When we purchased the professional center, I did not vote to authorize the Mayor (Bob Margolis) to close on the sale with only 2 weeks of due diligence. I also requested that the council “master plan” the site.
The property was purchased at full value if not higher, as a functioning business center. The land value itself did not warrant the sale price, and we agreed to operate the building for at least 2 additional years as a business center.
My request to master plan the site was ignored and the council did not state a purpose other than “to the land bank” the property.
More recently as the council has shown interest into activation of the waterfront, and talked extensively about the site, I brought up the water quality issue of water sports in the water that has been a retention pond for years.
Brain-eating Amoeba is a risk in stagnant freshwater bodies in Florida, especially in the warm summer months. I also brought up the expense and risk involved with operating/owning a restaurant at the site. The nuisance that noise traveling over water presents would be a significant problem if a restaurant was located on or over the water. Many homes back up to the lake.
I also did not agree with the push to remove the existing recreational competition pool (and replace it with a resort style pool) due to the extensive use of it by swim teams and our residents. We spent over $2 million dollars on it in 2010 to bring it up to the standard that it is now- one of the best pools in the State of Florida according to swimmers.
I also expressed concerns over the demolition of the Lake Wellington Professional center. Many businesses rely on it and the repurposing of that portion of the site as a paddle sports rental area did not meet a need that warrants demolition of the building, in my opinion.
While the lake is used by many rowers and is quite fun to kayak on, I think that we can easily accomplish kayak rentals with the property that is there now. Stand up paddle boarding should probably not be promoted due to the risk of infection if you end up in the water. We received an email about the risk of infection from a local pediatrician that should be noted also.
The community center was designed and built with a purpose of activating the waterfront. The building is grossly underused in this regard.
We should be making use of the improvements that are there and adding some outdoor furniture to allow residents to enjoy the lake views before we spend extensive amounts of tax dollars to redesign the area.
We have already spent $20,000 on the preliminary plans that we have, and I don’t think that we are ready to move onto the “hard design” phase. I think we could add floating docks for the boaters to use, add walkways and even an interactive fountain of some sort, but the waterfront plans that we have now, are not something that I consider a benefit to the community. If we are going to demolish the building, it should be for a good purpose.
The improvements to the professional building are not necessary apart from the roof replacement or repair. The items like fire sprinklers, new windows, flooring etc. are simply a wish list and should not be done unless the council desires to continue the use of the building as a business incubator for a significant time period. These thoughts are strictly my opinion but are based on facts and my interactions with the community.
Mayor Anne Millington Gerwig
Village of Wellington