- Kristina Webb Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
A young mother holds her child as she stands next to her car and speaks with a code enforcement officer. An elderly man stands outside his home speaking with a law enforcement officer.
These are scenes you could find during one of Wellington’s Walk and Talk program installments, where village staff and officials join Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies to hoof it through neighborhoods, answer questions and hear feedback.
The program put on by the village’s Community Services Department has been around in some form for nearly a decade, and provides Wellington residents an opportunity to have a face-to-face conversation about the issues and programs that affect their neighborhood.
The Walk and Talk program will be in these neighborhoods from 4-6 p.m.: Pine Valley on Jan. 9, Folkestone/Yarmouth on Jan. 23, Goldenrod on Feb. 6, the multi-family homes on 12th Fairway on Feb. 20, Periwinkle/Lily on March 6, the south side of Hawthorne on March 13 and Westhampton on March 20.
The concerns raised during each Walk and Talk can vary depending on the neighborhood and time of year, Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes said.
“It truly is reaching out to the residents,” he said.
The Walk and Talks also give residents the chance to meet people behind their utilities requests, or code compliance notices, or even the village’s annual holiday food and toy drives, which are organized by Community Services.
“You’re putting faces with names and you have a contact, so it’s not a blind number that you’re calling at Village Hall,” Barnes said.
The Community Services Department also coordinates with Neighborhood Watch groups, some of which have evolved from Walk and Talks through the years, Barnes said.
Where a Walk and Talk focuses on individual residents’ concerns, a Neighborhood Watch meeting can be a way for residents to “provide the village with their concerns and comments more effectively as a group,” Barnes said.
He added that entire neighborhoods are able to meet with essentially the same team that does the Walk and Talks: Community Services, code compliance, PBSO and other village staff and officials.
Many questions involve crime or neighborhood upkeep. And Walk and Talks can be scheduled to address issues the village sees as well. After a rash of car burglaries this fall, members of the village council joined staff to go door-to-door in one of the affected shopping plazas.
While Barnes acknowledged the team members may not have all the answers at the time, they take notes and call residents back, or have a person in the appropriate department reach out instead.
“Even if we’re just a clearinghouse for additional information sources, that’s a big help to residents,” Barnes said.
“The big thing is we’re bringing the village to them,” he added.
For more information about Wellington’s Walk and Talk or Neighborhood Watch programs, go to www.wellingtonfl.gov or call Wellington’s Community Services Department at 561-791-4796.