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County Explores Options for Equestrian Park

Apr 07, 2016 04:44PM ● Published by Tori La Rue

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com

South Jordan - The Salt Lake County Equestrian Park and Event Center in South Jordan may be seeing some changes in the near future. 

The county’s community services budget evaluation in November revealed that some costly safety upgrades are needed to keep the park running, and it’s already one of the most expensive community service areas in the county, Alyson Heyrend, county communications director, said. 

The park and event center brings in about $1 million in revenue but takes $2 million to maintain, which leaves a $1 million deficient covered by the county, said Daniel Hayes, general manager for SMG, the private company hired by the county to manage the park and center. 

“We are trying to figure out how to maintain the facility in an acceptable manner while managing the money we are spending of taxpayer dollars for recreational purposes,” Heyrend said. 

The county council and county community services are exploring the following four options for the facility: operating the facility status quo, expanding the use of the facility, reducing the equestrian park size and repurposing the park.

If they operated the park status quo, the county would maintain the current programs the facility provides and invest the money needed to ensure safety within those services, Heyrend said. 

Another option is to expand the outreach of the park. Currently, the facility focuses on servicing local and state equestrian groups, but if this option were selected the county would focus on getting national and regional equestrian groups to travel to Salt Lake County’s facility, Hayes said. 

Typically, there’s more than 100 events at the Equestrian Park and Event Center each year, and there’s room for more, according to Hayes. National and regional equestrian groups usually book their events three to five years in advance, so there wouldn’t be a huge overlap in availability days.

The county’s also considering reducing the equestrian focus at the park and event center. If the facility focus was shifted, some of the current equestrian offerings of the park would no longer be available, Hayes said. Instead of equestrian services, some of the facility would be repurposed for sports field space, Callie Birdsall, communication manager for country parks and recreation, said.

The county council and community services are looking into completely repurposing the park by getting rid of the equestrian atmosphere and putting in sports fields. At this point the facility would become a regional park with a field house, Heyrend said. 

Hayes said he doesn’t think any of these options would require the county to move the Salt Lake County Fair. 

As a separate project, the county is looking into alternative options of places to have the county fair, Birdsall said.

“We always consider all viable options, but the most logical location is the Utah State Fair Park,” she said. 

Hayes said the location of the county fair and future of the Equestrian Park and Event Center will be discussed at county council meetings in the near future, although exact dates are still unknown.

Residents can see upcoming county council agendas here: http://slco.org/council-agendas/ 

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