Horseman's Club prez: 'A snake in the grass is a snake in the grass'
Dec. 3, 2013 at 6:03 a.m.
Updated Dec. 4, 2013 at 6:04 a.m.
Victoria officials want to take back the reins of the equestrian arena at Riverside Park.
The City Council agreed Tuesday to put the issue up to a vote in January on whether to terminate the 50-year-long lease agreement with the Horseman's Club a year early.
While the city subsidizes "quality of life" activities, such as golf, baseball, basketball, skateboarding and more, "the city has a duty to ensure a reasonable level of maintenance is performed," said Mayor Paul Polasek.
He said the club is not meeting the city's expectations of maintenance and upkeep, including mowing, condition of the buildings, stands and announcer's box.
"The expectation has been that the Horseman's Club would keep the facilities in reasonable condition in exchange for the right to lease the facilities to raise funds for the club and use the facility to promote equestrian activities for the public," Polasek said.
However, Mose Moore, president of the club, said he wants to finish out the lease.
"I never was invited to this meeting tonight," he said. "This was one of those hush-hush meetings without me supposed to know about it."
The agenda for the meeting was posted at City Hall and on the website Nov. 26.
Polasek said the club agreed to write a letter agreeing to end the lease at the end of this year, but so far, no action has been taken.
Moore contended the club has not been included in the discussion.
"They didn't contact me that they would be discussing this," Moore said. "As it is now, a snake in the grass is a snake in the grass."
Polasek, along with council members Emett Alvarez and Tom Halepaska, have worked with the club for almost 18 months to reach an agreement on the lease and the diminishing conditions of the equestrian facility.
"We've had a lease agreement with the Horseman's Club for somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 years," Polasek said. "Part of our agreement with them is that they maintain the arena."
Halepaska said the issue with the lease at the park has been ongoing the past decade.
"It's not an idea of shutting it down," Halepaska said. "We have safety concerns about the facilities."
Since the formal meeting, Halepaska said he has seen no improvement.
"There has been no movement whatsoever, pro or con," he said.
The mayor said it is too early to tell how the facility will operate in the future.
There is a possibility it would stay open during regular park hours to anyone wanting to ride a horse. The facility could also be rented for special events and would still be available to the Horseman's Club.