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Equestrian center worth the price

Mike Lederhause

When the new barn at the Eagle County Fairgrounds was proposed in a more modest size I believe it was you, Peter, who checked other facilities around the state and then promoted building the larger barn. This barn is great for a lot of events and has been a great asset to the folks of Eagle County.

I understand that the facility is often booked and highly thought of by the folks who are using it. The proposal to change the use of the building does not make sense. I realize Arn Menconi was against the barn from the beginning and this seems like his childish arrogance is once again showing by trying to change the use of this building to satisfy his ego. I would hope that you both see the value of this building for the livestock owners and will preserve it for the original intended use.

There are numerous facilities in the county for indoor recreation supported by the various recreation districts and local towns. This is the only facility of this type in the county and possibly adjoining counties that is open to the public for horse and livestock events.



There are some costs to the county in providing such a facility and possibly the user fees do not cover these costs. This is a small price to pay for the benefits gained. The young folks using this facility for 4-H, Freedom Riders Drill Team, Little Britches Rodeo, and other organizations, whose participants are the future leaders of our country. These young folks are not the ones out there involved in gangs and other criminal activity. Many of these young folks are deeply involved in these activities, along with their entire family, which builds valuable family time, responsibility and teamwork.

On more than one occasion I have heard stated that Eagle County cares for kids. Now prove it. Your board has spent millions of dollars for child care, building bike paths and repaving roads just so bicyclists would have a smoother ride. In addition, your board has donated substantial sums of money to other organizations such as the Snowboard Outreach Society. Maintaining this facility for the present uses is a great investment in not only the young folks who will benefit from its use but their family and the community as well.

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The various events held in this facility bring folks to the county who spend money here in addition to any use fees collected. This in turn brings in sales tax revenue for the county and towns.

I believe the entire fairgrounds complex could be used for additional events like West Fest, and I understood last year that Michael Martin Murphy was looking for a new location to hold West Fest. I gave this information to Laurie Asmussen last summer, but I am not sure if she has followed up on it. I spoke with Red Steagall last February about such an event as he organizes a similar event in Fort Worth every year and has participated in Murphy’s West Fest. He advised it would take some group or organization to organize and sponsor such an event and he would be willing to offer some advice. West Fest was a great event and brought people from many states to Copper Mountain for a number of years. West Fest has tried other locations, but none really provided the facilities needed. Our fairgrounds would be an excellent place for such an event, possibly over a Labor Day weekend and it would go well with the present uses.

Closing this facility to horse and livestock use would be wrong and the great expense to change the floor surface, plus the utility costs, would be born by the taxpayers, whether it was the recreation district or the county. The board needs to consider the big picture and support the youth and families in this county that have only one choice of facilities for their activities. It is important to preserve what is left of the rural flavor and ranching heritage in Eagle County. Many of the folks that move here come for the outdoor rural atmosphere, which includes horses and livestock. If everyone wanted to stay inside and play hockey they did not have to come to Eagle County to do that. There is much more to life in Eagle County than skiing, golfing and bike riding.



Thank you for your consideration of this important decision.


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