Margolin: Horse Park Proposal Not What Voters Agreed To. Allen: But It'll Be "World Class."

MasterPlanforTexasHorsePark.jpg
The revised master plan for the Texas Horse Park, if it's ever fully built out
The council's Economic Development Committee kicked off its morning meeting by taking up the Texas Horse Park, which came up $14 million short in private funds but remains high on the city's to-do list. Hence, as we've noted in recent days, Park and Rec and the city manager's hope that the council will let them see if there's a private operator willing to take over a project -- funded with $15 million in '98 and '06 bond funds -- the nonprofit couldn't build out years after it was initially promised.

Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan pitched it as a money-maker, a job-creator, a bringer of "recreation" and "culture." And she did so in front of an audience that included many familiar faces down at City Hall, chief among them Gail Thomas of the Trinity Trust, which had hoped to open the park in 2007. "I have no doubt you'll raise the money for the park," said council member Sheffie Kadane. "I have no doubt," added Jerry Allen.

Most of the committee was all for putting out a request for proposals: Tennell Atkins, chair of the committee, said: "T. Boone Pickens, Gerald Ford, the Dallas Mavericks, the SMU Mustangs, the Texas Rangers -- everything's horse-related" 'round these here parts. "Why not have a great horse trail? Horses bring money. We got plenty of space ... When horse people come to the show, they spend money. Look at the Fort Worth Rodeo."

Allen had but one concern -- making sure the Texas Horse Park would be "world-class." Because, after all, "This is Dallas."

Said Allen: "The Trinity River, our recreation going into this, is setting the stage for future generations. This will be one of the trademarks to go along with it." Paul Dyer, head of Park and Rec, said, yes, world-class it is. "The Dallas Zoo, the Arboretum took 30 years to get here. This may not jump off as world-class ... but our mission is to get it up, show the value, and when the economy improves you'll see it get to world-class level."

In the end, only Ann Margolin refused to recommend asking the whole council to OK the RFP. After thanking Thomas and the other Trinity trustees, the District 13 council member said she has "grave reservations about" moving ahead with the search for a private operator. The reason:

"This is not what the voters voted on," she said. "There was a commitment to raise $15 million, and it didn't happen, and as far as I'm concerned that's kind of a deal-killer. It seems like we're going to do this no matter what. We're going to provide $12 million and $700,000 in debt service ... [And] if it doesn't work out we're on the hook. If there's an operator who loses money, the city's going to be forced to come forward and keep it going. I'm still having a lot of trouble with it, and at this point I don't feel like I can support it in good conscience."

Allen said: Don't worry, this is for the future -- for the children. And besides, the Trinity Trust and the Texas Horse Park-ers will find the money. One day. Fingers crossed. Because this is Dallas. And "we've been known as the most giving city in the United States of America."
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Father Richard
Father Richard

I own land and live in the proposed "Horse Park". The first we heard of it, friends called us about a map on the internet showing our land as part of the park already. We formed the Pemberton Hill N.A. and began calling, emailing and talking to every one we could to find out what was going on. When we could get an answer (seldom) we were assured that all meetings in the future would include us. We were not even notified of the recent discussions; but then again, we have never been notified of anything by anyone. The really sad part about this "World Class" park is that the old web pages from the non-profit state that "community involvement" is one of the three main pillars of the whole plan. This from people who never have kept their word to us (when we could track them down) a single time. Our emails to Dallas Parks go unanswered. I would just like to know how they plan to make the flood planes they are building in not wet, muddy and dangerous for horses? The horses that are already in this area can not travel on the trails a large part of the year, and neither will any in the future. How can such "smart" people be so dumb? Could it be that eventually "they" will discover that this muddy flood plane isn't such a great place for their horses and use the land they have taken from us for a more profitable purpose? Of course, all the pesky locals will be long gone by then and not need to be considered then either. The City of Dallas has been no friend to "Cowboy Up", the only non-profit group operating horses in this area already. Yes Dallas (government), you really are "World Class."

Doug
Doug

I totally see Ann's point and think she's the voice of reason. Even if a wonderful private party were found, with such a high overhead and cost of upkeep of something like that, not to mention insurance, I can see the city becoming the backstop pretty quickly if public demand isn't really there....and is it really? I know there's an equestrian place off Park, how's their business holding up? Seems to me that one of the least likely regular activities of a City of Dallas taxpayer is horseback riding, regardless of the stupid stereotype. We're about as far away from that as we are from caddys with horns on the front. Not that I'm opposed to private outfits taking up residence down there and renting horses and blazing new trails, but like Margolin, 12 mil seems pretty steep for some glorified stables, which is all you really need.  If we're going to cater to the minority, I want my dirt bike/atv trails and jumps track.....screw horses!

Horseparkboondoggle
Horseparkboondoggle

this might be the stupidest idea to come out of city hall - the firm that designed this is WRT and everyone knows that they are an absolute joke - they design fire stations!!   

Thank god Margolin has a brain and is calling them to the carpet on this fiasco.

Adam from East Dallas
Adam from East Dallas

Don't forget the horse track once Texas legalizes gambling...  If my memory serves correct, don't several South Dallas politicians own a personal financial stake in this public/private venture?

Juan Valdez
Juan Valdez

Although I believe this is a very interesting project. We need a Tourism board to market places like the Audubon, Trinity Forest, etc to the masses.But dont go too far, Dallas has many districts that are simply ignored by the masses and they are not only in South Dallas. For example, Victory Plaza.

Ellum08
Ellum08

Since horses bring money, do they vote as well? Just curious since it was already determined that trees do not.

