Vonciel Jones Hill Asks Fellow Council Members to "Catch the Vision" of Texas Horse Park

Categories: City Hall
horseparklandnow.jpg
The "piece of dirt," per Vonciel Jones Hill, where some on the council hope the Texas Horse Park will roam sooner than later
In the end, the council's Economic Development Committee didn't want to talk about economic impact studies or debate the risk of sinking $12 million into a project where its partner fell millions short when it came to raising matching funds. In the end, most of its members wanted to make it clear, time and again, that the Texas Horse Park is a necessary, vital and key piece of the Trinity River Corridor Project -- a "gateway to the southern sector," as Tennell Atkins called it, and every bit the signature component as, say, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, in the words of Vonciel Jones Hill.

Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan came to council this morning to pore over those estimable docs we looked at yesterday. And in the end only council member Ann Margolin was against the city looking for an outside operator to take the reins of the horse park, which has been around in one way, shape or form since the bond package of 1998. Margolin is concerned the city will wind up footing the bill for the park; the potential of profit did not sway her decision.

But her colleagues disagreed. Because, after all, said Atkins: "We have $12 million sitting there." And if the city doesn't at least see who's interested, "it's kinda like we don't know what the market is." Jordan heartily agreed.

Said Jerry Allen, those who crunch the numbers and remain skeptical are merely opposed to the entirety of the Trinity River Corridor Project as a whole. Because, he insisted, "the Trinity River project is one of those type of deals where you're either for it or against it. When it comes to looking at the numbers [that] determines which side of the fence you're on." He insisted it was all just a matter of perception, interpretation. "I've always been for the Trinity River project, and I see it as a great opportunity for the citizens of Dallas, our kids in particular. ... So I look forward to seeing a RFP going out and further dissecting it."

But it was Hill who spawned the catch phrase that so delighted her colleagues.

"I caught the vision of this project a long time ago," she said. "I don't see how this project can lose. It has languished for four years. But I caught the vision back then and am happy to have the opportunity to push it now. .... With the park will come hotels, restaurants, leisure facilities. That's the vision I catch. It will not happen overnight. It's a long-term vision. But what the city has been selling for the last several years is a piece of dirt. The city has to do something. Investors have got to see something on the ground before they're going to ... donate. I've heard this from outsiders: 'The city's not doing anything.' This is an opportunity for the city to do something."

She called it an "integral" part of the Trinity River Corridor Project -- "one of the pieces we don't have to have the Corps of Engineers approve." She asked Jordan if that's correct; the assistant city manager said that's absolutely right.

"That's a bonus for us and the corps," Hill said. "We can get this done. Like the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, which we are now opening, this is a project where you have to catch the vision. If someone had not caught the vision of the bridge, this would not have happened. I distinctly remember a council member calling it the bridge to nowhere -- I never did figure out if that was downtown or West Dallas." But the bridge, she said, "will bring tremendous economic development to downtown and West Dallas. Council members, just catch the vision. Just imagine what this can do for where it is. Clearly, clearly I support this project, I don't see what hard is done by letting the RFP go out."

Later, said Allen: "Those are true words, and I totally agree with council woman Hill."

Next stop: the full council. Giddyup.

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23 comments
cp
cp

Once again, THP, Inc has pretty well demonstrated that there is little outside (investment) interest in the Horse Park. The horsey set in Texas use western saddles. Polo isn't popular here. People who ride horses on dirt trails are ALREADY USING the trails in the Trinity Forest. And they are also mostly brown people... 

Formula One
Formula One

Flow control and now a horse park? That's A LOT of shit going to the suthn sector!

Fordamist
Fordamist

There's lots of demand for stables,  every 10-14 year old girl wants a horse.  (Mine fell off and broke her leg first time she tried to ride hers.)  I've seen nothing about building stables,  having fenced pastures,  etc.   It's almost impossible to find a stable and pastures in North Dallas,  for $12 mil you can build some super-nice ones.

That will work.   It'll be a long time before it makes $12mil,  but it'll generate profit.

The suggestion that hotels will build there,  nightlife arrive,  is absurd.   Council appears to have never been downwind of a horse paddock.

Sounds like they intend to build a steeplechase,  with jumps.  Sovereign immunity be praised,  they're gonna get sued from day one when Horsey Don't Jump,  the rider is paralyzed.

There is an upside:   If they can find some foxes,  all the Council can put on red hunting jackets and ride the hounds.  Line up a bugler. 

Paul
Paul

 Please see the Equine Activity Act.  Here is a link to a reference: http://www.animallaw.info/stat...

Basically if an injury or fatality occurs in the course of normal equine activities, the landowner or facility owner is not held liable.  This applies to both privately and publicly owned facilities.

In your example, if there was a steeplechase course and someone was thrown and injured or killed as a result of taking a horse through that course, the facility owner is not liable for the injury or death.  It is presumed that the rider is aware of all risks inherent in running a steeplechase course.  The horse foundering or the rider being thrown is an inherent risk in that equine activity.

