Wellington Council Approves 50th Street Improvement Plan

The Wellington Village Council.

The Wellington Village Council approved the creation of a plan of improvement Tuesday, Dec. 14 that authorizes its engineer to prepare a plan that would lead to paving a portion of 50th Street South in southern Wellington.

The project would be completed through the creation of the 50th Street Unit of Development through the Acme Improvement District. That way, property owners in the area requesting it would pay for the paving project.

“This will be a long process, and this is just the second part of it,” Deputy Village Manager Tanya Quickel said. “We confirmed the creation of the unit and to hire the engineer to prepare the plan for the improvements.”

The resolution approves a landowners’ request to form the unit of development to serve about 119 acres known as Wellington Classic Estates on the south side of 50th Street, and a 59-acre parcel on the north side.

Mayor Anne Gerwig said the request had been brought forth by property owners who were willing to pay for the improvements.

“It’s not going to be borne by the rest of the community,” Gerwig said. “It’s a unit of development unto itself. It’s a lot of work by staff, so I appreciate the legwork that goes into it.”

Councilman Michael Drahos made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 5-0.

The council also approved a related resolution awarding task orders to provide engineering consulting services for the 50th Street South road improvement project in the amount of $183,605, and the Ousley Farms Road/50th Street intersection project, as well as a budget amendment.

“The second portion is for the Ousley/50th Street intersection, and that is for the Village of Wellington,” Quickel said. “We believe it would be appropriate to do these projects at the same time, so that authorization is tied, but that would not be funded by the landowners.”

The money for the intersection work would be funded by Acme and the Village of Wellington through gas tax money. “This is the design portion to come up with the plan that will come back to you once we have the design to present to you,” she said.

Councilman Michael Napoleone made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 5-0.

In other business, the council approved a resolution asking the School District of Palm Beach County to modify its school attendance boundaries as it relates to the Arden community, located on the north side of Southern Blvd., west of Wellington.

Village Attorney Laurie Cohen said the council had requested that a resolution be brought forward to notify the school district of the village’s concerns relating to school attendance boundaries that include Arden residents in Wellington schools, rather than closer schools in the Loxahatchee area. This has had a traffic and attendance impact for schools in western Wellington.

Vice Mayor John McGovern said that what the council has seen this school year is a harbinger of a worse problem to come, with Arden and other future communities to the west that are likely to come online in the not-too-distant future.

“The fact is that there are other schools in closer geographic proximity, or there are land portions that have been set aside for students of these communities, and these schools need to be built,” McGovern said. “This is now becoming a public safety problem in our community, one that I’ve spoken about for a long time.”

Drahos said the school board has a convoluted method of determining the capacity of schools.

“They are counting portables as part of this,” he said. “Portables, which were there when I was a student 30 years ago, so the idea is that is a suitable space, and we can take on more because we have these 30-year-old portables on our campus. That is unacceptable to me. We have made every diplomatic effort to send our concerns to the school board as it relates to Arden, and Arden from the get-go has continually marketed their community as a Wellington community, by virtue of the fact that the kids who live there can go to Wellington schools.”

Gerwig said the ironic part of the problem is that Wellington has A-rated schools, and parents want to get students into the best schools.

McGovern said that Arden is far from finished, and it is just starting to impact Wellington schools.

“We have got to be heard and be recognized and be acted upon now, because it’s not as if the school district is going to change the zoning map next week,” he said. “We need to pass this resolution, and we need to spur them to act in as expeditious a manner that they can.”

McGovern made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 5-0.