The Wellington Village Council gave final approval Tuesday to the adoption of an amended bridle trail map to the village’s comprehensive plan that shows not only existing trails but future trails that the village would like to develop.
Projects Manager Mike O’Dell said the original bridle trail map was adopted in 2004 and approved by the Equestrian Preserve Committee in 2010.
“This is intended to memorialize the aspiration plan, which provides for the future expansion of it,” O’Dell said.
The previous map had a circulation master plan depicting the private and public trail system, he explained.
“It does not provide any greater detail other than providing that information, but there has also been some links to Section 24, Rustic Ranches and Flying Cow Road, which have also been provided on the new circulation map,” O’Dell said. “We also depicted locations of venues within the Village of Wellington for equestrian purposes.”
O’Dell said the village has been working with Deeridge Farm for a bridle path along Pierson Road from Southfields Road to 120th Avenue South, completed a bridle path at Palm Beach Equine on Pierson Road from South Shore Blvd. to Equestrian Club Road, is working on future bridle path improvements on Pierson Road from Flying Cow Road to Ousley Farms Road, and is continuing coordination with Grand Prix Farms’ owners to secure a public bridle path on Pierson Road from Ousley Farms Road to Gene Mische Way.
Wellington staff also recently completed improvements along South Shore Blvd. to Equestrian Club Road.
“That was our test area that we did this year, and it appears like it’s holding up quite well,” O’Dell said. “We will continue to move forward with Grand Prix Farms as well.”
He said the village has received approvals for the map from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, the South Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Transportation. The Planning, Zoning & Adjustment Board gave unanimous approval last October.
Councilman Matt Willhite asked O’Dell whether a consultant recently hired had looked at the map, and asked about the scope of the consultant’s work.
“They’re evaluating the work that has been completed to date since the 2010 adoption,” O’Dell said. “They’re looking at improvements and suggesting recommendations for expansions and capital projects.”
Willhite also asked about the aspirational aspect of the map.
“Some of it says ‘existing’ and ‘currently planned,’ but does that include aspirational?” Willhite asked. “Are there other areas that we’re looking, and this is just the basic, and is that what you and this company are currently doing? Where do we go with that aspirational part, because obviously there are more connections I’d like to show.”
O’Dell said that there are many areas of the map where consent from the property owners is needed to build or improve trails, and there are other properties whose developers the village will attempt to get agreement from to construct a bridle trail.
Village Manager Paul Schofield said the aspirational portion of the map would include private areas that the village would like to make public.
“We need a reasonable basis for requiring the dedication of the bridle paths,” Schofield said. “It’s aspirational in the sense that the comprehensive plan is a generalized document and the details are provided either in the land development regulations or in one of the overlay districts.”
Vice Mayor John Greene asked about the colors of the trails indicated on the map, and O’Dell said the plan was originally developed by a consulting firm in 2004 to provide riders with a methodology for understanding where they were on the trails.
“There are posts currently out in the trails that delineate red trail, green trail, blue trail, and it was a means of trying to communicate to the public and to our community our trail system itself,” O’Dell said. “Some of the trails have taken on the names of the community, such as Saddle Trail, the blue trail which is within the community. There’s probably some rationale to speak to the community and ask them how they want to refer to them.”
Greene, who said he did not favor hiring a consultant at the time, asked what the cost was, and O’Dell said it was about $22,000.
Greene asked whether the village had personnel who could supervise the project internally. “I can’t imagine that people on our staff don’t have a better handle on our community and the interconnectivity between these trails,” he said.
Schofield said the village hires consultants for a variety of reasons.
“We do not have the staffing and expertise to provide every single purpose. In addition to equestrian trails, Mr. O’Dell is working on other projects,” Schofield said. “Yes, Mr. O’Dell was a consultant before we hired him. One of his assignments was the equestrian master plan, but in terms of actually designing equestrian trails, he would never have the experience to do that.”
Schofield said one critical aspect of the trail planning was to improve drainage on the trails.
“Typically, in the wet season, we can see large puddles, especially in the southwest part of the village,” Schofield said. “Those things have been addressed by widening the canals and improving the pump stations and those types of things. The equestrian master plan will include things like how you get from venue to venue and what do we need to do to roadways.”
Greene added that there has been discussion of a municipal riding facility in the village for the average rider.
O’Dell said there are some legal issues, including insurance, but one of the conversations has been with the county about the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, although accessibility would be an issue because it is separated from Wellington by Florida’s Turnpike.
“They have been looking for a vendor for a couple of years to do exactly what you’re asking,” O’Dell said, adding that the master plan addresses a public riding facility.
He added that they have also met with representatives of the Town of Loxahatchee Groves about the possibility of an equestrian overpass on Southern Blvd.
Willhite made a motion to approve the bridle trail map, which carried unanimously.