SOUTH JORDAN, Utah - Hundreds of equestrian enthusiasts filled the arena of the Salt Lake County Equestrian Center Monday with one clear message: keep the facility open.
The crowd gathered for a town hall meeting with the Salt Lake County council to discuss the future of the facility.
It’s part of a larger discussion brought up earlier this year by councilwoman Aimee Winder Newton. She raised the question in a blog post whether they should continue to provide a subsidy to the center, one that costs the county $1 million a year.
“It’s been an absolute delight to hear feedback on how people are using the equestrian park, and to hear how passionate they are about this facility,” Newton said. “And it’s not just horses that are here, to hear all of the other uses has been really interesting for us.”
The 120 acres of ground has an event arena, rodeo grounds and a race track. One of the main concerns has been a decline in use, but many in attendance question the facility’s management, a company that specializes more in events, than equestrian sports.
“When the county ran it, it was very well run,” said horse trainer Sandi Morgan. “The horse community is a little bit different.”
The county faces four different options when looking at funding: leave the center as is with modest improvements, enhance it and upgrade the grounds, making it more desirable to regional events, reduce amenities and use some of the land for soccer fields, or close it completely.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams told the crowd he doesn’t support any option that closes it. While that brought some comfort to attendees, it doesn’t secure the facility’s future.
“I’ll take him at his word on that,” said Salt Lake County resident Rochelle Symons. “I’d hope he’s forthright about that, but some of the other council members have said, well, we’re just not sure.”
The county council addressed many of the concerns brought up by the crowd including how taxpayer money is used. They’re still accepting public comment on the proposals, more information can be found at http://www.equestrianparkcoalition.com/