Wellington Equestrian Preserve forum seeks input from community

Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve Committee had a public forum for people to discuss issues regarding the equestrian and non-equestrian communities’ impact on each other and on the village as a whole.

The purpose of the forum was to attract people that have a stake in Wellington—even if they are not full-time residents with the ability to vote in elections—to hear their concerns with regards to equestrian sports, land use and development, and the economic and environmental impact of the equestrian community.

There were about 60 people in attendance, including Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig and council members John McGovern, Michael Napoleone and Tanya Siskind. Sixteen people spoke during public comments from various communities in and around the preserve, with a show of hands indicating a majority being from the Palm Beach Point neighborhood.

Mark Albers lives in the Equestrian Club community just south of the International Polo Club. He asked the committee if any members had walked in his community, explaining that any new development at the club would negatively affect his neighborhood.

“It’s a little concerning,” he said. “I’ve lived there since the start of IPC and we’re gonna be deeply impacted by anything that goes on there.”

Marc Ganzi founded and lives in the Grand Champions Polo Club. He defended the sport against critics who say it is losing popularity and discussed its economic impact on Wellington.

“Last year we had 197 entries at our polo club,” he said. “We hosted 38 tournaments, polo is played eight out of the 12 months in Wellington. This notion that polo might be going away or dying or anyone that comes with a veiled threat around that is not doing the math.”

Ganzi said that polo is more inclusive and in a better place than when he first moved to Wellington.

“Most importantly, it’s more accessible, and that’s the key,” he said. “More accessible to women, more accessible to children, accessible to all levels of polo. And the great mystery of polo, probably the great false notion of polo, is that polo is not open to everybody. There’s no better place than Wellington, Florida that shows that polo is open to everyone at every skill and every level and if we can continue to do that, we’re gonna get people to come to this village as a place to compete, as a place to spend tax dollars and hopefully it’s a place where people will raise their families.”

William McCue, a yacht captain and resident of the Eastwood community, talked about the equestrian community’s impact on the rest of the village.

“I would say that the great majority of Wellington residents are happy with what is happening in the equestrian community,” he said. “But we also have to address the non-equestrians’ concerns. There are as many as 20,000 horses in season, so, if you want to expand things, then my question is how much more do you want to expand?”

McCue discussed pollution from horse manure seeping into soil and groundwater as a primary concern to residents.

Mike Arcarola spoke on behalf of Equine Eco Green, a new company that seeks to address the manure issue by recycling it instead of dumping it.

He described the company’s patented process as a “win-win,” citing the health benefits of cleaner bedding for horses, the environmental benefits of reducing pollution and cost savings to Wellington and Palm Beach County. He said the manure would be taken from the county and processed near Ocala.

Palm Beach County has not yet figured out a way to deal with about 200,000 tons of manure.

“I know you guys have been constantly plagued with the problem of what to do with it,” he said. “Every day it’s something that’s looming there and it’s something that needs to be addressed and lo and behold, here we are.”

Wellington’s Equestrian Preserve Committee meets on the first Wednesday of every month in the Council Chambers at Village Hall, 12150 Forest Hill Blvd.

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