By Eve Rosen
Members of the Wellington Senior Advisory Committee raised concerns Thursday, June 14 that the Wellington Seniors Club will be capping its membership and closing admission to additional senior citizens from Wellington.
The issue was brought up by Committee Member Veronica McCue, who earlier in the meeting was tapped as the committee’s new chair.
“To this committee, I would like to respectfully recommend that the Wellington Village Council investigate, discuss and answer the two main questions of, ‘Who made this decision?’ and ‘Why this decision was made?’” she said.
McCue said closing the club to new members runs counter to its mission. “The Wellington Seniors Club, as a nonprofit organization, who by familiarity, distinction and reference is associated as the Village of Wellington Seniors Club [should explain why it] will be permitted to close its admission to senior residents of Wellington for any reason, while still allowing non-residents to maintain their membership,” she said.
The reason behind the policy change is due to the club’s popularity, and the fact that its monthly luncheon attendance is overwhelming the space available.
“The reason is that we don’t have the facilities to handle them,” said Howard Trager, a member of the Senior Advisory Committee and also a director of the quasi-independent Wellington Seniors Club.
Some 300 members attend meetings in the senior-friendly ballroom of the Wellington Community Center, and the fire marshal’s order states that the room cannot hold any more.
Capping membership did not sit well as a solution for McCue.
“I’m not trying to tell the senior club what to do, far be it from that, we have now closed admission to the only social club for residents of Wellington ages 55 and over,” McCue said. “I don’t think that residents of Wellington should be deprived of a social activity from the town.”
Trager said that the action falls within the rules to the club.
“At the risk of violating the Sunshine Law, if you check, our bylaws state that we have the right to withhold membership at any given time for whatever reason,” he said. “The reason is that we don’t have the facilities to handle them.”
The motion to bring this issue to the Wellington Village Council passed by a vote of 4-1 with Trager dissenting.
Public comments all focused around this particular issue, where one resident said that Wellington should have more free activities for seniors and provide more space for senior activities.
This led to a discussion on the long-recurring topic of building a dedicated senior center, such as a ground floor facility suggested by Committee Member Sampson Nebb.
Another speaker brought up that even if such a senior center were built, there still would not be enough room for all Wellington seniors, which recent data puts at approximately 10,000 people.
Wellington Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes attended the meeting and discussed the issue.
“I think we can look at other facilities to bridge the gap that we have with all the activities at the community club, which is not enough for the seniors,” Barnes said. “I can tell you right now that with all the projects on the horizon, and the way the budget is, you are correct, and I don’t see a building for you coming up soon, but we can certainly look at other facilities open to us.”
In other business, the committee chose its chair for the upcoming year. McCue was tapped for the position, taking over the gavel from Trager. Committee Member Sharon Lascola was named vice chair.
The panel also welcomed new Committee Member Carlos Poveda and announced that the hurricane preparedness presentation originally scheduled for that meeting will be covered at the July meeting.
The committee also discussed the recent announcement of a data breach of Wellington’s Click2gov online payment system. Reports indicate this data breach affected only people who made one-time, online credit or debit card payments on Click2gov sometime between February 2017 and February 2018. Only the individuals who made these one-time payments should contact their bank for a replacement credit or debit card. Recurring transactions were not compromised.
The STAR program, which is a way for senior citizens in Wellington to get eight free round trips in Wellington per month, is growing in ridership, and a new mall walk exercise activity has been instituted at the Mall at Wellington Green.
For more information about senior activities in Wellington, visit www.wellingtonfl.gov/seniors.