LETTER- Horse controversy in new park cleared up?
I would like to correct an allegation made by someone interviewed for the article on the Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park, "Gift horse: Park plans recall 1930s ouster," that I am "working a deal for private access to run a horse-riding operation" in the park.
In recent weeks, this same allegation of my intended "commercialization" of the park was also made to the Planning Commission during a public hearing, and the next day to a senior county planner. This allegation is false.
Mr. Pat Mullaney, director of parks and recreation, can confirm I have never expressed any interest in commercial trail riding during three years of working closely on park entrance options. The horse operation I am developing on land adjacent to the park entrance, Cottonwood Cow Horses LLC, was incorporated in October 2003 after a year of preparatory work– long before my Dad's gift in April 2004 of 600 acres to establish the park. As planned, Cottonwood Cow Horses will board and train horses with an emphasis on natural horsemanship in ranch horse disciplines and will host events in those disciplines.
I have worked intently to ensure the park will include horse riding, which was one of the original intended uses. After VDOT ruled out any entrance at the park's northern boundary, a southern entrance was proposed. When VDOT ruled out any southern entrance designs that would accept horse trailers– allowing limited car parking and no future growth in park facilities, I offered to sell acreage to access the center of the park.
As opposed to either the north or south entrance options, which would have carved out an acre or less at the bottom of mountain ridges, the center entrance provides 15 acres of flat or gradually rising terrain with beautiful views of the park and opposing Fox Mountain. The center entrance will also provide for a new short loop trail for families with young children and others who are not able to hike, bike, or ride horses up the steep mountain slopes that cover most of the park.