Port Townsend equestrian park now in limited use; awaiting permits
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Jefferson Equestrian Association board member Kim McGuire, left, and Jefferson Parks and Recreation board member Mike McFadden inspect one of the trails in the new equestrian park at a ceremony Wednesday. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — An 80-acre equestrian park envisioned at least five years ago is in limited use but won’t reach its full potential until the county grants conditional-use permits, organizers said.

Members of the Jefferson Equestrian Association — which is organizing the park that will be open to bikers and joggers as well as horse riders — Jefferson County government and the Parks and Recreation Board toured the land at 1172 Cape George Road on Wednesday, hearing of plans for construction trails and equestrian arenas.

No completion date or cost estimate is available.

“We are waiting to hear from the county about our permit application and how much it will cost,” said Kim Hunt, equestrian association president.

“Once that takes place, we can start having fundraisers and events to move things ahead.”

The permits for the park were more elaborate when they were first submitted in 2008 but have been scaled back considerably because of economic conditions, said Associate Planner Zoe Ann Lamp with the county Department of Community Development.

Lamp had not reviewed the revised permit as of Wednesday.

She said it would be addressed sometime this year, although perhaps not in time for summer use.

In the meantime, the property has a large parking area where equestrians can park their trailers and ride through the property free of charge.

This will continue after the park is finished, Hunt said. The only charges will be for participation in events and use of horse-specific facilities such as the arenas.

Those using these facilities will need to purchase a membership, the cost of which won’t be determined until the cost of the permits are known, Hunt said.

A fundraiser March 1 at the American Legion Hall brought in $3,000 that will go to the club, she said.

Plans are to construct two 200-foot square outdoor arenas and an indoor arena measuring 80 feet by 200 feet.

Once the permits are approved and funds raised, the arenas could be constructed in a matter of months, according to Kim McGuire, equestrian association member.

Hunt said no such equestrian facility exists in the region and that the park could attract people from throughout Western Washington.

“There are no other parks around here that have this kind of range and size,” she said. “The closest one is in Cle Elum.

“People travel for equestrian events, and when they get here, they will spend money at our hotels and restaurants.”

The park will have “dry camping” for those participating in the events but will not offer boarding for horses since it’s a county park and will not be staffed after dark, McGuire said.

“We won’t offer boarding, but there are several places in the county where it’s available, and some private farms will also board,” she said.

The park will be used by hikers and bikers since it connects with the Larry Scott Trail.

“This could be a regional draw,” said Jefferson County Commissioner David Sullivan on Wednesday.

“It can be used in extended seasons depending on the weather and can connect with other events that are happening in the county.”

Sullivan said he wasn’t aware of the permit’s specifics and was not likely to get involved in the process unless requested to do so.

“There are a lot of permits being requested right now, and we don’t want to move any individual to the head of the line,” he said.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 12. 2014 7:22PM
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