Colorado has a similar statute in regards to ski activities.

I still think that we should put the $12,000,000 to fixing potholes.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

We need to have some accountability of our elected officials.   Perhaps a claw back provision so that when these projects go belly up and the people who are responsible are out of office they can be punished for their stupidity by having their assets seized to cover their messes.   Maybe it is time to have random financial audits too (kind of like a drug test that so many must face as a condition of their employment/elected office).  Go after their finances, the finances of their spouses, and close relatives.   I mean 2013 before they can get consultants to paint a vision of ethics (another DO article released today).

Marvin
Marvin

The city has to do something. Investors have got to see something on the ground before they're going to ... donate.It sounds like she's trying to put the cart before the horse.

what'sittoyou?
what'sittoyou?

This vision brought to you by the Dallas Citizens Council...creating visions one bought council member at a time.

PhilanderingMoustache
PhilanderingMoustache

Is this filed under crime for a reason? Crime against common sense and fiscal responsibility perhaps?

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

It'll take a whole lot more than $12 Million to turn this into a signature venue. How much was spent on the standing wave? And how much more to fix it?

lorlee
lorlee

It is not one of those projects you are for or against -- just against stupidity.  This was not in the original $240M package -- most of which has been spent with not a lot to show for it. 

And so some people decide they want to do this -- say they are going to raise $15M -- can't raise it and the taxpayers are supposed to bail them out.

I got the vision -- It's a pitiful little river -- please just let it be the beautiful open space that it could be. 

And that bridge to nowhere over the upstream treated effluent -- Bridge on the River Crap.

Mo
Mo

You go girl!!! 

texasdave60
texasdave60

Must've heard Rush in a dream and it's carrying over....

NYC - TexAg
NYC - TexAg

Can someone please explain the "vision" to me? I don't get it. This isn't Saratoga Springs and don't expect Saudi princes to show up any time soon with their billions. If this was a viable project, the private money would have taken off a long time ago. This thing is DOA.

Doug
Doug

Yes, I second that. Honestly, aside from Jim's comment of "dressage", nothing specific has been stated about what kind of "vision" this really is......very abstract painting. I firmly stand by my assertion that VERY FEW people in Dallas, supposedly the horse riding capital of the world (which it isn't), are into horses. So it sounds like a glamour horse play-park for the world's wealthy who don't have any connection to Dallas. If there were a subgroup of interested horse aficianado's in Dallas, I'm pretty sure they would live in Preston Hollow where they would have the land to stable and ride them, therefore I'm pretty sure Margolin would carry their interest and concern with her as their representative. Rather, like in many other cases, she seems to be the lone voice of reason saying........really, a horse park? Are you kidding me? I don't want public dollars on the hook for that!

Ben
Ben

I think everything in those photos will be bulldozed and paved over if the Horse Park is built. Vonciel Jones Hill could really be a champion in the hearts of many if she could fast track Let's Cowboy Up's move back into the river corridor. Let's get the ball rolling faster on that! The more "normal people" that use the river, the less likely you are to see the criminals using it.

Paul
Paul

I get very scared when a politician starts talking about a "vision" ....

Which reminds me, I have a vision about our streets getting repaired.  If the gross cost of repairing a pothole is $500 (think about it, trucks, materials, equipment, workers, payoff to ...) then $12,000,000 will repair  about 24,000 potholes, or ...

If it costs $500,000 to resurface 1 mile of street (anybody is welcome to come up with a different number) then we could resurface 24 miles of city streets.

Don't we need upgrades to things like police facilities, fire department facilities and libraries?

The mind boggles as to what we could do with $12,000,000.

PS(Edit): The asphalt (hot mix) cost for 1" of 12 foot lane mile is only about $40K based on $150/yard FOB jobsite.

Puzzled
Puzzled

I wonder what Councilwoman Hill has been drinking or smoking to induce this vision?   How many horses are there in the city of Dallas other than the police dept.?

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

Wasn't Jerry Allen the visionary who said a few years ago, in effect, "It doesn't matter if what we vote to approve blows up since we won't be in office when that happens."?

And what's with the "We have $12 million sitting there."?  That's my money ladies and gentlemen of the City Council.  It's not play money for you to flush down the toilet on projects THAT NO PRIVATE CITIZEN WHO PROMISED TO MATCH THE PUBLIC FUNDS WANTS TO PUT UP THEIR MONEY FOR.Who stands to gain from either: A. Hoped for increased property values or B. Construction contracts?

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Since about the turn of the 20th century horse parks have not been "necessary" or "vital" due to those wacky automobiles.

This project seems like putting granite countertops in a condemned house. Focus on keeping the thing from falling down first.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

Wait till the Polo set finds their Arabians jacked up on cinder blocks and the hooves or JWP using the park on a Palomino with 24" hocks!

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