$1.1 Million Check Ends Longstanding Roadwork Issue Near Equestrian Village

The Wellington Village Council.

A longstanding issue regarding road construction at the corner of Pierson Road and South Shore Blvd. ended at the Tuesday, Aug. 9 meeting of the Wellington Village Council with the acceptance of a check from the owners of the Equestrian Village site, current home of the Global Dressage Festival.

The area was formally designated as a commercial equestrian arena in 2013, along with a whole series of conditions to be met before owner Mark Bellissimo and Wellington Equestrian Partners could fully use the designation. One condition, a series of improvements made to the connecting roadways, has remained unfinished.

Since that condition was never met, every year, the council has had to review and approve a special use permit to allow the Global Dressage Festival, which would not be necessary once the commercial equestrian arena designation was in full force.

Council members have become increasingly annoyed by the roadway delays, especially since the village has wanted to make improvements in that area as well, and could not until the Equestrian Village work was done.

But last month, the owners of Equestrian Village submitted a check for $1,145,931.88 to be put toward the road construction, which will now be done by the village along with the other necessary roadwork.

Submitting a check for the work was an option put on the table several years ago, and the amount was based on the 2016 estimate for the improvements.

“Why are we comfortable using a 2016 cost estimate?” Councilman Michael Napoleone asked.

Village Manager Jim Barnes explained that there was no one currently able to provide an updated estimate. A new engineer would need to be hired and go through the entire process again, which would prolong the issue further.

Vice Mayor Michael Drahos said the village should take the money and end the long-running saga.

“Coupled with the fact that there is work at this intersection that we’ve been wanting to do for a long time that has been held up by this,” he said. “I want to get on with it already and get the work going. I see this as a bird in the hand situation. It gives us the money. It frees us up to do the work that we want to do, and we finally get to move on from this issue.”

Councilman John McGovern made it clear that the council was taking this opportunity to bring the long-awaited issue to a close by accepting satisfaction of the resolution by payment. Now Wellington can finally move forward with the road improvements.

“Had these improvements been done at the time, and then we came in and did the improvements to the intersection, they would have torn it up again. We are doing major drainage work,” Mayor Anne Gerwig noted. “This is a trade-off, and I agree, it’s a bird in the hand, and we would like to go ahead and look at this intersection — particularly for the drainage and the traffic.”

Drahos made a motion to approve the acceptance of the payment, which passed 4-0 with Councilwoman Tanya Siskind not present for the vote.