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Future of the Florida horse Park

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  • Future of the Florida horse Park

    Has this been posted already?

    If not, I thought it was relevant


    Got this in an E-mail:

    Dear Fellow Eventer and Friend of the Florida Horse Park,

    On Tuesday, May 19th at 5 pm at the Holiday Inn in Ocala, the Board of Directors of the Florida Horse Park will meet to discuss the future of the Florida Horse Park and decide on the schedule of events for the 2009 season. Your participation in this open-to-the-public Board meeting can directly affect the future of one of our favorite equestrian venues in Florida.

    By now most of you are aware of the Florida Horse Park’s financial challenges. A story about the situation appeared on the front page of the Ocala Star Banner on February 24, 2009: http://www.ocala.com/article/2009022...CLES/902241006. Unfortunately, the Horse Park license plate project that was expected to earn the Horse Park an estimated $250,000 annually in revenue was killed in the final Senate sessions in Tallahassee last week: http://www.ocala.com/article/2009050...CLES/905079961. The application process cost the Horse Park $100,000 that it could ill afford to lose. This blow, coupled with the million-dollar debt as reported by the Star Banner, has left the Board of Directors few options in trying to balance the Horse Park’s in-the-red budget.

    An unfortunate example of the budget reality occurred this week with the termination of Shelley Lambert, the Horse Park’s Director of Events. Our understanding is that it will be proposed that this key staff position be contracted out. I hope you can all agree with us that the loss of Shelley’s 20-plus years of experience managing equestrian events, horse trials and three-day events at a number of venues around the country, several World Equestrian Games, and multiple Olympics competitions, seriously challenges the 2009 Florida Horse Park calendar of events which had been planned to include an equestrian activity or horse show nearly every weekend during the summer, fall and winter. As an Advanced-level three-day competitor, Shelley was able to bring a unique perspective and highly valuable skill set to the execution of her job responsibilities. It is difficult to for us to imagine that the Horse Park will be able to find someone as equally qualified to do the job for less money.

    Shelley’s last day as an employee of the Park will be Friday, May 15th.

    Additional budget savings may be realized in the form of the removal of activities from the Florida Horse Park Calendar of Events, events which cost money that the Horse Park doesn’t have. The most cost-intensive activities are the most likely initial budget cut targets, and unfortunately these also impact the greatest number of constituents - horse trials, FEI events, and schooling three phase shows. We would not be surprised to learn that the recommendation to the Board is that most of the shows on the 2009 calendar be scrapped, although we hope that at a minimum the November Mane Event, which hosts the Ocala Fall Horse Trials and Training 3-Day Event, will be kept on the calendar.

    SO, if you have valued your past experiences at the Florida Horse Park – whether it was a USEA-sanctioned event, a schooling horse trial, a clinic, or a schooling day – and believe the future is worth fighting for, we need your support and input. A group of local eventers in Marion County are banding together to formulate a plan of action and a proposal we intend to present to the Board of Directors next Tuesday. We would like every voice to be heard, whether you can be present for the meeting or wish to submit your thoughts in writing to be read to the Board. Our first ad hoc committee meeting will be held at Integrity Equestrian Center, 2300 West Hwy 329, Citra, FL on Tuesday, May 12, at 7 pm. If you would like to attend and be part of the meeting, we’d love to have you. If you can’t make it (we realize this is short notice, but we only found all this out at the end of last week), please make sure you submit your thoughts to one of the following committee members:

    Samantha Taylor - samanthjt@aol.com

    Leslie Hicks – integ650@aol.com

    Simone Cormier – simonecormier@msn.com

    John Kelly – Kelly@jkra.net

    Lesli Cohen – tincupeventing@gmail.com

    If you would like to be on the committee, please contact one of us and plan to be at our first meeting tomorrow night. We'll give you directions to the farm.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. The future of equestrian activities at the Horse Park in Ocala rests in our hands.



    Best regards,



    Lesli Cohen

    508-826-6657 mobile

  • #2
    I was hoping someone would post a thread about this.

