MARINA — After a lengthy discussion last week, the Marina City Council will vote Wednesday on the future of the city’s equestrian center.
The City Council met Aug. 31 to discuss the Marina Equestrian Center Park and the agenda item was continued after the meeting was extended and had gone on for more than five hours. City staff recommends the council approve Chaparral Country Corporation Inc. of Woodside to provide recreational facilities and programs to the public at Marina Equestrian Center Park and direct staff to negotiate terms of a concession agreement with the corporation.
The city contracted with a consulting firm, Management Partners, to create a request for proposals. The firm conducted an initial review of the proposals and recommended city staff interview all three organizations. The current operators, Marina Equestrian Association, submitted a proposal as well as Fort Ord Equine Foundation and Chaparral Country Corporation Inc. and were interviewed by city staff in February.
City staff found Chaparral Country Corporation as the most qualified concessionaire based upon the evaluation criteria stated in the request. The staff looked at the proposals based on the proposer’s background and experience, how much rent would come into the city, the proposer’s concept plan and service and its maintenance program as well as the proposer’s cash flow analysis and pro forma.
Chaparral Country Corporation has been serving California since 2009 and provides horse trail rides and horse riding lessons in Milpitas, Woodside and San Francisco.
According to city documents, the fixed term of the operating agreement with the Marina Equestrian Association ended on Jan. 31, 2005. Since that time, the tenancy has continued as a month-to-month holdover tenancy. The equestrian association has been the tenant of the Marina Equestrian Center for about two decades. Last year, the River, Carmel and Dolan fires in Monterey County forced people to evacuate their horses from stables nearby the blazes to the equestrian center.
At the start of last week’s meeting, City Manager Layne Long explained the Marina Equestrian Association uses about 13 acres of the 35-acre parcel. The federal government deeded the Fort Ord land to the city of Marina at no cost in 1998 under the National Park Service’s Federal Lands to Parks Program.
“We made a pledge that we’d use that strictly for public park and recreation purposes and there is no authorization to use it for private purposes,” Long said during the meeting. “The private boarding that has occurred over the years has been in violation of the terms of the land conveyance and the city really is at risk of reversion of this property back to noncompliance.”
The National Park Service has to approve any concessionaire agreement as well as how the equestrian center is used. In 2017, the National Park Service stated any boarding of horses at the Marina Equestrian Center should be structured as a public use that does not establish a long-term right of exclusive occupancy.
“I think that whatever term of boarding is decided upon by the city as the maximum duration that that is allowed would need to be based upon a public park and recreation area use that is equitable and available to all of the general public,” said David Siegenthaler of the National Park Service during the meeting last week.
Siegenthaler said the issue of public use being limited by long-term private boarding first came up in 2007 during a visit to the center.
“We have seen very long-term boarding practices and we have seen an attitude of exclusivity on the part of the people who have boarded long term at that site,” he said.
After discussion from the City Council and a presentation from Chaparral Country Corporation, the meeting opened up to public comment. Before the planned vote, the City Council will hear more public comments, let the applicants respond to comments and discuss the proposal. The meeting, which starts its open session segment at 6:30 p.m., can be streamed at https://zoom.us/j/730251556.
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