City Still Intent on Building Texas Horse Park, Now With Two Nonprofits On Board

Categories: City Hall

Like oh so many other things included in the Trinity River corridor project, the Texas Horse Park has not yet come to pass. The 500-acre equestrian center was supposed to have opened four years ago last month but was delayed when it became clear that city's private-sector partner in the venture, Texas Horse Park Inc., had raised just $1 million. That was a tad bit shy of the $15 million it had promised as a match to the city's bond expenditures.

The lack of private-sector support maybe should have killed the project, but it didn't. It wasn't until earlier this year, however, that the park re-emerged in slightly altered form when the city began looking for an outside entity to develop and manage the park at no cost to the city.

The City Council will learn Wednesday about the fruits of the search. It seems that there are two nonprofits, Equest and River Ranch Educational Charities, which are nearing agreements with the city to use the Texas Horse Park. The former is a horse therapy center in Wylie that treats kids and adults with developmental disabilities; the latter is a group dedicated to exposing underprivileged families to nature. SMU's equestrian team also is apparently considering using the space, though that deal is less certain.

Equest and River Ranch would use the park rent-free, the former to provide therapy, the latter to sell trail rides and the like to the public as a means of funding its charitable work. In return, the groups would agree to maintain the site and pledge a certain level of community services. River Ranch, for example, would be required to offer free trail and pony rides on specified days to the general public. Space for SMU would be reserved in case the school decides it wants it. Texas Horse Park Inc. would become more of a "friends" group, raising money to help cover operating costs and future expansion.

The proposal puts the burden of paying for the park squarely on the city. Wednesday's briefing repeatedly stresses that the city will not fund the nonprofits' operating costs, but it will have to pony up $12 million from a 2006 bond package to build arenas, stalls, fenced pastures and otherwise develop the site.

That's a lot of money to pour into a project that will serve Equest's150 patients and however many Dallasites want to pay River Ranch for a trail ride. The hope is that the park will continue to develop and become an economic boon that brings in dollars but, per a city-sponsored economic impact study, that's not going to happen.

District 11 park board member Lee Kleinman sent a letter to council members urging them to oppose moving the project forward. The reason there was so little private investment is because few people have any use for a horse park, he argues. The money would be much better spent building two to three "modern, year round, aquatic facilit(ies)" that would serve thousands of people.

But the horse park does still have two things going for it: the adjective "world-class" and the opportunity to watch Mayor Mike Rawlings ride a pony, both of which are priceless.

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When will the city stop developing projects like the THP in the Great Trinity Forest to just "piss off" the environmentalist and nature enthusiasts that desire and advocate for the conservation of the GTF and it's peripheries?  Another 500 acres will be gone.  This was surely the mind set of the 'North Dallas' women that originally started the THP concept with BRW and encouraged by the city from their promises of private sector funding.  About a decade ago, the original THP private sector ladies bs'd about coming up with $15 million, never really meant to come up with the funds, then, when it came time to ante up the $$ they left town or withdrew, leaving the city to pay for all the meetings and planning.  Now, the city (TRCPO), with it's lack of creativity wants to carry on with the same concept and pay for it with 2006 bond money that I'm sure was not detailed in the bond package. This type of vindictive leadership is so petty and so indicative of the TRCPO (Trinity River Corridor Project Office) and the city in general.  We need the THP like we needed the "Standing Wave," now that is truly World Class, oh, I forgot, it isn't even open after $6 million. 


This is a waste of tax payer money.   We can't maintain the existing park system why add another expense to the budget.


Very sad, but a very telling example of what a dysfunctional mess the City of Dallas has devolved into under the "leadership" of Mary Suhm.


As we all know, money for regular parks (heck, for anything used/enjoyed by regular citizens) in the in the City of Dallas is incredibly scarce.


Yet, here we go again, dumping $12 million more (on top of $2 million already spent) into a horse park without really any justification whatsoever.  As pointed out by those much wiser than me, this facility will be of limited appeal (as evidenced by the fact that it's decade-long fund raising effort failed).


The efforts to dress up this proposal by including purported "interest" from SMU come across as sad and pathetic.

City to SMU:  Do you mind if we reserve space (at no cost or obligation to you) in our horse park for a future facility that you are under absolutely no obligation to build?

SMU to City:  Uhhhhh..... sure.  Whatever.


The proposed location of the Horse Park will destroy a massive Native American site that has been left undisturbed for thousands of years. More importantly, the city has turned a deaf ear to the archeology of the location and plans to build a parking lot on the historic site of Sam Houston's camp at White Rock Spring. The Indian artifacts are so numerous here that just a kick of a boot will turn something up. In the 1940s Indian graves were marked here and an Indian Mound noted in what is now the transmission power line right of way.


It was at this location where President Sam Houston and his treaty party camped on their way to an important gathering of Indian Confederacies to make peace, allowing for European settlement of North Texas. Not only is a visit by a President of the Republic of Texas noteworthy but the founding father of Dallas, John Neely Bryan raised a family on that very spot after the Civil War. It looks the same today as it did back then.


The large centuries old trees, the pecans and walnuts probably planted by Indians in many cases. That will all be destroyed I'm afraid. The proposed collegiate space looks like it would be built directly on top of the spring area, one of the only remaining springs left in Dallas. Water so clean you can drink from it.


The people who know and care about this place are regular citizens. We don't have a war chest of money to fight the city like those homeowners that opposed the city's Winfrey Point parking garage. This place is in an obscure part of town, in an obscure neighborhood, at the back end of an obscure pasture. It's dead quiet down there, save for the sound of the water cranking out of the limestone. I cannot impress upon others how poor of a decision it would be to build anything in that pasture. It would be a grave mistake for future generations of Dallasites.




city will not fund the nonprofits' operating costs, but it will have to pony up $12 million from a 2006 bond package to build arenas, stalls, fenced pastures and otherwise develop the site.....


Eric, the way you wrote that statement is vastly different from DMN version which had more 'nuance' to their piece therefore enabling me to skim over it without calculating what it involved.

Now, that we know that the City of Dallas would be spending $12 million from the 2006 bond package, with our crappy streets, I say this should be an easy 'No' vote. Let's see who spins it on Wednesday and who votes "yes".  Thanks for the clarity, once again.



 Ben,  the pattern is so typical of what we found in records obtained to fight the Arboretum expansion and the other "sell off parkland" projects.  You can believe those of us along Garland Road are very concerned.


 @BenS what Ben said. I can only say as strongly as I know how, just how special that spring is. You would not believe how beautiful and pristine this spot is. I hope that it remains untouched a legacy for our children, as it was preserved for us for over 150 years. 



 Raymond, waiting to see what happens at Council.  Another reason for the Drilling folks, SaveWinfrey and the new Save White Rock Park folks at the Peninsula to continue to make their voices heard.

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