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Waxhaw annexation makes way for equestrian center

11 October 2013

Ciera Choate, Union County Weekly

Leaders in Waxhaw recently annexed in about 34 acres of land they hope will benefit local businesses and residents in the community for years to come.

Board members plan for the property along Waxhaw-Marvin Road to eventually become an equestrian facility that will host competitions, shows and more. With the addition, Mayor Pro Tem Erin Kirkpatrick hopes to bring not only residents out into the community, but more visitors into Waxhaw to spend money in the local economy.

“The hope is that we can have some equine show components on the parcel, so some show rings and things like that that would bring in different horse competitions and shows throughout the year,” Kirkpatrick said.

And according to some statistics, bringing in non-residents won’t be much of a challenge with a facility of this type. Nearly 80 percent of people who attend horse shows of any kind are non-residents to the area, and with every show horse comes about three people, according to Kirkpatrick.

The town must complete a study specifically tailored to a property that could become an equestrian facility before moving forward with any plans. Town leaders recently put aside $25,000 for the study, but it could cost more. If the study gives the go-ahead for the facility to be constructed, the town will have to hire an architect with an equestrian focus to construct it.

The board hopes to bring more than just visitors to the facility. Town leaders also want to attract business owners who cater to the equestrian field.

The town recently created the equine advisory board to help those efforts and pull together information for Kirkpatrick to present to other town leaders before putting the project out to bid. This seven-member board is constructed of experts in the equestrian field familiar with a project of this nature.

“(The committee is putting together information) so I can take (the information) to the board and show them the type of return for the venue,” Kirkpatrick said. “… Basically presenting all of that to the board, and I would at the same time be asking for the RFQ.”

If the park is constructed, it could bring a lot of money to the local economy. According to the American Horse Council in Washington, D.C., facilities such as these bring in $150 per person per day attending, with each person staying for an average of three days.

For Kirkpatrick and other local leaders, it’s also important to maintain the rural feel of the community while also bringing more jobs and tourism into the area.

“It’s an industry we already have, and it’s appropriate for preserving our rural areas and our heritage,” Kirkpatrick said.

About 50 percent of land at an equestrian park is used for pastures or producing hay, corn oats and more, according to North Carolina State University Animal Science Department. Through recent surveys in the town, residents have pushed for the preservation of open space – something the town hopes this new park will do in a beneficial way.

Regardless of numbers, economic benefits and open space, Kirkpatrick said she knows many Waxhaw residents who are invested in the equine community are excited for the new addition and can’t wait to get the ball rolling.

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