Victoria officials to terminate 50-year-old lease with Horseman's Club

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Jan. 7, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 7, 2014 at 7:08 p.m.

Ending a relationship 50 years in the making, Victoria City Council on Tuesday decided to terminate the lease with the Horseman's Club at Riverside Park.

Mayor Paul Polasek plans to outline a strategy to repair and renovate the facility and even keep it open for the club to continue using.

However, Club President Mose Moore said without its equipment, the facility is a concession stand with a busted roof and a pile of dirt.

"I want it to stay the Victoria Horseman's Club," Moore said. "There's not going to be an arena unless the city will buy a new one."

The City Council voted unanimously to end the lease despite Councilman Jeff Bauknight debating there was no reason to vote on the issue and Councilman Emett Alvarez saying the city's issues with the contract are "subjective."

"My concern is how can we move forward to make the facility better," Alvarez said. "You want to pull this trigger and debate all this, that's fine; the bigger issue is fixing the facility and the funding for it."

City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz said the club breached the contract on eight fronts, including developing plans to bring the restrooms up to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, maintaining the condition of the premises, following a fee schedule, submitting annual statements of revenues and expenditures, submitting annual operation policies, providing proof of insurance coverage, providing lists of members and officers, and submitting statements of concession stand expenses and revenues.

Bauknight said if the club is out of compliance, the city could either let the lease expire at the end of the year or the city manager could terminate it without a vote.

Polasek said the issue has gone on too long.

"If we let it expire, what do you think will happen between now and then?" he asked. "Nothing."

City Manager Charmelle Garrett is now tasked with sending a certified letter to the club notifying it of the city's intention to terminate the lease. The club will have 30 days before the city reclaims the property.

Once the city has control of the property, Garrett said city staff members would examine the facility and make recommendations about repairs and costs, which would be included in next year's budget.

Donna Sparks, 55, a lifetime club member, said she was not surprised by the vote.

"I think it's going to end up being a positive," she said.

She said the arena itself is safe to ride in and said the stands were repaired last year.

"We're just down to a handful of people," she said. "It's hard for us to raise money."

Polasek said the use of the facility will not change. The club, as well as any other equestrian group, can continue using it for events and meetings.

"No one is locking anyone out," he said. "The only difference is the keys will belong to the parks director, and he'll lock it every night."



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