Debate Stirs Up Over Wellington’s Proposed Dressage Center

Jamie Zeldman

Jennifer Melgey, Staff writer

It all started last fall when Mark Bellissimo and Michael Stone’s Equestrian Partners started construction on the facility that would
hold the Global Dressage Festival.

The project originally hoped to create a world class facility for dressage riders, connect with the community by bringing jobs and
entertainment, and to bring more media attention to the sport.

The equestrian center had a present budget of fifty million to eighty million dollars.  The center is being built on a fifty-four acre lot that would include a state of the art spectator arena, hotel, five separate arenas, barns, and over twenty-five thousand square feet of offices, retail space, and restaurants.

When the meeting for the construction took place, arguments arose.  Outside the grounds, regular citizens of Wellington wore red t-shirts and held up signs that read “No Equestrian Village”.  The meeting lasted a total of twenty hours, which is the record time for a length of a meeting in Wellington.

After a tied vote, the council finally decided that they would give an okay to the facility only if the hotel was downsized to fifty-eight feet.  This new height requirement is just a few feet higher than the Wellington High School auditorium.

“To some, it’s exactly  what Wellington needs to secure its place as an international equestrian destination,” said Mitra Malek, a staff writer form the Palm Beach Post, “others saw it as a potential eyesore whose loudspeakers would ring their ears and whose manure-lined barns would burn their noses.”

One of the reasons that sets Wellington apart from everywhere else is its equestrian flair, which is why the project was originally created.

“I definitely agree that the equestrian part of the town is what makes Wellington special,” said Justin Colebrook, a 10th grader.

Even with the whole debate stirring up, the dressage center still hopes for Wellington to retain its spot as the top equestrian destination in the world and to attract visitors from all over.