After discussing the pros and cons, as well as the long-term future of the park, the council voted 7-2 last November against the proposal, deciding instead to wait until we had more certainty about the park’s future. Community Services also began preparing several different scenarios regarding the park’s future. These scenarios are still being finalized.
When this same issue was brought up today, I made a substitute motion to wait until July so we could finish gathering public input and then use our Equestrian Park Advisory Board to help us prioritize deferred maintenance needs. I felt this made sense, especially since the soonest any dirt could be brought in would be the end of June due to event bookings. I’ve also heard there may be other needs, such as more restroom facilities, and want to look at all of these holistically. Currently, we are in the middle of a public process through which we hope to learn two things: the full spectrum of public opinion about the park, and the proposed costs and benefits of each of the scenarios.
Today’s proposal circumvents that process. The council hasn’t yet voted on what the future of the park will look like, and the four scenarios under study have not been presented to the council with hard numbers showing both one-time and ongoing costs. And we are also still soliciting public input through an online survey.
Funding piecemeal projects outside the context of all maintenance needs, and without the long-term vision of a specific scenario, is premature.
I remain committed to finishing the public process. I value the public input on the long-term future of the park, as well as the immediate maintenance needs. I am also committed to including the Equestrian Park Advisory Board, comprised of equestrian users and county staff, in the discussion about long-term and short-term needs. Councilmember Snelgrove also brought up other possible and less costly dirt arrangements. Although Councilmember Snelgrove, Burdick and I agreed we need to finish the public process, the motion to move forward passed 5-3.
I look forward to future conversations with the equestrian park community and others, as we work together to find ways to optimize the use of taxpayer dollars and maximize the positive impact of the park.