Wellington’s annual Directions Workshop and Drive Around set for this Friday and Saturday is the Wellington Village Council’s endeavor to develop a vision for what it wants the community to look like in the future. The focus this year will be on housing issues.
Wellington Projects Manager Mike O’Dell said this annual meeting is intended to inform council members of trends and activities that village staff sees within and around Wellington.
“We would like to get the council’s feedback and their reaction to those type of activities that are going on around us,” O’Dell said, adding that the focus will be both on immediate concerns and long-term issues.
Part of the workshop includes a bus drive in and around the village focused on housing.
“Last year… we kind of did all of Wellington,” O’Dell said. “This year, we’re going to focus on housing. It’s one of our greatest assets as a community, and so we would like to talk to them about our aging housing stock. That goes in concert with the idea that we’ve got something in the neighborhood of 15,000 to 16,000 dwelling units to our north and west that will be coming online. So, as we look at those housing units coming online, and we look at the age of our housing stock, how is it that we want to market ourselves and be ready for that change?”
O’Dell said he plans to share things both good and bad that are happening within the community.
The focus on housing also fits in with the village’s review of the Uniform Land Development Code (ULDC), which is undergoing a full review by staff and advisory boards, with a refocus from development to redevelopment.
“We’re looking for direction, but we also want to inform the council that in order to do some redevelopment and reinvestment, we need to talk to them about where is it that they’d like to see reinvestment. Is it public dollars that they would like to see go into reinvestment? Is there redevelopment that they want to see? Are there incentives they are willing to talk about to make those uses happen?” O’Dell explained.
The answers to those questions could lead village staff to bring back programs designed to stimulate redevelopment.
The Saturday workshop will be at the Wellington Municipal Complex at 9 a.m. in conference rooms 1E and 1F.
Village Manager Paul Schofield said the annual workshops have been going by a number of names, sometimes called “visioning” and other years “directions.” He added that this year’s document will be posted on the village’s web site soon.
“I want to talk to them about where we want to go over the next 10 to 20 years,” he said. “We’re going to talk about housing, we’re going to talk about finance, we’re going to talk about what our roads are going to look like and what we’re going to do with the half-cent surtax.”
He said the workshop is also an important step in beginning budget discussions.
“We talk to them about where we’ve come, what the budgetary prospects are, what we think we need to do and where we need to hit big budget items,” Schofield said. “I want them to have an active part in this year’s budget and planning, because we’re government, and it’s hard to change directions in one year. It takes a couple of years, and a lot of years to make significant changes.”
He added that the council members are better at keeping their hands on the pulse of the community and what residents really want. “It’s our opportunity to sit them down where they’re not having to make votes, they’re not having to worry about who’s sitting out there in the audience who doesn’t like what they may or may not do,” Schofield said. “This is a chance where they really get to think about what they want Wellington to be.”
One of the interesting things about this year’s session is that two of the council members grew up in Wellington and chose to come back after college, he said.
“When you grew up and went to school, why did you come back? Why did you choose the neighborhoods you’re in?” Schofield asked rhetorically. “Those are the kinds of things that people their age are going to be making decisions about, and we want Wellington to continue to be a viable choice going into the future.”