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The Voice of Reason

PROPOSED:Hartford Equestrian Complex

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http://www.courant.com/community/news/hfd/...0,7684064.story

The backers of a plan to take 200 acres of Hartford's Keney Park and build a $65 million, world-class equestrian and exhibition center want "tentative" development rights to the property from the city.

According to a study presented to the city last summer, the center would lease the land from the city and would have a 37,500-square-foot main building with a museum, gift shop, restaurant and meeting space. The center also would include stables; 1,500 parking spaces; a polo field; rodeo, show, warm-up and grand prix jumping arenas; a saddle horse ring; and, of course, a manure holding shed.

Patricia Kelly, head of the Ebony Horsewomen, wants the city to give her organization the "tentative developer" status so it can have time to find investors. She says the project would bring money to the city via jobs and tourism.

City council Democratic Majority Leader rJo Winch likes the plan.

"The project is new, it's different, it's going to generate new money coming into the city of Hartford," Winch said. "What's the park used for now? Drugs, debris, garbage. So, to me, when I look at what people are doing with the park now vs. what people will be doing with the park then, it's a no-brainer."

But city Councilman Luis Cotto, who chairs the council's parks committee, is squarely against the proposal and questions whether the public park can even be used for the private venture. Cotto said he sees no economic benefit to the city, fears the loss of city park land and questions the project's viability.

I see both sides of this issue, but since most of the park is not utilized or groomed I think this is a good idea. especially if the city gets a decent rental fee. Ultimately loosing trees is sad, and I think the parking lot is a little huge. (people can park in pasture for large events so hopefully it wont be paved) but this is not a groomed well used piece of parkland and if turning it into a better function brings money to the city and the area then I am all for it. Its kind of like the crew boat house. its a building in a park and its a positive.

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This idea has been kicked around for years. It was on the metrohartford list before 2000. There is very little downside to tis project. And he folks who compete in these contests are virtually recession proof.

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My grandmother lives in that neighborhood. If the residents are against it, I don't support it. A local park is after all mean't to benefit that communities residents. I'm not sure anything should be done to soley benefit suburbanites. If they get on board I think it can be viable and have a wider impact on the park aside from just that single development.

I do take issue with them painting that park of the park as desolate. If they are talking about the area where I think they are people hang out and talk(the very point of a park) there is a basketball court and there are very well attended cricket matches.

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My grandmother lives in that neighborhood. If the residents are against it, I don't support it. A local park is after all mean't to benefit that communities residents. I'm not sure anything should be done to soley benefit suburbanites. If they get on board I think it can be viable and have a wider impact on the park aside from just that single development.

I do take issue with them painting that park of the park as desolate. If they are talking about the area where I think they are people hang out and talk(the very point of a park) there is a basketball court and there are very well attended cricket matches.

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OK so I was just looking online about this parkland.

Yes I have an active brain but I am sick and therefore stuck firmly in front of the computer looking up everything I could ever want to know. :P

That being said, Keney park is like I posted almost 700 acres, and it does not include the golf course or cemetary. The interesting thing is that just north of Keney park is a State park called Meadows Park that fills in all the land North to 218 (cottage grove road). and then there is the Cemetary up there Mt St Benedict.

http://www.themdc.com/GISMaps/1600s/Windsor1600.pdf

That part is in Windsor, but the point is that it is an absolutely huge area of open space.

If you look at Keeny Park on google earth with the park filter on you can imagine dividing it into 1/3rds and use the Western third for the horse thing. it looks to me that the rest would be completely untouched. and there would still be some 500 acres of park there plus the golf course, cemetary. Not to mention what looks like another ~800 acres of state land North of that.

The moral of the story that if all the parties worked together this should be something that can easily get done.

If the world class rising center wants the land, they have to take the land that the city is willing to let them use, and that should not include the already developed parts of the park. it should also not boarder the road, it should be done in a way that maintains the asthetic. There should not be a huge parking lot right in any ones back yard. there really is a lot of space there.

Also this world class horse center should be sure to be inclusive and not exclusive of the community.

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OK so I was just looking online about this parkland.

Yes I have an active brain but I am sick and therefore stuck firmly in front of the computer looking up everything I could ever want to know. :P

That being said, Keney park is like I posted almost 700 acres, and it does not include the golf course or cemetary. The interesting thing is that just north of Keney park is a State park called Meadows Park that fills in all the land North to 218 (cottage grove road). and then there is the Cemetary up there Mt St Benedict.

http://www.themdc.com/GISMaps/1600s/Windsor1600.pdf

That part is in Windsor, but the point is that it is an absolutely huge area of open space.

