Wellington Parks Master Plan Meeting Brings Ideas To The Table

Parks & Recreation Director Eric Juckett; Joseph Webb, Nicholas Kuhn and Chayanika Mohan of consultant Aecom; and Village Planner Branden Miller.

There was a sparse turnout on Thursday, May 30 at the second of two Wellington Parks Master Plan public input meetings, but that did not stop a few residents from sharing their opinions.

Residents from various committees and associations had already been called upon to give their views, and specifically asked what they want to see in the future for parks and open space in Wellington.

Aecom consultant Joseph Webb described how input from the community will help build the Parks Master Plan.

“My company has been retained by the village to develop a Parks & Recreation Systems Master Plan,” he explained. “That process is a comprehensive look at parks and recreation for the entire village. We have been specifically retained to look at long-term goals. We are working on the need priorities right now. This includes public meetings, focus group meetings, individual interviews and surveys in order to understand the different aspects of the village.”

The master plan is trying to capture a vision of the village in the future by asking the community what they want the park space to look like. The consultants will then take this information and advise village officials.

Wellington resident Colleen Tapia spoke at the Thursday public input meeting.

“I have three children, one in elementary, one going into middle and one that just graduated from high school. What I have noticed living in this area is that I would like to see more ballfields for soccer in western Wellington,” she said. “I, myself, am trying to walk and run on the sidewalks and such. It would be nice to see some trails, some hiking trails, closer into Wellington, so you don’t have to drive. Something like Okeeheelee Park, but in Wellington.”

Dedicated trails would be safer than running along the streets dodging traffic, she said.

“There are many others also falling into my age group and older who are out trying to walk in the traffic,” Tapia said. “The cars produce the exhaust. It would really be nice to have some trails. I think getting outside is becoming a lost art, and I am getting upset with developers coming and developing every little nook and cranny of Wellington. The greenery is gone, and the possible walking areas are gone.”

Richard Cosola, vice chair of the Wellington Tree Board, agreed that there is very little vacant land left.

“You guys do a very good job of developing and improving what we have. It’s not that people are running out to come to these places, especially with the weather. The kids still come out,” he said. “It’s not bad, but I don’t think the village needs more parks. We do have 65 acres of vacant land right off of Forest Hill Blvd. It is called the old [Palm Beach Polo] North Course. It’s privately owned. It has been contentious with the village. Nobody can really do anything with it. However, the village could, hypothetically, buy that land and turn it into something parky… It’s green space that can be enjoyed and not necessarily be ball fields.”

Meetings were set up throughout the week and hosted by Aecom consultants, who are looking for input from residents, as well as staff and the Wellington Village Council.

“It is looking at ways to efficiently and effectively make best use of all of the facilities and not contradict or compete,” Webb explained.

There were two public meetings held last week on Wednesday and Thursday evenings to get a general population of input, and then individual focus groups were sought out. Some of the focus groups were student government associations, Neighborhood Watch members, Women of Wellington members, independent contractors, wellness groups, seniors, cultural arts, sport providers and equestrians.

The general public still has time to give input. There is a survey that citizens can take online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/WellingtonParksSurvey. The survey is voluntary and will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Answers are completely confidential.