To cover or not to cover the Nicole Hornstein Equestrian Park arena is not the question, but merely how to do it and with how many amenities. That was a key topic of discussion at the Wednesday, Feb. 17 meeting of the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors.
“The one thing everyone wants is a covered arena,” ITID President Betty Argue said. “And they want it sooner, rather than later.”
The comments came as the supervisors declined to approve a conceptual site plan offered by ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson and district staff, and instead added further discussion of the plan to its March 10 workshop agenda.
Other supervisors agreed that a covered arena at the park, located on Hamlin Blvd. between Grapeview Blvd. and Hall Blvd., would be a “good selling point” for the community.
However, covering the main arena will not come cheap, ITID Assistant Executive Director Robert Robinson told the board. His loose estimate is between $700,000 and $800,000 for the covered arena structure alone. That estimate does not include lighting or improved footing in the arena, loudspeakers, bleachers or upgraded drainage. Firm cost estimates are hard to come by, as many companies are reluctant to give quotes well in advance of construction, explained Robinson, who is also ITID’s chief construction officer.
Hanson said he has been researching similar facilities, particularly Timer Powers Park in Indiantown.
Martin County allocated $2.2 million in 2014 to construct a covered, lighted arena, plus install permanent bleachers, water lines and restrooms to the pre-existing park, according to WPTV, which reported on the decision at the time.
The district recently was awarded a $400,000 grant through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grants program to assist with upgrades at the park, Hanson noted. He said he doesn’t expect the Hornstein project to be as expensive as Timer Powers.
“If the cost does become an issue, I think you heard the board say that they would consider a phased-in approach,” Hanson told the Town-Crier after the meeting. “But I think it’s clear that they’re committed to a covered arena in the first phase.”
Also included in the proposal presented to the board are a multi-rail wooden fence surrounding the park, a dressage area, an enlarged outdoor arena, more shower racks and water faucets, overflow parking, and an extensive, wheelchair-accessible pedestrian trail throughout the park.
Supervisor Jennifer Hager objected to the walking trail, saying that it would detract from the ability of equestrians to move freely around the park with their horses.
While she agreed that more needs to be done to ensure accessibility, Argue pointed out that the park’s pavilion and restrooms already are accessible and that the extensive pedestrian walkway might be an overreach. “I think we can modify the walkway plan and still provide the needed accessibility,” she said.
Her focus remains on the covered arena.
“We’re utterly committed to our equestrian community… [and] we’re committed to a covered, lighted arena,” Argue said after the meeting. “I think there are a multitude of reasons why it would be a benefit to the community.”
However, the cost factor must be fully considered.
“Mr. Hanson, and all of us, have to look at it from a taxpayer perspective,” she said. “We just have to figure out the best and fastest way to get there.”
The Wednesday, March 10 workshop is open to the public in person or via Zoom. For more information, visit www.indiantrail.com.