City Hasn't Forgotten About Trinity Horse Park. It Just Needs Someone to Develop, Operate It.

texashorseparkrendering.jpg
One of Brown Reynolds Watford's renderings for the Texas Horse Park. More scaled-back renderings forthcoming.
Technically I could have filed this under "Today's History Lesson," since most of you who even recall the Texas Horse Park likely considered it a thing of the past. After all it's been around since the mid-1990s and was included in the $246-million capital bond program for the Trinity River Corridor Project in 1998, in which $2.56 million was allocated for an equestrian center. It reappeared as part of the 2006 bond program, in which $12 million was set aside for development of the Texas Horse Park, with another $2 million going toward land acquisition not far from the Trinity River Audubon Center.

A master plan was completed and presented to council in 2007, but as Sam pointed out way back in '08, the thing stalled out in large part because those in charge of the project couldn't raise the other $15 million in private funds needed for Phase I of the project. There were some fund-raising efforts made in 2010, but in all, city officials say now, the horse park only ponied up $1 million, give or take.

Now, all these years later, the city once more is wrestling with the familiar old: What now? But for the first time in a long time, we may be nearing a resolution.

Paul Dyer, director of the Park and Recreation Department, briefed the Park Board on a proposal just yesterday and will give the council's Economic Development Committee the same presentation Tuesday. In it, he will propose putting out a request for a proposal in February in the hopes of finding a private operator who'd be willing to "manage, operate and maintain the horse park at no cost to the city," he tells Unfair Park this afternoon. "And if they want to put in some money, that would be fine with us."

horseparklandnow.jpg
Five years ago the council was shown these photos of the land near the Trinity where the Texas Horse Park is supposed to go.
Says Dyer, several groups, among them the Trinity Trust, attempted to raise money for the Texas Horse Park but simply "weren't successful." But rather than let the idea die, the city thought it best to see if anyone else would be interested -- seeing as how those behind the operation have long insisted "the Park is projected to generate over $350 million in revenues for the facility and other businesses during its first ten years of operation, including revenues from the facility's operations, contract concessionaires and vendors at the facility, local stores and other local businesses, horse industry suppliers, and local hotel and motels." (Which, some city officials said this afternoon, is pure speculation -- a "hopeful guesstimation," in the words of one -- based upon a a report the horse park commissioned from a firm in Austin.)

"Hopefully," says Dyer, an RFP "will flush out anyone in the country who can help us, and if nothing happens then it's the decision of the council: Where do we go from here? Do we abandon the project? There are a number of options, but this is gives us an opportunity to see if anyone's interested."

Says Dyer there's only $12 million left for development; the rest of the bond funds have been spent on land acquisition. Worst-case scenario, he says, the land that's been paid for will make "a great addition to the Trinity Forest and as a place for trails and even a place for equestrian trails."

I've tried all day to reach Texas Horse Park officials, via email and voice mail, and haven't gotten a response; perhaps one will come before Tuesday's meeting. But I did ask Dyer if they're still involved in the operation, to which he responded: "I can't say what their intentions are going forward." But what happens if an independent operator does step forward with a viable bid?

"They" -- meaning, the Texas Horse Park -- "haven't opted to be an operator," he says. "What would probably happen is it seems to be they would like to be a 'friends' organization that would be a champion of the park and talk to other groups and bring in events and create some networking."

Terms of the deal with the outside contractor, should one pop up, will be made available with other details in the briefing docs that will be posted tonight. I'll post it tomorrow morning.

Dyer says this is about to be the council's decision: Either it opts to find that outside operator, or decides to reallocate that $12 million in bond funds. And if for whatever reason it decides the latter? "Typically bonds sold in a particular proposition can be used for other projects that are similar." Meaning: If the council opts to stick the horse park in the stable, it might look to use the money elsewhere along the Trinity.
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Dallas_Joe_Schmo
Dallas_Joe_Schmo

Sounds like 12 million is an awful lot of money for an equestrian center in the heart of Dallas with land for free.  The ones around Lake Highlands seem to be doing fine (Park Lane and Fair Oaks Drive) given their small size and the fact that they are basically land-locked.  I'm sure if a small facility opened up down there with room to grow, it would have no problem getting people to board and train down there as it seems there are endless trail possibilites and beautiful natural sights.  Sad that the city ONLY wants a "world-class" mega facility, rather than just opening something nice and small that works for the people that will actually use it!

Tgordon2222
Tgordon2222

I agree with that statement! Go too big and it will have people thinking it is too far above them. Build a very nice facility with a ten-then 20 yr plan for expansion. Will Rodgers is aging, if the various horse associations are interested,have them come together to manage/fund/headquarter in said mega facility?

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

First I've Never heard of Cowboy Up. Sounds like Good people . Doing good things.

Okay let me put this a different way ( UNRELATED TO THE FINE WORK THE GROUP is involved in ) Have the people who are Cowboy Up ever heard of any demand for such a massive horse facility as the city wants to build ?

Or even the "More scaled-back renderings forthcoming."

