I attended and was extremely disappointed with the Dec. 17 Wellington town hall meeting.
I wondered coming in as to why the last-minute format change. I also wondered why this meeting was scheduled a week before Christmas. I believe there would have been more residents attending had this meeting had been held a month earlier or a month later. Since these meetings were finally promised in September, I’m not sure why the first one couldn’t have occurred either earlier, or if you needed time to set it up, to have it after the New Year.
I was one of the first to arrive and was greeted by a two-to-three-minute video. I could barely hear it, and that was in a relatively empty room at the time. I mentioned it to Councilman Tanya Siskind, who said they would make it louder once more people arrived. Although the volume was increased, the noise level in the room still made it difficult to hear.
The best word to describe the individual stations was chaotic. One or two village employees at a station was not enough to handle the crowd of people. Residents who were getting their first exposure to the lakefront initiative left angry and confused. I talked to residents, some of whom have lived here way longer than I have (I moved to Wellington on 2005), and they were not happy. The area to fill out comment cards was out of the way, and I’m sure there were many who left without filling them out. What bothers me is that the village wasn’t going to get input on this, and it was only after getting some resistance from some businesses and residents that they gave in, although I rate this meeting a failure.
Now it’s very easy to complain, and as a Wellington resident and business owner, I do appreciate the time and effort the Wellington Village Council puts into their positions. Here is my two cents:
• I believe that we should start off by looking to improve what we are already doing. This week’s meeting was only the second time that I set foot into the new Wellington Community Center. For everyone else I asked, it was either their first or second time. How can we build a successful town center if our beautiful community center is underutilized?
• The monthly lakeside events are nice, and the amphitheater concerts are great. Now that both my kids are away at school, I have been attending more often.
• That brings me to the next topic: revenue. Has there ever been a revenue study as to what a town center will bring in financially to the community? This is a big deal, and before you undertake any thought of a town center, we need to do some extensive studies. Is there a way to pick the brain of other towns who have done what you are looking to do as far as a town center? I know Weston has a town center by the water and have had it, I believe, at least 20 years.
• As far as the meetings, let’s not repeat the one held this week. Here is a suggestion: Get focus groups of no more than 10 people. Have them in a room with a village employee. The goal would be to get opinions of all demographics from within the Wellington community. I think we have to realize that the demographics of Wellington are changing. In 2005, there were a lot of young families moving in. This has since changed. In 10 to 20 years, we may have younger families coming back. Communities go through change, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s how we as a community handle it that will determine the long-term future of Wellington.
As I see it, this is a process. It is one that should not be rushed. The final product may not happen until after we’re all long gone, but it should be one that all Wellington residents are proud of.
We moved to Wellington because it was a great place to raise a family. I have no regrets about this decision. As my family morphs to a different demographic, I want to stay. This is my home.
Stuart Hack, Wellington