    I just got off the phone discussing an idea I'd love to float here that came from the person I was speaking to. She was comparing our HP to KHP and noted how KHP has what I'd call an "anchor" in its museum and other, non-competition facilities/attractions. Her idea is that what we really need is consistent traffic through tourism, rather than relying solely on exhibitor-related traffic through competitions.

    My friend pointed out how significant the Thoroughbred breeding industry is here--and how we also have so many other top class breeds and breeders. Plus there's the native Florida Cracker and a ton of discipline-based organizations around to populate the offices and display areas of a museum. And we've got some big-name supporters, too, as some of the past funding of the park illustrates. I know from teaching non-profit management and fundraising that one thing sponsors like is permanence--name a building or wing after them, put up a statue or plaque in honor of them/someone they loved, dedicate a program or attraction to their business, whatever. I liked my friend's idea because a museum would establish both permanence and traffic.

    But I'm sure there are a ton of other good ideas out there. I hope this thread gets some attention!
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by pwynnnorman View Post
      I was hoping someone would post a thread about this.

      I just got off the phone discussing an idea I'd love to float here that came from the person I was speaking to. She was comparing our HP to KHP and noted how KHP has what I'd call an "anchor" in its museum and other, non-competition facilities/attractions. Her idea is that what we really need is consistent traffic through tourism, rather than relying solely on exhibitor-related traffic through competitions.

      My friend pointed out how significant the Thoroughbred breeding industry is here--and how we also have so many other top class breeds and breeders. Plus there's the native Florida Cracker and a ton of discipline-based organizations around to populate the offices and display areas of a museum. And we've got some big-name supporters, too, as some of the past funding of the park illustrates. I know from teaching non-profit management and fundraising that one thing sponsors like is permanence--name a building or wing after them, put up a statue or plaque in honor of them/someone they loved, dedicate a program or attraction to their business, whatever. I liked my friend's idea because a museum would establish both permanence and traffic.

      But I'm sure there are a ton of other good ideas out there. I hope this thread gets some attention!
      Wynn,
      This is a really good idea! We need great ideas to keep the park going!

      Comment


      • #4
        FHP Future looks bright (on paper)...

        Here's a link to the budget request Sue Noyes made to the Florida Legislature in 2000 for the FHP:

        http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Publicati...HSEReq2138.htm

        Here's an excerpt:

        "Services Provided/Benefit to State:

        A world class park that contains a museum/visitor center, an education center and agricultural display area, a 3,000-seat indoor multi-purpose arena, two covered warm-up areas, five 200-stall horse barns, two 300-stall agriculture barns that can be used for horses when needed, training tracks for all racing breeds for exhibition only (non-parimutuel) and other components necessary for international events. The Florida 2012 Committee has chosen the Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park as the 2012 Olympics equestrain venue site and the Authority is committed to developing this park well in advance of this event. Florida's bid must be submitted in December 2000."

        Here's another link to a Economic and Fiscal Impact Study prepared for the FHP, in 2008, by POLICOM Corp.:

        http://www.ocalacc.com/ocala_florida...ct%20Study.pdf
        Last edited by Plumb Loco; May. 12, 2009, 03:46 PM. Reason: Typo
        "Pigs and horses are mortal enemies." K. Perkins

        Comment


        • #5
          OK, so if a museum was already in the proposal, what happened? I may have missed it, but I must admit I've never seen any "push" for the building of a museum. All I've heard about is the need to build stalls.

          Anyway, thanks for posting that. Clearly, some of us need a little history lesson on all of this.
          Sportponies Unlimited
          Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

          Comment


          • #6
            We need a long range plan to generate $$

            PWyn,

            I'm with you. It's obvious that grand plans were laid for the FHP, but the execution of those plans fizzled (probably due to lack of funds). I also suspect that the high turn-over rate in the Executive Director's position over the past couple of years has not helped the situation.

