Wellington, FL

Wellington Short Story

In the beginning there was water. Lots and lots of water. For the beginnings of what was to become Wellington started in the Everglades swamp (look at a map, the Everglades is Wellington's Southwestern boundary).

In 1951, Charles Oliver Wellington, a very successful accountant in New York, made a decision to purchase some investment property in South Florida. Following the recommendations of Arthur William Glisson (known to all in Wellington as Bink Glisson), several tracts of land were assembled and purchased by Mr. Wellington. Shortly after the land purchases, the State of Florida passed legislation creating the Acme Drainage District. The initial purpose of the district, created in 1953, was to provide for drainage and flood control on the assembled acreage and make the property suitable for agriculture. This was a huge undertaking as the total size of the tract was over 16,000 acres.

Bink Glisson was hired by C.O. Wellington to oversee the property that was soon to become known as the Flying Cow (Charles Oliver Wellington) Ranch. Bink also served as the Acme Drainage District's first employee and general manager. In many respect's Bink was the first rock to anchor what was soon (44 years later) to become the Village of Wellington. He served the District in many capacities for 40 years, and retired in 1993 with a big sendoff attended by hundreds of his friends and neighbors. Bink and his wife Joan are enjoying their retirement year’s right here in Wellington.

Mr. Wellington was the first Chairman of the Acme Drainage District and served until his death in 1959. Oddly enough it was probably Mr. Wellington's death which led to the decision to develop portions of the property to raise capital to pay for estate taxes. Carrying on as the District Chairman until he retired in 1984 was C.O. Wellington's son, Roger.

Major construction did not begin until the first large tract of land, 7,400 acres was sold to the Investment Corporation of Florida (ICOF) in 1971 for a cost of about $800 per acre. In 1972, a joint venture between ICOF and Alcoa Aluminum was formed to begin the construction of a new community. Construction began in 1972 and hundreds of homes were sold during that period. In 1976 Alcoa decided to sell their interest back to ICOF. Two years later the remaining properties of ICOF were sold to Gould Florida, a division of the large electronics corporation Gould, Inc. William Yilvisaker, the Chairman of Gould was an avid polo player. It was his contribution that produced the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club.

In 1985 Gould decided to pull out and sold it's remaining acreage to Corepoint, Inc. Corepoint was than succeeded by Lennar Homes who purchased the assets of Corepoint from First union Bank who held $35 million in defaulted loans. Since that time Lennar has also purchased the remaining 500 lots in Bink's Forest. In another distressed real estate sale, Glenn Straub purchased the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club, for $20 million from the Resolution Trust Company in 1993.

The next step in the evolution of Wellington was probably it's most important for the future. After years of trying, a determined group of Wellington residents succeeded in a referendum vote taken in November 1995. The Village of Wellington was officially born on December 31, 1995 (to qualify for certain Florida State funds it was necessary that the Village be chartered in 1995 or millions of dollars in state funds would have been lost). Official operations commenced on March 28, 1996.

The first five elected officials took office on this date. They are Kathy Foster, Carmine Priore, Paul Adams, Thomas Wenham and Mike McDonough. Kathy Foster was elected the first Mayor by her fellow Councilmen, and Carmine Priore was elected Vice Mayor (the Mayor and Vice Mayor positions were voted upon by the five Council members, not the electorate). In April of 1998 Wellington held it's second election for Village Council. Thomas Wenham was reelected, unopposed and Mike McDonough was replaced by Al Paglia. At the end of April the Village Council elected Carmine Priore as Mayor, and Paul Adams as Vice Mayor.

In 2002, the residents of the Village of Wellington voted to elect the Mayor versus having the electorate method continue. The Council now consists of Thomas Wenham, Mayor and Vice Mayor Robert Margolis, and council members Lizbeth Benacquisto, Carmine Priore and Laurie Cohen. Although the Mayor is now elected by the residents, all five council members have the same amount of authority.

In 1953, fewer than 100 individuals resided in the area. Today, the Village is an affluent community with an estimated population of nearly 47,000 people. The Village of Wellington offers tremendous diversity: from apartments to estate homes at the Polo Club; from town homes to the Aero Cub where the residents have airplane hangars attached to their homes. The Village of Wellington includes some of the world’s premier equestrian facilities, horse farms, agriculture and nurseries. The primary sources of employment within the Village are construction, agriculture and retail sales. Approximately 95% of employed Village residents are employed outside of Wellington. The community is mainly composed of golfing and equestrian areas with an upscale shopping mall and many small specialty boutiques and restaurants.

"Wellington is about Quality of Life. Education, Recreation, Senior Services, Our Equestrian Community and the Environment – All of these combined make Wellington special”

- Village Manager Charles Lynn

Courtesy of Village of Wellington website