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October 20, 2011 8:19 am

Cody equestrian center pitched

Written by CJ Baker

A proposed Cody equestrian center found support last week with a group of around 50 people involved with horse and youth activities.

The complex was pitched by organizers as a multi-use facility that could accommodate a wide range of indoor activities — from open horse riding and barrel racing to soccer and archery to boat shows and cattle sales — to bolster Cody’s winter economy and support local youth.

“There are so many things it can be used for,” said Tony Scheiber, a Cody veterinarian and Cody Stampede Board member who’s helping lead the effort for the facility. However, he also stressed that it would not be a convention center.

“Convention center is not part of us,” Scheiber said.

The idea is to pay for the facility and as-of-yet-undetermined Powell and Meeteetse projects with a county-wide capital facilities tax. Doing so would need the approval of county voters, likely in November 2012.

Attendees at the Thursday meeting at the Cody Auditorium were given four-page color brochures outlining one vision for the center. Scheiber said the Cody Stampede Board produced the materials for a “Stampede Park Indoor Arena,” about a year ago.

If a temporary 1-cent cap tax were to fund an equestrian center, Scheiber said a joint powers board likely would be created to oversee the facility, with county, Cody and Stampede Board officials appointing representatives to the joint board.

The building envisioned in the brochure would be 425 feet long by 150 feet wide, with pens and rooms built around a 1,500 seat arena with a dirt floor. A separate unheated building would hold horse stall. But the proposal was just a starting point. At Thursday’s meeting, Scheiber and others took input from a generally enthusiastic audience on just how big a facility should be, what uses it should accommodate and how it can appeal to non-horse people.

Scheiber said it was important not to overbuild the center by copying those in bigger cities.

“We’re not Billings or Casper or Nampa (Idaho), we’re Cody,” he said.

One of the cited Cody-specific issues for the center is hosting winter events, like team roping or rodeo, that can bring visitors to the city’s restaurants, hotels and other businesses in the tourism off-season.

Rental fees would need to cover operations and maintenance for the facility, Scheiber said, but youth programs like 4-H, FFA, college rodeo and high school sports would be allowed free access and have precedence.

The envisioned location is just east of the Cody Stampede grounds, on the city’s west strip.

Cody Enterprise publisher and center proponent Bruce McCormack told meeting attendees that the $13.2 million sum used in Park County’s 2006 capital facilities tax was very readily accepted by the public, and he suggested that number be used again.

This time, McCormack says, Cody and Powell should swap figures, with Cody getting $9 million for the equestrian center/its operations endowment and Powell getting $2.2 million. Meeteetse would again get $2 million.

McCormack suggested that a smaller committee of people interested in the equestrian center should spend the next six months honing a specific proposal — planning and coming up with a specific design and uses for the facility. The six months after that — from the spring until the November 2012 general election — would be spent rolling out the plan to the public and campaigning for it.

McCormack said the equestrian center group must find partners in Powell and Meeteetse and form a Three Musketeers-like “all for one and one for all” campaign for the tax.

Powell Mayor Scott Mangold, meanwhile, said he was planning to hold a meeting with Cody and county officials this week on a different 1-cent pitch. Mangold wants to put together a proposal for an ongoing 1-cent tax that could be spent on upgrading Park County infrastructure, such as improving roads and paying for county landfills.

That proposal will only be put to the public if all four local governments (Powell, Cody, Meeteetse and Park County) are on board, Mangold said.

7 comments

  • Comment Link October 20, 2011 4:18 pm posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    Here we go again...more tax & spend BS from a few in Cody who want a pork barrel project and expect the rest of us to pay for it.When will this RINO tax & spend BS stop???????? You people who WANT,moan about Liberals being the tax & spend party...well I call hypocrisy on this fiasco,even though a RINO thinks he or she is above the rest of us taxpayers.Keep it up..and watch the herd running to Billings grow larger.

  • Comment Link October 21, 2011 7:55 am posted by Salty Dawg

    "A proposed Cody equestrian center found support last week with a group of around 50 people involved with horse and youth activities." Then those 50 people who want this fiasco can pay for it,the rest of us taxpayers have been bled for enough money to fund money losing projects in this area.

  • Comment Link October 21, 2011 2:09 pm posted by someonewhocares

    How dare we help support youth programs that will keep them out of trouble. I mean the meth problem in Wyoming is ridiculously bad anyways....but give the kids an alternative....ya...no thanks! Really???

  • Comment Link October 23, 2011 1:16 pm posted by TB

    TAX & SPEND...is that all you people know in Park County anymore? Sounds like bunch of Liberals.

  • Comment Link October 24, 2011 8:15 pm posted by not an idiot

    I would support a cap tax, or a special 1% tax, if it would go towards infrastructure improvements across the county. We do not need an equestrian facility at this time but we could use improvements on such things such as landfills, roads and streets, sewers, hi effieciency lighting, bridges, etc. I think a lot of people across the county would support something along these lines.

  • Comment Link October 25, 2011 9:00 am posted by Dewey

    24,000 residents of Park County did NOT attend this meeting...

    So much for the broad support base.

  • Comment Link October 26, 2011 8:14 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    Agreed Dewey,yet the editor of the Cody paper will not allow comments on it,since the editor is a strong supporeter of this fiasco.Republicans constantly moan about raising taxes in a bad economy...yet that is the very thing these RINO's want to do.

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