Wellington Discusses PBSO’s Law Enforcement Services Plan

The Wellington Village Council discussed its law enforcement services plan for the 2018-19 fiscal year with Capt. Ronaldo Silva from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

During his presentation, Silva stated that robberies are down 45 percent in the village, but that auto thefts and car burglaries remain an issue in the community.

The council discussed the PBSO’s commercial motor vehicle (CMV) deputies, who have the right to stop commercial vehicles moving through the village, as well as 14 new radar units that will be installed throughout the community to deter speeding.

The council and Silva also discussed the success of Operation Wild Stallion, which was rolled out last year to cut down on underage drinking within Wellington during the winter equestrian season.

There are plans to repeat the program during the upcoming season, but it has not been decided whether or not to announce the operation, giving it as much publicity as in its inaugural year.

The council also questioned Silva on the Aug. 17 shooting at Palm Beach Central High School, in which two adults were injured near the football stadium while a game was in progress. The incident led to a series of new security enhancements for high school football games countywide.

Silva was unable to comment on the active investigation, but he confirmed that no arrests have been made.

“We trained on active shooters at Palm Beach Central,” Silva said. “We were there in no time at all — if not sooner. As a result of this experience, we will be better prepared for the next time. Whenever shots are fired, it’s chaos.”

Mayor Anne Gerwig attempted to downplay the incident and deny the suspects the attention she believes they sought. “We don’t want to sensationalize any of this,” she said.

She thanked Silva for his leadership of the PBSO’s local substation. “Your leadership has been admirable and exemplary,” Gerwig said.

In other business:

• The council unanimously approved its consent agenda without comment or discussion. Among the many budgetary and improvement items passed by the council included a pedestrian bridge across a canal at Flying Cow Road. The project is part of the Pathway and Circulation Plan and utilizes $400,000 from a Florida Department of Transportation grant.

• In her report, Village Attorney Laurie Cohen discussed the current status of the Big Blue Preserve. The property is currently $6 million in arrears on code violations.

“This has been going on before any of us were on the council, excluding Mayor Gerwig,” Councilman John McGovern said.

The council instructed the attorney to move forward against the code violations on the Big Blue Preserve at the next special magistrate hearing session on Sept. 20.

• In her comments, Gerwig revisited a recent discussion concerning Paddock Park Phase I and the code restrictions preventing the keeping of horses on properties there. Vice Mayor Michael Drahos did not support her proposal to discuss the subject given the absence of Councilman Michael Napoleone.

McGovern endorsed Drahos’ suggestion and added his belief that they should also wait for the legal proceedings between property owner Marysue Jacobs, who is leading the charge for a code change, and the village to be completed.

Cohen informed the council that it could take six to nine months for a ruling from the appellate court.

Gerwig expressed her concern that it could take more than a year and that this was about more than just one resident. She vowed to keep raising the issue and said she would revisit the topic at the next meeting with the entire council in attendance.

• Joshua DeTillio, who was recently appointed the new chief executive officer of Palms West Hospital, briefly introduced himself to the council. Council members and DeTillio promised continued support between the hospital and the village.