Wellington Hopes To Buy Wanderers Exec Course… If The Price Is Right

The Wellington Village Council directed its staff Tuesday to move ahead with purchasing the Wanderers Club executive golf course property for use as a passive park, but to negotiate a better price for the deal.

The 38-acre course winds through the Lakefield South community and is commonly used by joggers and bicyclists. In July, the council had directed staff to move forward with negotiations.

The village received appraisals of between $700,000 and $3.5 million, with $1.3 million and $1.4 million appraisals in between. The high appraiser, who had submitted based on highest and best use, rather than the desired use by the village, later resubmitted a lower appraisal.

While the Wanderers Club wants closer to the $1.3 million figure, some council members feel the $700,000 appraisal is more reasonable.

The Wanderers Club continues to operate its more challenging 18-hole, par-72 golf course, while the executive course is no longer active.

Wellington Project Manager Mike O’Dell said village staff also did an environmental audit and found chemicals commonly found on golf courses. The course has been out of play for seven years, many of the asphalt paths need repair, and the irrigation system has not been operated since the course fell into disuse.

The Wanderers Club pays about $17,500 a year in ad valorem taxes to the village.

O’Dell said the village currently has similar passive park areas, including Peaceful Waters and Birkdale. He said the village as the owner can rezone the property into parks and conservation, which will guarantee its existence in perpetuity, adding that if the village does not act, it could give a private developer the opportunity to do something with it.

Councilman Matt Willhite wanted to know more about how long the property has been sitting, but pointed out that it has been well-maintained and mowed.

“We’re not having blight and animals and critters,” Willhite said. “I think there’s a lot of questions, the main one being what to do with it.”

He pointed out that the village’s K-Park parcel has gone through years of trials and tribulations and is still in agricultural use, rented by the village to farmers. However, Wellington doesn’t really offer a lot of amenities in its northwestern neighborhoods.

“Every day I see people walking or jogging on those broken-down trails,” Willhite said. “I see this as an area the residents can utilize.”

Willhite said he would like for staff to negotiate a price, and questioned Village Manager Paul Schofield on whether a developer could buy the land and, with some effort, obtain the necessary rezoning. Schofield said it is possible.

Willhite said he thought the purchase would be a benefit to the village, but wanted to be sure that the security of the residents is maintained. “If we don’t purchase it, we could have a whole lot of houses or townhouses,” he said. “I don’t see any negatives compared to what we could gain from it.”

Councilman Howard Coates said he strongly favored the purchase. “When you ask people what defines Wellington, it’s parks and recreation,” Coates said. “That’s why I’m attracted to this proposal. I think it would be a nice community park. I think that would serve those communities well.”

However, he did have some reservations about the price and what its final use would be.

“I would be opposed to an equestrian park, because of injecting a use that is foreign to the residents there,” he said. “My support for this would be primarily that it remain open passive space.”

O’Dell said that by averaging the high and low appraisals, they arrive at about $29,000 an acre, which is close to the club’s independent appraisal of $28,311, or just under $1.1 million.

“I think the number is too high,” Coates said. “It puts us in a bad negotiating position giving them what they’re asking.”

Coates said he would prefer to pursue the $700,000 appraisal.

Councilwoman Anne Gerwig asked if someone else was looking at the property, and O’Dell said he assumed that developers were.

Schofield said the property is protected to some extent, being zoned as commercial recreation and in a planned unit development, and it is described that way in the village’s comprehensive plan.

Coates noted that any changes would have to come to the council for approval.

Gerwig said she was concerned about security and suggestions of reworking the lakes, which she thought would be expensive, but favored the village buying the property.

“It’s a good deal to buy this, but I don’t think there are people lined up to buy this,” she said. “I don’t have a problem with it being a passive equestrian area. The residents are used to it. For us to have a public riding area that is publicly owned would add a huge value.”

Vice Mayor John Greene said he strongly favored the purchase and thought there were developers interested in buying the property. He thanked the Wanderers Club for giving the village the first opportunity to buy it.

“I want to thank you for that consideration because there are people lined up to buy this,” he said. “Just because it doesn’t have the current zoning doesn’t mean the potential buyers aren’t out there.”

Coates made a motion to move forward with the intention of closing by the end of the year, which carried unanimously.


