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Wellington businesses hope for more public input during budget approval process

Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-18 11:59:14-04

Business could be on the chopping block in Wellington.

The village council is getting closer to approving the money to build a beach and add more recreational development along Lake Wellington.

That transformation involves tearing down the Lake Wellington Professional Centre and putting more 150 businesses on the curb.

With less than 2 percent available commercial space in Wellington, some businesses believe they may have to move out of Wellington if forced to relocate.

The mayor is now speaking out about the project and what she hopes can be done.

“I think we need to start back at square one," she said.

Mayor Ann Gerwig said she's taking the side of the businesses facing the boot.

“I think it’s important that we grow that section of our community," she said.

The Wellington village council recently passed the first reading of their budget 4 to 1, with the mayor as the only one against it.

“We really are a team and it’s really sad to me that we don’t seem to be working that way on this project," she said.

That budget includes $1.2 million set aside to for the design and site prep to turn a part of Lake Wellington into a beach and recreational area, right where the office building sits. 

As previously reported, village officials own the building but have stressed that this project is in the very very early phases, so these plans could change.

“We need to be sure that we’re doing something responsible if we’re going to demolish buildings that are well used 150 local businesses," said Gerwig.

The total project cost is upwards of $8 million, according to the mayor.

“That's a lot of money for a passive park," said attorney Dermot McMahon, who has worked out of the building for nearly 10 years.

McMahon fears moving far from Wellington just to find another office.

“The cost of that, the moving, everything else -- plus the potential of losing clients," he said.

McMahon said he and his business neighbors want the village to give them the chance to say something.

"They have no public input. I wish they would get the public input scheduled, have more meetings or surveys -- so they can get people involved in this," he said.

And while Gerwig says her hands are tied, she hopes more people will get involved -- with just two more meetings to go.

“If the residents don’t like what we’re doing, they need to speak up," she said.

The budget's second reading will be next Tuesday, Sept. 25.

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