            In light of the fact that the state of Florida is struggling to fund the public school system, I don't think the FHP can expect another large chunk of change from the State in the near future. Private donors are very much needed and appreciated but they are not going to carry us - nor should we expect them to. The FHP needs a creative and solid revenue generating plan that includes the entire community - not just the horse industry. Carnivals/Concerts/Fairs, etc.

            I understand that in some circumstances budgets must be cut, but if the FHP is to thrive and succeed the long range revenue plan needs to support the expansion vision and those responsible must be able to execute the plan.
            "Pigs and horses are mortal enemies." K. Perkins

            Comment


            • #7
              Our meeting last night was very productive and generated a lot of discussion and ideas to bring to the Board meeting next Tuesday. Thanks to all who attended. If anyone has any questions or comments they'd like us to incorporate into our documents, feel free to email me at tincupeventing@gmail.com.

              Thanks!

              Lesli
              Volunteer Coordinator, Equiventures, LLC
              and the Sunshine State, Little Everglades,
              & Live Oak Combined Driving Events
              tincupeventing@gmail.com

              Comment


              • #8
                How about a summary, OneStar? I was all fired up to go, but had daddy problems.
                Sportponies Unlimited
                Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Wynn,

                  Basically, we want the Board of Directors to know that the Florida equestrian community understands the economic crisis that has hit everyone so hard and has caused some tough decisions to be made to keep the Park from going under. But before any more drastic budget cuts and scheduling decisions are made, we as a community want to be part of the process that decides what happens in the future. The Horse Park belongs to all of us, and as stakeholders in its future we deserve to have our voices heard. The Florida Agriculture Center and Horse Park Authority was created and incorporated within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services "To develop an international equine competition facility that encompasses all breeds, disciplines, and other related or corresponding purposes and distribution of its funds for such purposes; to advance agricultural and equine education as directed by Chapter 570 of the Florida Statutes and other applicable Florida Law; and to provide the state and community a recreation facility that hosts outside, equestrian, and non-equestrian events, giving preference to equine and agriculture-related events; and to operate exclusively in any other manner for such charitable and educational purposes as will qualify the corporation as an exempt organization under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code..."

                  Consequently, those of us who have an interest in the Florida Horse Park would like to be given the opportunity to help in whatever way necessary to ensure that events continue to run at the Horse Park in order to fulfill this stated mission statement, and work with the Horse Park Board and Executive Director to make decisions that consider the very people and activities the Horse Park was created to serve -- the citizens of the state and community.

                  So, that's it in a nutshell. We are concerned that decisions may be made that the community might not agree with, and the community wants to ask the Horse Park Directors to include us in the decision-making process.
                  Volunteer Coordinator, Equiventures, LLC
                  and the Sunshine State, Little Everglades,
                  & Live Oak Combined Driving Events
                  tincupeventing@gmail.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just a reminder that the Florida Horse Park Board of Directors meeting, open to the public, is tomorrow night at 5 pm at the Holiday Inn Ocala, State Road 200, behind the Cracker Barrel near I-75.

                    Please be sure to attend and show your support for the Florida Horse Park and a continuing calendar of events and activities for all horse people and citizens of the community and the state.

                    Thanks!
                    Volunteer Coordinator, Equiventures, LLC
                    and the Sunshine State, Little Everglades,
                    & Live Oak Combined Driving Events
                    tincupeventing@gmail.com

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      any thought to opening up the park for public schooling like rocking horse does for a to bring in some $$?

                      I mean, if you think four people over a weekend in the course of the year schooling at $50, even if you eliminate 12 weekends out of that year, that is like $8000.

                      I know that is a drop in the bucket, but it might bring more light on to the park and help bring interest back!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I hate to hear this happened to Shelley.

                        The Florida horse park has been a welcome addition to the eventing and dressage north florida calenders, easy for those of us in the southeast to access during the winter months, and adding a venue for the crowds that go to florida for the winter.

                        The budget crunch is hurting so many horsey things.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Looking forward to a report from anyone who attended the meeting this evening....
                          L

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One Star taped the whole meeting so I am sure she will be putting up a full report very soon.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TSHEventing View Post
                              any thought to opening up the park for public schooling like rocking horse does for a to bring in some $$?

