Equestrian area cut from Southeast Regional Park plan

Thursday, February 18, 2010 | 10:40 p.m. CST; updated 9:36 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Equestrians will have to find a new place to ride if City Council approves the Parks and Recreation Department's new plan for the Southeast Regional Park.

The Parks and Recreation Commission approved scrapping the idea of using 17 acres for an equestrian area during its meeting Thursday. Instead, the new plan will use the space for a natural preservation area.


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One of the main issues surrounding the plan is how to manage water runoff from parking lots and buildings. It's difficult to manage runoff that's touched horse manure "due to the wide open and dispersed nature of the activity," according to the department's proposal presented at the Feb. 1 City Council meeting. The proposal also noted the area has sinkholes where the runoff could penetrate the ground.

Nineteen residents gathered to offer their input on the plan at the meeting. Six of them voiced their agreement in removing the equestrian area, but Richard Shanker asked for the area to be put back into the plan.

Shanker, a member of the Osage Group and the Columbia Audubon Society, disagreed with the department's assessment of how horses would impact the area.

"As soon as you use the 'd word' — development — it's going to cause problems," Shanker said. "To say a few horses riding on 17 acres is going to impact more than the hundreds of acres of ball fields, bathrooms, parking lots, in my opinion, is relatively naive."

Representatives from the the Columbia Audobon Society, Friends of Rock Bridge State Park, Missouri Parks Association and the Osage Group all voiced their support for the removal of the equestrian area during public comment.

The plan aims to coordinate the development of two parks totaling 460 acres in southeast Columbia. The plan requires the Planning and Zoning Commission's review before it goes before City Council for approval.

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pat smith February 19, 2010 | 3:09 p.m.

It’s very disappointing to see how the Parks and Recreation Department narrowly defines park users and who they listen to when planning recreation areas. Missouri's 2008-2012 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan lists equestrian trails as number 4 in its recreation goals and priorities. I guess what the special interest nature preservation groups have to say carries more weight -- and limits the users to who they think should be there. Richard Shanker is right: It’s all how you look at it, and it’s clear now what lens the Parks Dept. uses.

(Report Comment)
Jason Entermyer February 19, 2010 | 3:35 p.m.

So, protecting the environment is less important than allowing horseback riding? Horses are already allowed at the 2,000+ acre Rock Bridge State Park so why do we need another 17 acres? It never made sense to add an equestrian area to this park. Don't most people with horses have their own area to ride? The few that stable their horses are usually at places that provide space. Plus, there's other public places at the Boone County Fairgrounds and Three Creeks Recreation Area as well.

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