  1. What’s with the talk about no parks available in the Northwest area of Wellington?

    In the Aero Club is a passive park across from Flying Cow Road. Plus, they have the Pilot House open field to use. Residents in this Northwest section of Wellington have much closer access to the multitude of acres in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ Park -Section 24-Water Retention Area than all the rest of the residents in Wellington. There’s also, the nearby Dog Park, which used to be a ‘regular’ park with playground equipment, plus there is the volley ball area nearby. How about someone buying the acreage for sale by the DayCare Center on Greenview Shores and donating that land to Wellington for a park? What about the acreage that is being leased from the School District by the Village for a tree nursery?

    In spite of saying all that, Wellington does need more open park areas. Of concern is The Wellington Council continued use of the Stoneman Douglas Water Retention Area as having met the Village’s quota for park acreage.

    Hardly anyone uses that the Stoneman Douglas water retention area! More events need to be held/scheduled out there! Bring out the Village residents with a sponsored charity walk and food truck event. Have a fishing event or a children’s Treasure Hunt in the retention area. There’s an observation tower that everyone should be encouraged to climb, watch parachuters float to the ground at the nearby airfield. Equestrians should use the bridle paths out there(perhaps then, they’d stop whining about other bridle paths).

    Wellington needs open areas and more playing fields Be aware that this current Council is looking at building on the 10 acres open fields by the Hampton Inn Hotel. What field will be added (not taking another field and reworking it) to make up for taking those 10 acres? What’s the hurry to build on those 10 acres anyway? Don’t we have enough development in Wellington already? It’s time to stop the singular use of Wellington owned land for special groups.

    Beware of Council members who seek to build, build, build and take away open areas.

    What’s with all the Hurry Up and build on Kpark and the 10 acres near Hampton Inn Hotel anyway?

    The Council’s past history indicates their future action….

    Let’s remember that this Council wanted Kpark on SR7 for Horses! Yes, everything for the Equestrians. Yes,Thousands of vehicles transversing SR7 and Stribling Road and they wanted a Horse Park for their political patrons. How absurd! They gave Exclusive Rights (months priority) to this Equestrian group for a Horse Park! Plus, Councilman Greene advocated for putting trailer parking area in this Kpark Horse plan (because the equestrians didn’t want one in their Preserve Area). Everything for the Equestrians. (and, If the proposed Wanderer’s Club land is given over for equestrian use, who will be cleaning up the horse droppings on the golf course land and will there now be bins for horse manure on the property?)

    And now, once again, another Wellington group wants to take the 10 acres of playing fields near the Hotel to build on for Low Income Senior Housing, of which there is no guarantee that only Wellington seniors will get this housing (‘…who cares if seniors from outside the Village live in the Housing…’ said, Councilman Willhite at the Village Workshop Meeting of Oct. 15th). Wellington residents care, Councilman.

    It’s Wellington owned land that should not be given to an outside group to build Low Income Senior Housing which is being advocated by the Senior Committee. Watch and Listen to their past meetings, especially the one where Wellington staff encouraged Kpark developers to give the Senior Chairperson a telephone call (they gave the developers his phone number!) to hear what the Chairperson was demanding.

    Wellington staff said 4, 2-3 storied Low Income Housing buildings would need to be built there for housing. And it does seem that the ‘cone of silence’ has been stirred to NOW hear the Senior Committee Chairperson advocating for the 10 acres of land near the hotel, instead of his previous advocacy for land on Kpark land, for Low Income Senior Housing.

    There are plenty of areas in Wellington for Senior Housing. How about the staff’s Original suggestion of putting the Senior Housing in the multifamily areas of Wellington -where there IS nearby shopping and Fire Rescue Stations-to help change the composition of these Multifamily areas?

    It’s time to save Wellington land, not turn over Wellington owned properties for development for particular singular use.

  2. Wellington already has 14 ac next to the dog park which can be developed to our needs (no horse’s). Also has 68 ac known as K park which was never developed for our parks and open space needs due to maintenance cost.
    It will cost $110,00 a year to maintain 38acplus 2-3 million to build.To boot they want back 1ac which is the best ac of the 38ac.

    That’s why K park was never developed.We need to develop K park and not sell it so someone will make 15-20 million off the taxpayers back. It’s Wellingtons diamond not theirs
    What’s wrong here? The taxpayer will get a bad deal and who will get a cash commission for this?

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