What do you see the role of the County Equestrian Facility for Salt Lake County?
The role of the equestrian facility is multi-faceted. It is an anchor for racehorse training, 4-H practice and events, horse shows, the County Fair, winter BMX, etc. The equestrian facility is one of the components of providing balanced recreation, an economic driver and quality of life for the county residents. As such, the equestrian facility must stay intact and be enhanced.
The facility is uniquely positioned to draw local, county, state and regional shows and events.
What improvements need to occur?
Although the basic infrastructure is there (indoor arena, outdoor covered arena, stalls and racetrack), many improvements must be implemented in order to hold events in a respectable manner.
Some of the improvements include:
– Sewer, water and power hookups for horse trailers and RV’s. Multiple day shows require hook-ups. This will also prevent trucks and trailers parking next to the stalls in a disorganized and dangerous manner
– Dressage arenas. A couple dressage arenas should be built to the west of the existing stadium seating that over-looks the racetrack.
– Three-day event course. A jumping course should be installed in the center of the racetrack. The two dressage arenas can be used to accommodate the dressage and stadium-jumping portion of the event.
– Warm up arena attached to the back of the indoor arena. The small warm up area that is often gated off in the indoor arena is both dangerous and inefficient. There is no way to properly warm up a horse in that small of an area. A full sized warm up area must be available so exhibitors can adequately prepare for their upcoming class.
– Restroom and shower facilities. Port A Potties are not acceptable. The equestrian facility needs adequate restroom and shower facilities for the exhibitors and guests, whether they are on site for one day or several days.
How does the County fund those improvements?
There are several ways to fund the necessary improvements, but there are very specific items that need to be addressed prior to improvements. First and foremost; fire the current management. An out of state entity that does not understand the horse industry should not be managing our local facility. Next, determine the new management structure and entity. Local people who understand the horse and livestock industry should manage the facility. I am in favor of forming an entity, whether it is a 501c3, non-profit or some other type of organization. This group can lease the facility from the County or have some type of management agreement. The group can then determine what shows are available, what facility improvements are needed and book the events as the facility improvements allow. For example, the managing group will be able to identify cutting events, barrel racing, dressage, Paints, Quarters and many others. They can work with the organizations representing the different disciplines to commit dates, facilities, fees, etc. If operated properly, multiple events can occur on the same dates or weekends.
The managing entity will be responsible for identifying the necessary improvements, their cost and funding. The funding can come from donors, in kind contributions, money from the County and possibly, the State. One reason that I like the 501c3, non-profit component is that it encourages and allows financial donations from willing donors. There is no reason that we cannot approach giving foundations for naming rights and matching donations. For example, a foundation can contribute $200,000.00, which is matched by locals with product (equipment, soil, etc.), which is then matched by the County and or State. The managing entity can also work with economic development to run accurate proformas, showing the positive financial impact the facility has on the economy. They should receive much of the same treatment that Visit Salt Lake attracts with Outdoor Retailers. The proformas will show the economic impact for things such as; feed, vet bills, tack, show outfits, trucks, trailers, fuel, hotel stays, restaurants and so on. Some of the revenues generated should return to the facility for updates, improvements and maintenance.
Since the equestrian facility will be drawing from the region, the managing committee should work with the State Office of Tourism for marketing funds.
What are your thoughts regarding 4H and FFA programs in the County?
We must expand and strengthen our 4H and FFA programs. I do not know of a better use of time and resources for our youngsters than these ag programs. Kids learn responsibility, hard work and commitment as they care for and show their livestock. This is also a great way to keep our youth involved in activities, which then deters drug use and unhealthy behavior. As the programs and support grows, we can include more kids, including inner city, refugees and the under privileged. We also need to better engage our local businesses and corporations to purchase the finished show animals, which will then provide valuable scholarship and education opportunities for our kids.
The fee’s for the everyday user must remain very affordable and we will look at including a family pass.
What are your thoughts regarding agriculture in the County?
Agriculture and farming play a very important role in the lives of many in the County. We must respect and honor the way of life, the invaluable lessons it teaches and the production of the land. For those who want to see their lands remain open and productive, the County must have a system in place, which provides conservation easements that run with the land, ensuring their intended use in perpetuity. Also, flood irrigation and farming consume vast amounts of water. We need to implement best management practices for water usage on our farmlands.
The horse people should not be put in a position where they have to vote yes for a 90 million dollar Bond in order to get improvements at the equestrian park!