Residents are about to see workers bustling along the property line at one of the village’s more controversial properties. But officials want to make sure you understand: It doesn’t mean larger plans are in play.
Wellington’s council on Tuesday night voted 4-0, with Councilman Michael Napoleone absent, to approve a $360,000 contract with A Cut Above Landscape and Maintenance to build a landscape buffer along the 70-acre K-Park property on the southwest corner of Stribling Way and State Road 7.
The work will be paid for using money collected between 2002 and 2013 that came from developments along State Road 7 and must be used for beautification projects along that corridor, Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes said.
The project serves two purposes, he said: Using that money, and using trees from the village’s nursery on Greenbriar Boulevard to clear that space as Wellington plans to build a park there in coming years.
But the work does not signal any development plans for K-Park itself, Vice Mayor Michael Drahos said. “That’s an important rumor control thing for me personally,” he said. “We’re going to be putting in some plants and some trees along the K-Park border. It doesn’t mean anything other than that this is a good opportunity for us to save some plants and use some existing funding that we run the risk of losing if we don’t spend it.”
The project also will make the property more visually appealing, Councilman John McGovern said.
“This might end up eight, 10, however many years from now being a credit to the K-Park property because they won’t have to put a buffer in,” Mayor Anne Gerwig said. “So it might make it more marketable in the end.”
Village Manager Paul Schofield said that if he thought there was a possibility of anything happening with K-Park, he would not recommend the buffer be built. Wellington in April extended its $40,000 annual lease with J. Alderman Farms Inc. to farm and maintain the land and pay property taxes on the site through June 2019. The farm has leased the property since 2010.
If Wellington were to decide to do anything with K-Park, it would need to give J. Alderman Farms 120 days’ notice, or enough time to harvest any crops.
The village bought K-Park in 2003 from the Kahlert family, thus the “K” in K-Park. Originally planned to become a park, the land has had many commercial suitors through the years and was the subject of spirited town halls in 2015 where residents provided feedback on what they would want to see there.