Equestrian
Equestrian

You've asked the right question!  The Texas Horse Park, tho well intentioned, spectacularly FAILED to raise funds - because there is NO MARKET for a multi-million dollar world class equestrian competition facility in the Trinity River Corridor.  

What to do going forward? 2004 Executive Summary lays it out...  "...horseboarding, rental and training facility open to the public with a mission toembrace the needs of the community and be a promoter of Dallas’ culturalheritage.

As the city and suburbs continue to grow,equestrian centers are being forced farther into the countryside, makinghorseback riding and owning a horse less and less convenient. With over 6,000acres in the Great Trinity Forest, properly located and monitored equestriantrails will provide city-dwellers opportunities to ride horses.

 

North Texas has a long heritage of ranchingand love of horses. The Equestrian Center will provide visitors a chance toexperience that western tradition through trail rides and outdoor events."

Source for above is http://www.trinityrivercorrido...

Whatchyathink Oak Cliff Townie?

sandra crenshaw
sandra crenshaw

Correction We elect folks who look like us to help us and  they ONLY fight for ribbon cutting opportunities. 

Lacpac2011
Lacpac2011

If case you did not read between the line, Let's Cowboy Up is run by a group of unsung Black business and minded civic leaders. The major fight between black council members in the redistricting process was over"economic engines as defined by Hill and Plan Commissioner Rodgers ( nice lady with black consciousness but ill equipped to swim with political sharks). 

The Horse Park was in Hill's old district. Caraway wanted it in his district. Tennell Atkins wanted it in his district. Bill Betzen's map was gerrymandered to put the Park (which has no residents) in Davis district 7.  All of the proposals took the land away from the adjacent property owners who it would have impacted the most.  None of the incumbent blacks have touted this group or approached them about trying to start a Horse Park Operator business because they are unapproachable have no money for bribes.  I burns my black when blacks are criticized for not having black owned businesses in our community. We elect folks who look like us to help us and fight for ribbon cutting opportunities.  See Library article for Chris Danger's definition with my amendment. KEVIN --- bypass and stay clear of  the black council members, forge partnerships and get you a base made up of the WHITE Friends of the Trinity River to fight your battles and head straight for the office of Economic Development Dallas. If you have ANY problems use the social media to let us know to hold the black leaders in line or throw the rascals out. 

Henry Brown
Henry Brown

Hey this to the Oak Cliff Townie at the bottom of the page, thats not true about that youth program, they just haven't had the resources to thrive. In a tough economy without proper help and sponsorship you can only do so much!!! With financial infusion into that area it could thrive and the youth of pleasant grove and surrounding area could benefit.

Ben
Ben

Bill H. and I hiked across it in November. Great piece of land seen in the photo below(Bill seen saluting and muddy as we come back from the bottoms)http://img846.imageshack.us/im...

Interesting piece of property. Like a city owned ranch. Much of it is post oak savannah which is rare for Dallas. There is a sliver of post oak that extends up from the south east. Looks a lot more like Athens, Texas or Gun Barrel City than it does Dallas. Soil is sandy to boot. The area is currently being grazed by farm animals of various flavors. As a result there is no understory. Which gives it an African safari look. The land was graveled in the past 100 years in various places. Couple of ponds in various places as a result. Bald eagles, Caracara, Deer, Pigs, Coyotes. Has it all. Supposed to be an indian burial ground there too.

Lots of mystery and a wall of worry surrounds the Horse Park plans. The homeowners that surround the park are suspicious of the city and their plans. As a group, the city has treated the stakeholders living and working down there, poorly. Angers me.

Plenty of trails and super easy connection to the Trinity Audubon Center via an old dump road that goes under Loop 12. Portions of the property to the south were a landfill in the 60s. When Loop 12 was widened, they built a kick ass flyover for Loop 12 to connect the dumps. Now the underpass allows one to travel from I-20 to Elam without touching a numerated street.

http://www.facebook.com/LetsCo...

Lets Cowboy Up is a non-profit operating on Elam Road next to the footprint of where the THP might someday be. If you are interested in horses, hit 'em up on their facebook. They are already doing many of the things the mission of the Horse Park hopes to bring to that part of Dallas.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

So why allow Cowboy Up handle it ? (intended in a Nice Way) If there is that kind of demand wouldn't what those folks have already be growing ?

Princess Tester
Princess Tester

Let's Cowboy Up is trying real hard!!  They're a community organization that's got horses in the corridor NOW.  Their volunteers are working with at-risk-youth teaching them how to ride and how to maintain the 52 acre ranch.  

Today LCU is @ Whittles Feed Store raising $ for the program.  Monday LCU will march in the MLK Parade put on by the DFW Elite News and then 15 of them are hurrying over to Fort Worth as guests of Mr. Cleo Hearne to watch the Cowboys of Color Rodeo.   

LCU is totally run by volunteers who live in South Dallas.  They're trying to attract more folks who understand and believe in what they're doing to help the kids of South Dallas.

 ~ Empowerment ~ Horsemanship ~ Cowboy Values ~ Community Pride ~ 

For more info check out their FB page   http://www.Facebook.com/LetsCo...