'World class' is becoming just as annoying a description as 'West Village' and 'Just like Austin'.

cp
cp

There's a difference in the kind of horses that bring money. People who play pollo or go on fox hunts don't live around these parts. People who already have horses and a western saddle are already out here riding the trails. Look at some of Ben's pictures at http://dallastrinitytrails.blo...

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Can they put in a Ferris wheel as part of it?

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

The experience most of us in the southern sector had interacting with horses was the old riding Stable off of  35 and Belt Line Rd .Or the Sears Riding&Tack Catalog. We  Sure as heck didn't have a (FOR Profit Horse Riding Business) rush in to fill that void when it closed all those years ago.Given our city's history when it comes to caring for the creatures great and small I see the city signing  a long term deal with someone who has ties to a slaughter house.But I am more fearful if the city chooses to hire its own person to run the place.......

What would happen if one of the horses got caught in a wall ?

Equestrian
Equestrian

So...while all this political wrangling is going on, the start-up non-profit Let's Cowboy Up is providing horse services in the Trinity Corridor.  It's run by people in South Dallas who teach horsemanship skills to at-risk-youth.  To make ends meet they rent out horses for trail rides, rent out their pavilion for parties & social events, give private riding lessons.  

http://g.co/maps/5e4t6    link to GoogleMaps showing the Let's Cowboy Up 52 acre Ranch

http://www.Facebook.com/LetsCo...

Ben
Ben

The Horse Park would be great for the city. I hope it is built soon.  I do however, question the rationale behind it becoming an economic engine for that part of Dallas. The same thing was said about the Trinity River Audubon Center. It's a great place, great facility and "world class" in every regard. But...it has not led to any new development in the area or even engaged the community it sits in.

It worries me that the Audubon Center sits idle and under utilized so much and is a foreign place to those who have lived entire lifetimes in Pleasant Grove, Joppa and South Dallas. I would challenge the city council people in that area to get their residents more involved and more aware of what they have in their own backyard. Someone needs to tell them that it was built more for the area residents than anyone else. I think if you live in the zip code or two surrounding the Audubon Center you can use the facility and meeting rooms for free.

The bridle trails noted in the Master Plan already exist. As mentioned in the comments section in an earlier story, Let's Cowboy Up the non-profit on Elam, utilizes some of that for trail rides. If you want to see good people, doing good things, go visit.

The treasure of the Trinity River is not the multi-million dollar amenities built. It's the individuals, regular people at a very basic grassroots level that make it a place worth visiting. Many people consider themselves selfish for not sharing what they know or what they have done down there. They want to keep their special places, special. Hard to blame them. The city might come along and pave it.

Livable Perspective
Livable Perspective

I have no earthly idea why this is a priority to the city council. We have enough half-ass ideas on the drawing board already.

lorlee
lorlee

The whole thing was premised on them raising $15M privately.  I don't know if they even raised a million.  As far as I am concerned, that is simply a deal breaker and a strong indication of the interest in this deal. 

One wonders who is benefitting on this amenity for just a few people and why the rest of us should be on the hook for it. 

cp
cp

THPI had some talented and creative people on their board who were active and helpful. But in the end, the horsey set in Dallas isn't as big as some would like to believe. Pollo isn't very popular here. And THAT'S the kind of horse park they want, not a dude ranch, and well, there might be a tad bit more support for that. Mary Cook knows how to raise money for the Trust (aka, the Calatrava money) if she really wanted to, she could have called up 15 of her closest friends and had that $15 million. But the Trinity Trust wants all the other non-profits associated with the Trinity River to do their own fundraising. I'm sure they could have manufactured some interest but the philosophy of the Trust is that, in order for the Preston Hollow old oil money people to actually take a glance at our river- and anything else associated with it- then there needs to be a big, fancy signature bridge. That once they see that, then they'll suddenly have all kinds of interest in the "lesser" stuff, like this, among other projects. We'll see, but I have my doubts. I mean look at all that great development all abuzz around the arena...

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

"Pollo isn't very popular here." Yes it is -- on corn OR flour tortillas.

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

"If you don't have a world class horse park, you can't be a world class city."

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

Jerry is concerned 'for the children' when it comes to horses. Guess he could care less for 'the children' when it comes to gas drilling. He was quoted as wanting to 'git 'er done'.Margolin is right, we can't afford it.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Now we know where all the horses in that DCVB video were racing off to.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

Will we get demands for horse lanes with the bike lanes?  Special Calatrava bridges for the equine set?  And can we get a toll lanes for horses?  And will this stop Wilonsky from hogging the horse ride in front of Wall Mart?? (And why does he insist on riding side saddle???)

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

While I respect Ann Margolin's approach in her issue, she also fails to realize that in Texas, we think big.  I agree with projects of this nature we need to progress properly in both development and creation.

Also as a side, is it me or does ann remind you of Phyllis from "The Office" when she wears her glasses??

Bob
Bob

I will pretend that you did not write, "in Texas, we think big."

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

To quote an email that just landed in the inbox: Margolin "knows this project (and its problems) better than anyone else on the council since she was on the Park Board when the deal with THPI was made."

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

"We've been known as the most giving city in the United States of America."  Wow.  Lot's of places to go with that statement.

If Dallas is so giving, I would like to request that my personal city street, as well as Blackburn Avenue between Turtle Creek and Cole Avenue, be resurfaced immediately. And the Bike Plan funded.  And the streetcar plan funded.  And..., well, you know how it goes.

Maybe Ms. Thomas and T. Boone Pickens and the rest of the Park Cities' merry band of wish-list grantors would help me?

texaspainter
texaspainter

There's too much horse shit being spread around today at this meeting. The horse park is not going to bring revenue to the city. Streets and alleys that are in good shape, and good schools will do that, but those items are just not pretty enough.

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