The Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks is seeking to transform run-down public horse stables near Hansen Dam into a modern equestrian center with show rings, a clubhouse and more boarding facilities.
The revamped center would provide horse-riding groups with training rings and a small center for local shows, city officials said. It would eliminate the existing center, which some neighbors describe as an eyesore.
“The place is a wreck as it stands right now, and the buildings are beyond repair,” said Thomas Petrique, administrative assistant for the city parks department.
The stable area and adjacent Orcas Park are at 11127 Orcas Ave., Lake View Terrace, in the Hansen Dam Flood Control Basin. About 30 horses are boarded in aging, covered stalls. A small red shack serves as a snack bar and office, and there are two riding rings on the 18-acre site. There have been no significant improvements for 10 years, city officials said.
Under the city plans for the site, the existing facilities would be expanded to make room for a new stable, three show rings and a clubhouse. Plans also call for riding instruction.
The improvements would be financed solely by the concessionaire who wins a long-term contract with the city to upgrade and run the equestrian center.
Aside from the more fashionable Griffith Park Equestrian Center, also under the jurisdiction of the parks department, the Hansen Dam site is the only public equestrian facility in the city, Petrique said.
“Griffith Park has the aura of being an affluent center,” said Dennis Schneider, president of the East Valley Horse Owners Assn. “But out here, we definitely see there is a need for facilities for the everyday horseman. And this part of the city is the No. 1 location for the everyday horseman.”
The Hansen Dam Equestrian Center land, owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, is leased by the parks department, which in turn contracts with a private concessionaire to operate and maintain it.
For the last month the city has been soliciting proposals from private developers to refurbish the center and has received about 40 inquiries, Petrique said. About five proposals are expected by the Nov. 5 deadline, said John Ward, assistant general manager of the parks department.
The new center could be completed in about a year, Petrique said.
The renovation would cost $350,00 to $500,000, officials said. The department intends to let a contract for up to 20 years so that the concessionaire would have sufficient time to recoup his costs. Besides the cost of the improvements, the concessionaire would pay 10% of its gross income as rent.
The current concessionaire, Charles Walls of Burbank, has run the facility for 14 years. Petrique said Walls was originally given a 12-year contract in 1970. Since it expired in 1982, Walls has been operating on a monthly contract while the city bureaucracy and the Corps of Engineers reviews the planned renovations.
Walls, who intends to submit a bid to continue operating the center, said he has been unwilling so far to invest money to improve the center for lack of a long-term agreement.
“If you don’t know you are going to be here tomorrow, you’re not going to invest money today,” Walls said. He declined to disclose what his profit was last year but said it was “very small.” He said he was unsure whether the capital investment that the city is seeking is feasible.
The center grossed $161,488 in 1984 and $143,728 the year before, according to a city report.
Neighbors of the center and several leaders from horse-riding groups in the Valley said they have been asking the parks department for years to improve the site.
If improvements were made and services were expanded, they said, many local groups, which now travel as far as West Covina to find show sites, would be more willing to stay near home.
“It’s not the most desirable place to have a show, but it’s all we have here,” said Billie Crowe, a nearby resident and horse owner. “It’s an eyesore to the neighborhood. If that place is improved we could have shows and seminars for youth. It could turn into a real community center.”