                              I mean, if you think four people over a weekend in the course of the year schooling at $50, even if you eliminate 12 weekends out of that year, that is like $8000.

                              I know that is a drop in the bucket, but it might bring more light on to the park and help bring interest back!
                              I asked them about that at one of the other schooling days that they had, and they said it was too expensive to pay for the staffing. I don't know if the state makes them do it or what, but she told me that they have to have a full compliment of people on the jump course, plus paramedics and an ambulance on site for the entire time. So that's why they only had schooling days on certain days.
                              She did say if you had a large enough group or groups and made arrangements in advance the facility could be made available.

                              I think they need to open it to more varied disciplines to a) get more exposure for it, and
                              b) get a wider group to "care" about it. If more people have the opportunity to use it and share then more people have a vested interest in keeping it open. I know as hard as it is to get horse facilities like that, it shouldn't be that way and we should all support each other but we all know it isn't really like that.
                              As it is now, I know lots of horse people that have the attitude that the facility isn't for "everybody" so why should "everybody" care about it?
                              "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Hi All!

                                I just wanted to send out a quick thank you to everyone who attended last night's Board Meeting, as well as to everyone who couldn't be there in body but was certainly there in spirit. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for turning out in droves to show your support for the Florida Horse Park and its continuing schedule of events and activities.

                                The record turnout of guests certainly stunned the Board of Directors, and showed them that the community that supports the Horse Park and wants to have direct involvement in its future success is huge, talented, and deserving to be heard. You all make me proud to be part of the equestrian community of Ocala, Marion County, and beyond. On a personal note, thank you to those who spoke up to show support for me as Volunteer Coordinator and the efforts I have made in support of the Park over the years. I am grateful for your friendship and respect.

                                Let's hope that this serves as a call to action for the Board members and the Executive Director to tap into the vast resource that is our community. I would urge every one of you to make sure that if you are not contacted within a week by Horse Park staff or some other designated individual to take part in committee work or asked to lend your energies and expertise in some way, that you embark on an email campaign to ensure that we as a community stay in the forefront of the Board's collective minds, and on their agendas. It is our responsibility as concerned members of the community to keep this issue from getting shoved to the back burner.

                                If you need any email addresses in order to contact Board Members or other community members, I would be happy to supply them. My email database is vast and extensive.

                                Remember, you are also entitled to have access to any of the documents mentioned in tonight's meeting. If you would like to see the budget that the Board members were reviewing, or the IDEO Vision Proposal and Site Plan, or the plans created by the architect Todd Gralla and Associates, you need only email cjmarcello@flhorsepark.com or execdir@flhorsepark.com and request access. It is your right as a member of the public which the Florida Horse Park was chartered to serve. And if you have any difficulties in gaining access to any of these documents, be sure to notify Richard Gunnels in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the agency that oversees the Florida Horse Park and the statues under which the Horse Park was created. His email is gunnelr@doacs.state.fl.us.

                                Once again, thanks to all. I believe tonight was a very good night and the start of great work from all of us.

                                Best regards,

                                Lesli



                                Lesli Cohen

                                tincupeventing@gmail.com

                                508-826-6657 mobile
                                Volunteer Coordinator, Equiventures, LLC
                                and the Sunshine State, Little Everglades,
                                & Live Oak Combined Driving Events
                                tincupeventing@gmail.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I have made an MP3 file of last night's audio recording of the meeting. It is a rather large file, running 2 hours and 15 minutes, and is 186MB is file size. I have posted it on a web-based file-sharing service so anyone can access it.

