Masked and socially distanced, the Wellington Village Council met Tuesday, June 23 in the council chambers for a meeting that included a public hearing for a new parking citation program.
Provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the new program will provide a more cost-effective software.
Planning, Zoning & Building Director Tim Stillings said that other benefits to the village are the lack of printing costs to prepare ticket books, alleviating problems reading handwriting, the ability of all officers to hand out citations, increased collections and the inclusion of crash data.
The parking citation program item was approved without public comment. However, a number of people were on hand to speak about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in the area, continuing on issues raised at the previous meeting June 9.
During the public forum, several residents spoke, some new speakers expressing support for the village and many who had attended an attempted march from Okeeheelee Park to Wellington, which led to an hours-long standoff with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Several speakers remarked that they had marched to Mar-a-Lago with less problems offered by law enforcement than was presented during the walk down Forest Hill Blvd.
At the June 9 meeting, Mayor Anne Gerwig invited the protesters to continue making their concerns known. While her goal was to continue the conversation at public meetings, it was construed as authorizing a protest by some in the audience. Gerwig said she was angry that her comments had been twisted and taken out of context.
During his report, Village Manager Paul Schofield noted that the Wellington Aquatics Complex was now closed temporarily due to an employee having tested positive for COVID-19.
“It was my decision to make the emergency closing order to close the pool. We are a hotspot in Palm Beach County,” Schofield said. “I would rather have people angry at me and safe.”
Further, Schofield said that the local hospitals are at a higher occupancy but are not yet overloaded.
On a more positive note, an additional $5,000 was added to the budget for an additional fireworks display. Details on plans for two drive-in fireworks shows on Saturday, July 4 can be found at www.wellingtonfl.gov/july4th.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14 in the council chambers, although the Zoom software system could be used if COVID-19 cases continue to rise. The council meeting is the only Wellington governmental meeting that is currently being held in person with the others held virtually.