By Chris Levy
The Village of Wellington is again considering a linear park in the Folkstone/Yarmouth neighborhood as part of its Safe Neighborhoods Program, and a community information session on the proposal will be held at the park site on Thursday, Aug. 23.
If approved, the park would occupy the section of Folkstone Circle that currently connects Yarmouth Court with Carlton Street. A similar plan was considered several years ago, but neighborhood opposition at the time prompted the village not to proceed.
The design of the park has not been finalized, but a concept shown at the Wellington Village Council’s budget workshop on Monday, Aug. 13 provided some idea what could be achieved in the available space. The concept included walking paths to maintain a pedestrian thoroughfare between Yarmouth Court and Carlton Street, a playground area and a basketball court.
Director of Administrative & Financial Services Tanya Quickel did stress that the concept was not finalized and would change.
When questioned by Mayor Anne Gerwig about whether or not the residents of the Folkstone/Yarmouth neighborhood would now support such a park, Village Manager Paul Schofield replied affirmatively and said that he believed the climate had changed.
“They’re a much more cohesive neighborhood now,” Schofield said. “There’s not the divide between the multi-family and the single family. The neighborhood watch has done very, very well. And the Community Services Department has been in that neighborhood a lot.”
Schofield and Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes stressed the work that the village had performed in the neighborhood in lieu of the previously considered park. This included repaving the roads, improved lighting and the addition of security cameras. The Community Services Department work has also been praised in terms of reaching out to residents of properties bordering the proposed park, they added.
Vice Mayor Michael Drahos pressed Schofield about any resistance to the proposal.
“We have not seen resistance from them,” Schofield replied. “Those are rental units on both sides.”
Several council members did raise questions about the concerns of single-family property owners opposite the park on Carlton Street and Yarmouth Court, but less clarity was offered concerning their opinions.
Schofield further informed the council that they would be provided with neighborhood input before receiving the final plan for the park. That community feedback will be received largely from a meeting to be held at the proposed park site on Thursday, Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. In attendance will be representatives from the Community Services, Engineering and Public Works departments.
Not all comments concerning the proposed park were positive. Andy Hermida, president of one of Yarmouth Court’s affected neighborhood HOAs, spoke out against the park at the Tuesday, Aug. 14 council meeting.
Concerned residents of that neighborhood began contacting him after receiving notices about the Aug. 23 community meeting, he said.
Hermida informed the council that many residents remained opposed to the park, as it would deprive them of one of their access streets. He further added that he hoped that the neighborhood and the council could work together to find a solution.
In response to Hermida’s statement, both Gerwig and other council members expressed an interest in attending the Aug. 23 meeting. For his part, Schofield assured both the residents and the council that the park would not be forced upon them against their will.
The budget for the proposed park will be voted upon as part of the upcoming capital outlay budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, pending feedback from the neighborhood.