                                  The link is: http://drop.io/6kxr6mf#

                                  Here is a link to a PDF of the agenda to last night's meeting: http://drop.io/83d4orx#

                                  Here is a list of the Board Members in attendance:

                                  Connie Duff Wise, Chair
                                  Cecile Dunn, 1st Vice-Chair
                                  Craig Bachrodt, 2nd Vice Chair
                                  Chester Weber, Secretary
                                  Damian Guthrie, Treasurer
                                  Randy Samko, Director
                                  Karen O'Connor, Director
                                  Tim Petty, Director
                                  Dick Hancock, Director
                                  Ed McNamara, Director
                                  Jo Anne Doke Smith, Director
                                  Jena Brooks, Director
                                  Dr. Charles Dassance, Director
                                  Darren Chiacchia (by phone), Director
                                  Susan Gilliland, Director
                                  Carol Dover, Director
                                  Chris Machen, Director

                                  C.J. Marcello, Executive Director
                                  Margaret Rowell, Director of Development


                                  If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

                                  Thanks,

                                  Lesli
                                  Volunteer Coordinator, Equiventures, LLC
                                  and the Sunshine State, Little Everglades,
                                  & Live Oak Combined Driving Events
                                  tincupeventing@gmail.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Lesli, have you looked through those documents? I find myself really, really wanting to see exactly how that $1.2 million dollar debt came about.

                                    No offense to anyone intended, but I'm a little shocked by that--not in and of itself, but because what the park really, really lacks are appropriate facilities to do what this poster indicated:

                                    I think they need to open it to more varied disciplines to a) get more exposure for it, and b) get a wider group to "care" about it. If more people have the opportunity to use it and share then more people have a vested interest in keeping it open.
                                    So I can't understand how such debt was racked up without building...oh, say, a covered arena and maybe training track (and/or welcome "hut" or "house" or whatever). I think it could be argued (or just discussed, like here) that that is one of the biggest problems the park faces. Unlike the Ocala Equestrian Center (if that's what it's called--over on 60th) and the Livestock Pavillion, the park can't attract any kind of activity that can't handle rain...and even when it isn't raining, it's mighty uncomfortable without shade. An h-j friend of mine pointed that out, in fact: apparently many H-J'ers don't like the park because it's so barren, basically.

                                    Of course, I assume that one can kiss goodbye any hope whatsoever of building anything any time soon with a debt like that. Poor Park. Even if we could get the word out about it and promote the heck out of what it can offer, the financial situation is still pretty disencouraging--unless something like that great idea to tack on the $5 fee to Coggins Tests gets passed.
                                    Sportponies Unlimited
                                    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Pwynn,

                                      pm me

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        This is an email that was sent out about the Schooling Three-Phase Series at the Florida Horse Park.

                                        Please contact Damian Guthrie at eventscommittee@flhorsepark.com or Margaret Rowell at Development@flhorsepark.com or margaret@flhorsepark.com if you'd like to get a copy of the survey.

                                        Dear Eventing Enthusiast,

                                        As the newly appointed Events Committee Chair, I am charged with making recommendations concerning which shows we should run on which dates. As you can probably imagine, this can be a very daunting task, so I am asking for your help. The Park currently has several 3-Phase Shows scheduled over the summer. At these shows, riders can ride one phase or a combination of the 3-Phases: show jumping, dressage and cross country. In order to ensure that these events are successful, I need to know how many entries we can expect on each of the dates.

                                        To that end, the Park has created a 4 question survey asking about your attendance at these upcoming events. This information will help the Park make informed decisions about which shows to run. Please respond to this survey by Tuesday, May 26th, 2009.

                                        If you have any questions about the shows or the Park, please contact our Executive Director, C.J. Marcello at execdir@flhorsepark.com. Thank you in advance for your help with this matter. I look forward to seeing you at the Park soon.

                                        Sincerely,

                                        Damian Guthrie
                                        Florida Horse Park Board Member
                                        Events Committee Chair



                                        I'd really appreciate it if everyone would take the time to email Damian or Margaret and ask to take the survey. We need all the input we can get to keep these shows on the calendar of events.

                                        Lesli
                                        Volunteer Coordinator, Equiventures, LLC
                                        and the Sunshine State, Little Everglades,
                                        & Live Oak Combined Driving Events
                                        tincupeventing@gmail.com

                                        Comment

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