AMERICAN FORK — The American Fork Riding Club has reached a temporary agreement with the city as to where it will be able to keep its horses after being forced to leave a longtime location because of a new pressurized irrigation pond.

The City Council approved a two-year deal involving the city's racetrack, where 20 stalls will be built, then leased to members of the club just down the hill from where the pond will be built.

"The city will initially purchase the stalls, and the club can buy them back as they desire," said Mayor Heber Thompson. "Those that they don't buy back, we will sell. I'm told there is a very good market for these kinds of stalls."

The stalls will be available for members of the club, but the total number is only half of the old facility, which housed 40. Many of the owners have already relocated their horses to new stalls, but the ones still remaining appear to be happy with the agreement.

"It (is) a step in the right direction," club treasurer Chris Mitchell said of the agreement. "We are pleased."

The agreement was made after months of negotiations between the city and the club. It will also require that the two waive any past disputes against each other, and that Fox Hills Golf Course approves of the stalls being constructed in that area. The golf course and racetrack area could overlap, and city staff wants to ensure that the riding club not interfere on course property.

Councilman Shirl LeBaron was not completely satisfied with the solution of putting the club in that area, and made a point of expressing that to the group and the other two council members present at the meeting.

"I don't think this is the best solution," he said. "I don't think it is the best use of the property, but I am not going to be the one to say no and have to wait another two weeks for fellow council members to be here."

After the meeting, he clarified why he didn't think the location was the best option.

"I don't think horses and golf mix," LeBaron said. "I think there were other options we could have looked at, but I think the agreement is fine, limited to two years."

After two years, the agreement would be terminated, or the council could choose to renew the agreement. In the meantime, the city recreation department will monitor use of the racetrack and several events the riding club plans to hold, in order to see how much citizen involvement is taking place in the area.

"Two years may be all they need to get a more permanent location that fits their needs better," the mayor said.


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