I had the misfortune of watching this week’s Wellington Village Council meeting, in particular the K-Park agenda item.
Apparently, insufficient homework was completed by the council, for they were not ready for the Castellina contingent and a few others who spoke vehemently against five of the six applications.
Although the council sat respectfully and quietly for three or four hours while the residents complained, they were not afforded the same courtesy, and the meeting was disrupted numerous times.
Most communities have a police presence in attendance, and they escort unruly citizens out of the meetings to allow business to continue. Sadly, the council did not use this necessary tool.
Before the meeting, the council should have had answers to the following questions:
1. Do we need another park? Simple solution: Have staff do a survey of existing undeveloped properties and build out, and determine if we meet self-imposed ratios of park and open space to residents/houses. If so, saving the park (as Mayor Bob Margolis suggests) is not necessary.
2. Do we need a hotel? Same process as above. If the answer is yes, then where should we locate the hotel? On a major thoroughfare with the least amount of intrusion into Wellington and the least negative impact? Obviously the State Road 7 and Southern Blvd. corridors would be most appropriate, and not in the Equestrian Preserve Area or any internal Wellington site that would cause quality of life issues and traffic.
3. Let the residents in attendance know the previous history of K-Park such as a state university attempting to locate there, with all its traffic and other negative aspects.
This K-Park site has always considered in the mix a commercial element that would pay for the village’s cost of buying the park; this is nothing new.
Councilman John Greene wants Councilwoman Anne Gerwig to vote on this issue despite the fact that the county’s Commission on Ethics has advised her of a possible conflict of interest with one of the applicants. So either Greene wants to flaunt the Commission on Ethics, or he wants one of the applicants to withdraw, neither of which is his business at all. Greene also wants, rather belatedly, to kick this can down the road (typical politics) to allow more public input.
Be advised, that just using this meeting as an example, 99 percent of the people in attendance, including Greene himself, live in the adjoining community. This phenomenon is called NIMBY (not in my backyard) and is commonplace and occurs every day somewhere in the United States as people adjacent and/or contiguous to proposed construction voice their displeasure.
When Binks Forest went through a similar circumstance and close to 200 townhomes were proposed on a golf course, 95 percent of the people in attendance speaking against it were its neighbors. Zoning changes were made and shortly construction will begin.
This is how democracy works. It’s called compromise. In Binks, we saved the golf course (however, now it is for sale again), but the main theme is no matter where you build, somebody is going to complain and all the meetings, committees and studies will not change the facts of the case. Postponing is only kicking the can down the road and the council members not doing their job by making decisions that they were voted into office to make. If everything were to go out to a referendum, we wouldn’t need elected leaders.
George Unger, Wellington