Council Authorizes Traffic Improvements Near Wellington El

The Wellington Village Council with Wellington Community Foundation board members. (L-R) Joanna Boynton, Robbin Lee, Councilman John McGovern, Councilwoman Tanya Siskind, Mayor Anne Gerwig, Tom Wenham, Maria Becker, Councilman Michael Napoleone, James Seder, Mickey Smith, Dr. Gordon Johnson and Vice Mayor Michael Drahos.

The Wellington Village Council authorized a construction contract to incorporate a left-turn lane on Big Blue Trace and Barberry Drive on Tuesday, May 8. The turn lane and other traffic improvements on Big Blue Trace are expected to improve traffic circulation around Wellington Elementary School.

Also included in the project is the renovation of surrounding walkways, along with culvert and drainage improvements.

“The goal here is to increase school safety, provide better drainage and to have better traffic flow in this area,” Councilman John McGovern said, noting that the project has been under discussion since at least 2015.

Rio-Bak Corporation was awarded the construction contract, with engineering services awarded to Kimley-Horn & Associates.

Because of the time-sensitive nature of the project, Mayor Anne Gerwig asked the village staff’s opinion on whether Rio-Bak would be able to have the project completed before students return to school in August.

Village Engineer Tom Lundeen said the goal is to have most of the work done by then.

“Right now, I would like to get them started with the culvert work underneath the roadway,” he said. “I want to wait to start switching traffic around until school is out. And once we get that done, the big push is going to be getting the pathway and curbing done around [Wellington Elementary] before school starts. We may not have the roadway and all the sodding and everything complete before school starts, but we’re going to give it our best shot. It is going to look beautiful in the end.”

Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes also assured the council that Rio-Bak is familiar with the village’s time-sensitive concerns when it comes to renovation projects.

A priority in the project is to at the very least have the pathway around the school completed before students return, since there is a large number of children who walk and bike to school regularly.

“Our goal is to at least try to complete the work that is along the pathway, so that the pathway will be operational by the time school starts, since that is the heaviest-traveled area for those who walk and bike to school,” Barnes explained. “So, this will go a long way in still allowing safe and manageable access to the school.”

Gerwig encouraged families in surrounding neighborhoods to take advantage of their proximity to the school.

“It is a huge benefit for the community if those who can, ride their bikes and walk to the neighborhood schools,” she said.

In other business, the council accepted a check for the sum of $5,800 from the Wellington Community Foundation. The check was for a set of four different projects that village staff has been working on alongside the foundation.

“[We] are here this evening to present the village council with a check for the amount of $5,800,” said Tom Wenham, chair of the Wellington Community Foundation. “This check will be the first of many checks as part of the work we do with the village staff to benefit and support our Wellington seniors, veterans and children to always improve their quality of life in our great hometown.”

The projects being funded by the foundation included four different home repairs and improvements, such as replacing a non-functioning water heater and installing a ramp at a senior resident’s home to facilitate the use of a scooter.

“This is a perfect example of why I love this charity so much,” Vice Mayor Michael Drahos said. “Not only is it Wellington based, but it also has immediate and direct impact on people’s lives. These are individuals who are Wellington based and needed the help, and you guys were able to do it.”

The collaboration between the council, village staff and the foundation on the projects is a result of the memorandum of understanding that was signed in February.

“I just want to say thank you to the entire board,” McGovern said. “The mayor and I were here when members of a prior council wanted this organization to go away. She and I — and the village attorney and the village manager — said no, in the hopes that this organization could be what we always knew it could be — a hallmark of everything we think is good about Wellington.