Native Dallas Girl
Native Dallas Girl

Oak Cliff Townie - here's info on Let's Cowboy Up - from http://www.Facebook.com/LetsCo...     They're on a beautiful piece of land and have got HORSES you can ride.  Their hope is to have a self-sustaining horse operation that benefits at-risk-youth and ... they ARE MAKING THIS HAPPEN.  Let's Cowboy Up Empowers at-risk-youth and their families through positive horsemanship & lifestyle success programs on our 52 acre working equestrian farm in South Dallas. Cowboy culture, cowboy values...DescriptionThrough interactions with horses and maintaining our 52 acre WORKING RANCH, children and adults gain self respect, self-confidence and community pride. We're celebrate our western heritage and values right here in the city. Look through the pictures on this Facebook page to see our ARENA, PECAN GROVE, RIDING TRAILS, FISHING POND, PARTY PAVILION. Kids are learning how to ride, families are enjoying the ranch. We're proud of what we're building here in South Dallas. General Information**Riding Lessons **Horse Training **Trail Rides **Party Pavilion **Summer & After School Programs for at-risk-youth **Fishing **Skills/Trades Programs for kids & adults **Our arena is one of the BEST for team penning & barrel racing COME ON DOWN TO THE RANCH! 8 MINUTES FROM DOWNTOWN DALLAS 52 acres of the country surrounded by wooded trails & open TX prairie of the Great Trinity Forest and the Trinity River Corridor. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=... mission of Let's Cowboy Up is to better the lives of children and their families in our South Dallas community. ~ Empowerment ~ Horsemanship ~ Cowboy Values ~ ~ Community Pride ~ AwardsCheck out this 4 minute profile of Let's Cowboy Up by CBS! http://dfw.cbslocal.com/catego... rentals for birthdays & community events. Horseback riding lessons. Trail Rides. After school programs. Skills training. Founded by Kevin Woods - South Dallas resident - Social EntrepreneurEmail

Join us and share your skills with those in need. Call or email us. Thank you! 817 663-5338 LetsCowboyUp@gmail.com

Native Dallas Girl
Native Dallas Girl

Oak Cliff Townie - here's info on Let's Cowboy Up - from http://www.Facebook.com/LetsCo...     They're on a beautiful piece of land and have got HORSES you can ride.  Their hope is to have a self-sustaining horse operation that benefits at-risk-youth and ... they ARE MAKING THIS HAPPEN.  Let's Cowboy Up Empowers at-risk-youth and their families through positive horsemanship & lifestyle success programs on our 52 acre working equestrian farm in South Dallas. Cowboy culture, cowboy values...DescriptionThrough interactions with horses and maintaining our 52 acre WORKING RANCH, children and adults gain self respect, self-confidence and community pride. We're celebrate our western heritage and values right here in the city. Look through the pictures on this Facebook page to see our ARENA, PECAN GROVE, RIDING TRAILS, FISHING POND, PARTY PAVILION. Kids are learning how to ride, families are enjoying the ranch. We're proud of what we're building here in South Dallas. General Information**Riding Lessons **Horse Training **Trail Rides **Party Pavilion **Summer & After School Programs for at-risk-youth **Fishing **Skills/Trades Programs for kids & adults **Our arena is one of the BEST for team penning & barrel racing COME ON DOWN TO THE RANCH! 8 MINUTES FROM DOWNTOWN DALLAS 52 acres of the country surrounded by wooded trails & open TX prairie of the Great Trinity Forest and the Trinity River Corridor. http://maps.google.com/maps?q=... mission of Let's Cowboy Up is to better the lives of children and their families in our South Dallas community. ~ Empowerment ~ Horsemanship ~ Cowboy Values ~ ~ Community Pride ~ AwardsCheck out this 4 minute profile of Let's Cowboy Up by CBS! http://dfw.cbslocal.com/catego... rentals for birthdays & community events. Horseback riding lessons. Trail Rides. After school programs. Skills training. Founded by Kevin Woods - South Dallas resident - Social EntrepreneurEmail

Join us and share your skills with those in need. Call or email us. Thank you! 817 663-5338 LetsCowboyUp@gmail.com

cp
cp

The City'd rather take them to court...

LL
LL

So we spend $4M on a rapid for a few kayakers and we have $14M for a few horse riders.  All that money would have been better spent on general park amenities and upkeep for the majority of the citizens. 

I never could figure out how that much money got put in the bond for the horse park and originally they were to have raised the majority of the money. 

Absolutely amazing.

Toobig 2b a Jockey
Toobig 2b a Jockey

I'd be happier with a Trinity Horse Track. Nothing as exciting as a good mudder.

John_McKee
John_McKee

So are we giving the horses life jackets or are their stables on floats or something? I was under the impression it was bad to store animals in places that semi-regularly flood with water.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Ok, this one's a bit of a head scratcher.  If there isn't enough money to build the park, why is the City soliciting an operator of an imaginary, unfunded facility?

Ah, never mind, I just looked at Sam's old post-- it appears they are pursuing option number three: "proceed with another operator other than THPI, starting the fund-raising process from the beginning."

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