The State Of Our Village Is Strong

The State Of Our Village Is Strong The Wellington Community Regularly Demonstrates Resilience, Compassion And Determination

By Jim Barnes, Wellington Village Manager

As May greets us, summer is just around the corner. We are two-thirds through fiscal year 2023 and already starting to plan for fiscal year 2024 and beyond. We also look back on the last few years in order to better plan for the future. Over the last several years, our community has demonstrated its resilience, compassion and determination to protect each other. It’s through this spirit of “community unity” that we continue to grow stronger than ever.

Focus On Resilience
Resilience is a word we have leaned on and leaned into of late. More than a “theme” or a “slogan,” in Wellington, it is an area of strategic focus for the village and has been long before COVID-19. It means more than being able to take a punch; it is about bouncing back after adversity as strong as before. It is not something that just happens; it is a result of forward-thinking, planning and preparedness.

Smart Government
Despite the global pandemic, economic recession and financial uncertainty, Wellington has been able to maintain a high level of service and infrastructure investment due to our ongoing commitment to our areas of strategic focus: fiscal health; smart, customer-focused government; community engagement; and a safe and resilient community. These focus areas are the result of the Wellington Village Council’s vision and leadership, and they are at the core of everything we do in Wellington.

I’ve learned a lot about this organization, and here is what I can tell you without hesitation: The Village of Wellington is made up of passionate people, who work hard every day to find solutions to some of our greatest challenges while pursuing our most promising opportunities.

How do we answer the call for sustainable growth and economic opportunity without displacement and gentrification? How do we invest in infrastructure and new technology for a sustainable tomorrow without overburdening our neighbors today? Together with our ongoing studies and efforts, we need to lay out priorities and actions that the village will take over the next several years.

With smart, customer-focused government, Wellington aspires to be the most engaged community, and due to that commitment, we have been aggressively pursuing, developing and utilizing technology to improve the lives and experiences of our residents and business community. We work smarter and harder.

With the launch of our GoWellington mobile app, we put Wellington in every resident’s pocket. It’s now easier than ever for residents to submit service requests, report issues and stay informed. Residents turned to the village’s numerous communication platforms in record numbers as we have transformed our web site into a hub of information, send regular electronic updates, and leverage the power and reach of social media platforms to provide a continual stream of information.

We previously participated in the National Community Survey to gauge resident opinions on village programs, services and policies. The survey, administered by the National Research Center, surveyed randomly selected Wellington residents and included questions related to the overall quality of life in the community, including community amenities, governance and infrastructure. We plan on reaching out to our residents once again to gauge our overall quality of life, satisfaction with community amenities, governance and infrastructure by again participating in the National Community Survey this year.

Centering Equity
We have centered equity as an aspect of our operations and processes. The aim is to create an equitable community — a Wellington everyone can call home. That is a place where people can live, thrive and reach their full potential, regardless of their race, age, gender identity, personal history or economic background.

Achieving equity in education is fundamental to our success. Though public education is not a primary function of municipal government, we must embrace our role in this critical responsibility. This effort incorporates aligning our after and out-of-school programming with the needs of working families and at-risk youth, addressing the relationship between our programs and school programs, and providing additional support to assist our Wellington schools.

Let’s not forget that much of a child’s life and education happens outside of the classroom. That’s why we must also prioritize building strong neighborhoods throughout Wellington. Who we are as a community is defined by how we serve our most vulnerable and by the ways we work to create a sense of belonging and preserve our shared history. We believe that belonging is a key ingredient in our future. Being more inclusive also means being more responsive and welcoming to our neighbors from around the globe.

Building The Economy 
To build our local economy, we must recognize that partnership and collaboration will be essential in our efforts to stimulate job creation, workforce retention and expansion. This includes supporting existing local employers and small businesses by creating a business-friendly environment and supporting the need for home and remote-based businesses. How we earn a living is fundamental to our ability to support the people and communities around us. Our sights are set on high-growth sectors that create jobs with living wages, like those in the medical field, agriculture, technology, trade and business support.

We are tackling this monumental challenge in many ways. We continue to establish our partnerships with organizations like Palm Beach State College and the School District of Palm Beach County to drive more economic opportunity. We also work with organizations like Career Source and others to help residents align their skills with job opportunities.

By investing in infrastructure today, we will prepare our community for an accessible, safe and sustainable tomorrow. The increasing costs of climate change and statewide population growth means that responsible management of our resources and infrastructure will be critical to ensuring that Wellington is prepared to adapt and prosper.

Throughout the last 25 years, in the face of steady population growth, the village has reduced its carbon footprint steadily by investing in more efficient infrastructure and green technology. There is still more work to do. We continue to be a model in our treatment and protection of surface waters through our comprehensive best management practices and regulations. Wellington’s residential water use per person is almost 20 percent lower than the state average. Through its investment of nearly $11 million per year in renewing and replacing water and wastewater infrastructure, our Utilities Department consistently provides reliable service to our customers while meeting its commitment to protecting our environment.

A Healthy, Safe Community
Healthy lives start with healthy options, whether it’s access to clean drinking water, healthcare and/or our great parks. Village staff works diligently to improve factors that directly impact our residents’ quality of life. Our commitment to maintaining our excellent parks and recreation levels of service has made possible the completion of improvement projects at our parks and facilities, including the addition of needed multipurpose fields, basketball courts and tennis courts at Greenview Shores Park, as well as continuous improvement of our neighborhood parks.

We continue to coordinate funding and services of our Community Services and Parks & Recreation departments with the goal of increased opportunities and better coordination of sports, recreation and educational opportunities for our young people. An added benefit of youth involvement in positive activities like sports, arts and mindfulness is that it significantly decreases crime and other related harmful activities.

Above all else, Wellington remains a safe and resilient community, which is always our top priority. In partnership with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, we know we will continue to be a great place to live, work and play. It is who we are as a local democracy, as strategic planners, as fiscal stewards, as service providers and as a community. We look forward to emerging stronger, healthier and more vibrant than ever in the coming year.

The State Of Our Village
I do not make grandiose claims that the village is above reproach, but please hear me when I say: The state of our village is strong!

Our annual visioning sessions and strategic planning initiatives are the tools needed to forge a place of shared understanding, expectations and opportunity. This organization does impactful and important work, and we are making significant progress. Can we improve? Yes, we can, and yes, we will.

Let’s also take time to celebrate our successes and set our sights on the future we desire while we celebrate the many things that make Wellington both unique and full of hope. Arts and culture. Lively music. World-class parks. Bike paths and walking trails. Excellent schools. Safety. Diverse neighborhoods and neighbors. Community groups that are active and invested.

I am so proud of Wellington and grateful to call this community home. Together, we will stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, we will build on their progress, and fully unlock Wellington’s potential as a world-class community. By elevating policies that expand access to services, quality education, great jobs, a healthy environment and thriving neighborhoods, we will continue to become the nation’s standard-bearer as a fully equitable and inclusive community.