By Dani Salgueiro
The Wellington Village Council voted Tuesday, Feb. 27 to authorize a contract for the engineering and architectural services of Kimley-Horn & Associates for the Greenbriar and South Shore park projects.
The renovation of South Shore Park, previously called Wellington Community Park, was already in the planning stages, while the Greenbriar Park project was approved by the council in January.
At the Jan. 23 meeting, the council decided to begin both projects concurrently in order to get additional recreational fields in use as soon as possible.
“Getting these two parks done and getting them done quickly and to Wellington standards is something that is important to us,” Vice Mayor John McGovern said.
The projects will be funded with money from the one-cent sales surtax approved by voters in 2016.
Since the last council meeting, Kimley-Horn came up with a new and innovative design for what a future South Shore Park may look like. Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes explained that the new design maximizes all possible usage of the space available.
The design incorporates the existing six fields and supporting facilities, such as restrooms and concession stands, as well as the sketch of a future gymnasium.
Barnes also detailed some of the ideas, as well as potential issues, regarding the Greenbriar Park project, after Kimley-Horn visited and evaluated that park space, which is located adjacent to the Wellington Dog Park.
Barnes noted the potential need to rearrange some of the park’s facilities, such as its bigger fields and its parking lot, in order to make the most out of the park’s space.
“One of the things that stood out in the process of selecting professionals to do the work that we are looking for was the fact that this firm went in and actually took a fresh look at these parks,” Village Manager Paul Schofield said.
Schofield explained that the $159,320 in engineering and architectural services approved by the council on Tuesday will be used for the planning, programming and surveying, as well as geo-technical services to get the ball moving on both park projects.
“We have to be completed with this phase by early summer,” Barnes said. “The goal is to be under construction by the end of the year.”
With the exception of Mayor Anne Gerwig, who recused herself prior to the vote because of her company’s ties to some of the subcontractors involved in the proposal, the council’s vote to authorize Kimley-Horn’s services for the two parks was unanimous.
In other business:
• The council engaged in a timely conversation regarding school safety with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Rolando Silva, commander of District 8 in Wellington, and Major Eli Cano of the Palm Beach County School District Police Department.
The conversation was in light of the deadly school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County on Feb. 14 and stressed the many precautions that are being taken by Palm Beach County schools as a result of it.
“It was really way too close to home,” Gerwig told the officers. “But we are going to do what we can as a community to stand behind you.”
Cano, who oversees school police throughout the entire county, told the council that, as a result of the shooting, his department has been going through and reviewing emergency protocols to ensure that all schools in Palm Beach County are made safer and better equipped.
Cano noted that the department is now also prioritizing the importance of preparing bus drivers to have an emergency protocol.
Since Gov. Rick Scott proposed his plan to have at least one officer in each public school — more specifically, one officer per every thousand students — Cano said that the Palm Beach County School District Police Department is in the process of hiring more officers for schools across the district.
McGovern stressed the importance of improving communication between the school police and the PBSO. Silva assured him that the PBSO’s goal is to assure an efficient flow of communication between his agency, the school police and all district schools.
“We’re trying to look at what happened and see what lessons are learned and insure, to the best of our ability, that something like that doesn’t happen here in Palm Beach County,” Silva said.
• Also Tuesday, Gerwig brought up whether or not it would be possible to implement equestrian zoning for parts of the Paddock Park neighborhood, especially the two-acre properties, where keeping horses is not currently allowed.
Gerwig proposed surveying property owners to see if they would be interested, as Paddock Park was originally designed for people to have the option for small barns or farms if they desired.
Gerwig, who lives the area, explained that though the properties have the space for it, and were sold as homes with barns in the past, it is no longer permissible to sell properties to someone who wishes to have a small barn.
The issue has been brought up before, most recently about 10 years ago, without changes made to the current zoning.
Gerwig acknowledged the controversy of the topic, but aimed to start the conversation within the community to find out whether it would be something that residents are interested in or not.
The council agreed to have a more in-depth discussion about the subject in the near future.