A horse park for Fayette County? At public expense? Please explain

For the second week in a row I am compelled to express an opinion as to what I view as absurdities of decisions and considerations by the Fayette County Commission that will affect our pocketbooks and the appeal of Fayette County.

Two weeks ago, I asked for explanations regarding the $130,000 “gift” to the Peachtree City Water And Sewerage Authority by our Board of Commissioners to install a sewer line at the animal shelter. Why was it necessary? How was it cost effective? Our commissioners, always so eager to get their names in front of the public, have curiously failed to come forward with comment.

This week, The Citizen informed us that our Fayette County Commission and the Fayette County School System may “collaborate” on a horse park behind Inman Elementary School. The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Rousseau opposed.

Details included initial funding of $25,000 for the “initial phase.” The reader also learns that long-term possibilities include additional parking spaces for 10 horse trailers, a possible structure and bringing trails “up to standard.”

I am sure I am not the only Fayette County resident and taxpayer who fails to see the reward of such a project of such limited need and interest. How many local residents keep horses at home and require government supported trails for their riding activities? And, of this constituency, how many have horse trailers to transport their equine companions? To be sure, we have many nice stables in our area, but all that I can count are essentially “show stables” for hunters and jumpers, not casual western style trail riding facilities.

Why would our commissioners consider this expense for so few? Even our dog park is often empty and certainly there are more dog households in Fayette County than horse families. Will the horse park be self-supporting with a membership and/or pay as you use? If so, will an attendant be on site to collect fees?

And, not to sound indelicate, who will provide “poop patrol” for the park and trails? How and where will the manure be moved, stored and disposed of? As a former show barn owner, I can tell you that horses produce a lot a poo. The poo produces odor and attracts flies and provides them a fabulous breeding environment. There is also an environmental impact. Rain produces runoff, and in manure piles, the runoff is not pleasant.

Is this appropriate for an area adjacent to Inman Elementary School? And, while we are on the topic, what accommodations will be provided for the humans? They need to “go” too. Will a septic be installed or will another sewer connection be required? All this costs money and I would prefer not to pay for it.

Back to finances, owning horses is not a casual, inexpensive interest. Owners need to have quite a bit of disposable income if their animals are to be cared for properly. Not to mention all the tack, gear and riding clothes necessary and a truck and trailer if they require transport to a riding trail. You can probably recognize that I am a “horse person,” but the sketchy ideas presented seem to suggest an advantage for a very, very few and a disadvantage to everyone else.

Next, how does the Fayette County School System factor in? Do they own the land or is this simply a permission driven conversation? If school district owned, perhaps the sale of the land to a third party would be in everyone’s best interest. Who, aside from developers, are opposed to open space?

In the last five years, even with my “senior discount” I have “contributed” over $18,000 to the Fayette County School System through property taxes. Note, this is NOT my total tax bill, just the amounts paid to the school district.

While I fully support our community, our schools and public services, I am opposed to wasteful spending that benefits what I perceive to be a limited few.

Joan Ryan
Fayetteville, Ga.