If you look at Keeny Park on google earth with the park filter on you can imagine dividing it into 1/3rds and use the Western third for the horse thing. it looks to me that the rest would be completely untouched. and there would still be some 500 acres of park there plus the golf course, cemetary. Not to mention what looks like another ~800 acres of state land North of that.

The moral of the story that if all the parties worked together this should be something that can easily get done.

If the world class rising center wants the land, they have to take the land that the city is willing to let them use, and that should not include the already developed parts of the park. it should also not boarder the road, it should be done in a way that maintains the asthetic. There should not be a huge parking lot right in any ones back yard. there really is a lot of space there.

Also this world class horse center should be sure to be inclusive and not exclusive of the community.

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The cricket field generates NO REVENUE and could easily be moved. Who needs jobs and a world class facility that fills hotel rooms and supports local businesses when you can have an empty field.

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The cricket field generates NO REVENUE and could easily be moved. Who needs jobs and a world class facility that fills hotel rooms and supports local businesses when you can have an empty field.

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The cricket field generates NO REVENUE and could easily be moved. Who needs jobs and a world class facility that fills hotel rooms and supports local businesses when you can have an empty field.

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Lots of parks generate revenue including Elizabeth Park in Hartford and Central Park in New York. When its done right, like this proposed complex the community is a big winner.

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I think the community would probably use the field more often than the equestrian complex. I'm not familiar with this proposal, but there is an obvious bit of sketchiness with the whole thing. I also don't think we need to lose any wooded area or park land for development.

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Lots of parks generate revenue including Elizabeth Park in Hartford and Central Park in New York. When its done right, like this proposed complex the community is a big winner.

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Regardless that does not mean things are too be judged by their ability to create profit. The cricket field is their for community use, which is indisputably the function of a park.

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Another article about the facility

http://www.courant.com/news/local/ec/hc-34...0,1993827.story

There is quite a bit more information in the article, but also mentions a facility in VA that exists and that they would like to patern this one after. I linked the other facility web site.

Kelly and Gary are seeking "tentative developer status" for 240 acres of the 693-acre Keney Park from the city council so they can seek investors for the equestrian center. Kelly and Gary are hoping the board acts on their request soon in order to pursue investors, a full-fledged environmental impact study must be done in the spring. Otherwise, it will have to wait until 2010, delaying yet again a project that was begun in 1987.

An equestrian center makes sense in Connecticut. We've got the most horses per capita of any state, and a multimillion-dollar horse industry flourishes here. The equestrian center, as proposed, would include a 6,000-seat indoor arena, a polo field, a grand prix jumping arena, a dressage ring, a rodeo arena, an 1,800-stall barn, riding trails and more.

This is the horse center that the developers are envisioning as a patern.

It is in Virginia and is pretty damn impressive.

http://horsecenter.org/view.asp?id=facilities

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Another article about the facility

http://www.courant.com/news/local/ec/hc-34...0,1993827.story

There is quite a bit more information in the article, but also mentions a facility in VA that exists and that they would like to patern this one after. I linked the other facility web site.

Kelly and Gary are seeking "tentative developer status" for 240 acres of the 693-acre Keney Park from the city council so they can seek investors for the equestrian center. Kelly and Gary are hoping the board acts on their request soon in order to pursue investors, a full-fledged environmental impact study must be done in the spring. Otherwise, it will have to wait until 2010, delaying yet again a project that was begun in 1987.

An equestrian center makes sense in Connecticut. We've got the most horses per capita of any state, and a multimillion-dollar horse industry flourishes here. The equestrian center, as proposed, would include a 6,000-seat indoor arena, a polo field, a grand prix jumping arena, a dressage ring, a rodeo arena, an 1,800-stall barn, riding trails and more.

This is the horse center that the developers are envisioning as a patern.

It is in Virginia and is pretty damn impressive.

http://horsecenter.org/view.asp?id=facilities

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Courant not on board:

Good Idea, Wrong Place: Equestrian Center Should Not Be Built In Keney Park

March 24, 2009

Two decades ago, a developer wanted to build housing inside the periphery of Keney Park. City leaders rightly said no. The idea resurfaced again last year, and was again turned away. Now a group wants to build a major equestrian center in the park. The answer must again be no. That is not what the parks are for. The equestrian center proposal comes from the nonprofit Ebony Horsewomen. They want to lease 240 acres of the 693-acre Keney Park from the city for the project, and have asked to be given "tentative developer" status so they can seek investors. The city council must turn down this request. City parks are not a place for developers, tentative or otherwise, and to allow development in one park is to open the door for it at the others. To oppose this idea is not to disparage horseback riding, which has always been done in the park, or the Ebony Horsewomen. They are an outstanding group. They have stables adjacent to the park and run a program that teaches city youngsters to ride and care for horses. Respect for the horsewomen could be why leaders such as Mayor Eddie Perez and council majority leader rJo Winch have expressed support for the equestrian center.

