Gerwig said she didn’t think that was the right location. “I wouldn’t want to live in a mall parking lot,” she said.

Coates asked staff to look at some of the multifamily housing already planned for State Road 7 to see if senior housing could be incorporated.

Schofield suggested that staff poll seniors about their needs and return to the council with suggestions. “We can see what Wellington seniors want,” he said.


  1. 1. How much does it cost to run a municipal golf course? Watering, cutting, the equipment, fertilizing (EPA), personnel, ongoing maintenance, etc?

    2. Why would the Council saddle all Village residents with the ongoing costs of ownership of a golf course?

    3. Golf courses are failing entities, but yet Council members appear interested in buying Bink’s Forest Golf Course. The Village won’t alter the failing of a golf course!

    4. We all didn’t buy into a golf community. The majority of residents bought property elsewhere in the Village.

    5. Bink’s was ‘saved’ once before by the Village and now it is being suggested that everyone in the Village, once again, put out funds to ‘save’ the golf view of owners in Bink’s.

    6. There are other golf courses in Wellington, why Bink’s? Are other communities going to come to the Village and ask the Council to buy up their community golf course, if it falls into disrepair? (Greenview Shores)

    7. Those who chose to live on a golf course suffer the consequences and shouldn’t expect the entire Village to fund their backyard view.

    8. Let the residents of each failing golf course, buy the property-not the Village of Wellington.

    9. The residents do not need Bink’s Clubhouse and the ongoing maintenance.

    10. The Village should not set a precedent with Bink’s, because every other golf course in Wellington will and should expect the same.

    11. It’s not funny to hear council members talk about spending more Wellington taxpayers money on a golf course, clubhouse and the ongoing, year after year of expense of being in possession of a course/clubhouse, while the Council double taxed us on education (the school district tax is already the highest tax on everyone’s bill, let alone spending additional funds. Money is not the answer in education, it’s the parents-parents who value education will have a child interested in education. There are more than adequate programs that the school board has to remedy learning problems), and the Council is also interested in increasing our Acme taxes.

    12. The Council needs to drive around Wellington and see the unkept yards, untended homes that people are struggling to maintain. Stop taking funds from the coffers to spend on any golf course community to maintain their standards while other places in Wellington crumble.

    13. A any purchasing land within the boundaries of Wellington should be for all residents to use, not land for just those who golf.

    14. The Council is out of touch with the residents. Any purchase of a golf course and clubhouse to be run by Wellington; should be put to the entire village in a referendum so everyone can vote.

  2. It’s hard to fathom how Council members can appoint people to the Senior Advisory Committee and not be informed as to what is occurring at those meetings.

    On April 10, 2014, the Senior Advisory Committee met and had a discussion and VOTED on property THEY want for Low Income Senior Housing (or the politically correct term: “Affordable” Housing). That was Agenda Item: “IV Presentations B. Village Owned Property -Bob Basehart”.

    The Seniors seriously discussed 2 sites: KPark and Village Green Athletic field near the Hampton Inn. The Committee selected the Kpark site.

    It was during this Senior meeting that the Chairperson discussed having a “NonProfit” (read that Federal Government-do you know of any other Non Profit entity willing to build for No Profit?) build the Low Income Housing. And also, supposedly, operate this Low Income Voucher Housing.

    Having the “Non Profit” (Federal Government) build Low Income, oops, “Affordable” Senior Housing will NOT guarantee that only Wellington residents will get on the list to live there. Anyone who qualifies will get on the list and those who qualify will be getting Housing Vouchers from the Government to assist them.

    In addition, the “Non Profit” (Federal Government) will not allow Wellington to impose their own planning and zoning or architectural demands/standards.

    Also, at this Senior Advisory meeting, staff discussed the number of buildings (4-6) and the number of stories (2-3) that would be needed to house 200-250 Low Income Seniors.

    If in doubt, regarding what the appointed Senior Advisory Committee did. Please view the Archived Taped Meeting of April 10th that can be found on the Village Website.

    The Village of Wellington is already plagued with problems concerning housing vouchers. Encumbering additional land within Wellington for a “Non Profit” entity to build and operate Low Income Housing is not what the Village should do.

    The Village can help Seniors:

    by offering programs,

    by directing Seniors to County and Federal Government Programs which can assist them (and that would include Housing).

    by locating a program which would assist Seniors, who own their own homes, find other Seniors who could move in with them, a buddy-up with other like minded Seniors!

    County Commission, Jess Santamaria has advocated for the county owned land near Wellington Regional Hospital Complex for Low Income Housing. How about some cooperation between OUR District 6 Commissioner and Wellington?

    KPark land should not be a carrot for developers who would willingly set aside land for Low Income Senior Voucher Housing. It’s the: “You get KPark, if you offer some portion of the land for Low Income Housing deal.”

    The Chairperson of the Senior Advisory Committee has already had ‘discussions’ with those devleopers who currently expressed an interest in KPark. (Where’s was the Ex Parte declaration at the Senior Advisory Committee?!?!?!?!?!)

    Let’s keep the RFP ‘clean’. No special treatment for Low Income land set aside.

    The Village of Wellington, itself, is aging. It was disconcerting to hear a Village administrator say at the Visioning Meeting; that he recently drove through Sugar Pond Manor and was surprised at the area’s decline! That hurt. Get Code Enforcement in there!

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