What they are not looking at is the scale and intensity of the project. It would take a third of the city's largest park and have a 37,500-square-foot main building with a museum, gift shop, restaurant and meeting space. It would include stables, 1,500 to 2,000 parking spaces, a polo field and four jumping arenas. It is one thing to put a small recreational building in a park, quite another to build something the size of a shopping center. Keney is a historic park, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, one of the "Rain of Parks" envisioned in the late 19th century by leaders such as the Rev. Horace Bushnell and the Rev. Francis Goodwin. Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., Hartford native and father of the famous landscape architecture, hiked through the area as a boy. His firm, then run by his sons, designed the park after donor Henry Keney died in the 1890s. Some say Keney Park does not get as much use as it should. There are things the city can do to better connect it to surrounding neighborhoods, such as cutting back the tree canopy in certain areas and paving some of the bike trails. The important point is to keep it as a public park. The parks that leaders rained on the city a century ago are a tremendous asset that cannot be squandered, for any reason. That's why city leaders and parks advocates should develop a set of standards for what can and cannot be done in city parks. Otherwise, as history shows, there will always be people who want to use them for something other than the purpose for which they were intended.

What about the dump? Too hilly for horses?

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The concept behind the papers opinion is fine, but their arguments are weak.

Also their concept is that it ruins the park forever.

I do not see how this is accurate. its a lease, not a sale, and if the project is designed property would improve the park and the entire area. I am not inclined to beleive that an existing known upstanding charity is looking to deface the park they currently call home for the sake of financial betterment.

these people are trying to help, so lets let them look further into it and then if things dont pass mustard than the city can put on the brakes.

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This proposal will come up in front of city council last night.

apparently they chose to take no action.

I am sure it will come back from corporate council and then a decision will be made.

I called the city council, you should too.

I told them to go ahead with it and see what develops. if they come back with funding and a good plan go for it if they conme back with a bad plan kill it dead. but right now it does not hurt to let them look into funding etc on the concept.

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This proposal will come up in front of city council last night.

apparently they chose to take no action.

I am sure it will come back from corporate council and then a decision will be made.

I called the city council, you should too.

I told them to go ahead with it and see what develops. if they come back with funding and a good plan go for it if they conme back with a bad plan kill it dead. but right now it does not hurt to let them look into funding etc on the concept.

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It has taken John Rose and his cracker -jack staff almost four months since the City Council asked for an opinion from his office as to the legality of this idea. Why do you think this is? Because under the deed restrictions when the Keney family gave the land to the city , this is an unacceptable use as outlined in the deed. Very similar to Perez's idea to build a school at the corner of Farmington and Broad. After he spent at least $4 million taxpayer dollars on his ill-fated plan, the State made him stop and stated he had been warned that was an unacceptable use of the land, as outlined in the deed. I guess they will never learn

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I will further add yo HT's statement that horse riding and outdoor activities are very much in line with the concept of a park.

Mind you if the design of the horse facility are detrimental to the parkland in that it is exclusionary, paves over huge areas, does not contribute to the comunity as recreational space... than its a very bad idea.

but I see a horse complex as potentially very synergistic with park like activities.

it is all in the design.

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I'm not seeing the difference between an Equestrian addition and the Cricket Pitches or the Golf Course. I was just at Keeney on Thursday, and I'm thinking an Equestrian Park might be a good addition...

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I'm not seeing the difference between an Equestrian addition and the Cricket Pitches or the Golf Course. I was just at Keeney on Thursday, and I'm thinking an Equestrian Park might be a good addition...

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good news (at least in my not so humble opinion) The ruling is that the Equestrian Center is an OK use of Keney Park.

"so long as uses are recreational in keeping with the definition of a public park and for the benefit of all the public,"

according to a legal opinion from the city's attorneys.

Will the equestrian center "benefit all of the public?"

the only restrictions on park usage will be when there are horses in town for a big horse show.

Sure the city can find a way to torpedo this, but it would be splitting hairs if you ask me. if there is a concert in a city park and the attendees must pay to participate it is the same thing as paying to watch or participate in a big horse show right?

so as long as this horse facility is open to anyone with 5 or 10 bucks I do not see a problem.

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