Effort to build East County equine center carries on

The park’s fundraising goal is $150,000. So far donations have reached slightly more than $92,000.

The last standing original member of the East County Equestrian Foundation, Julie Murphy resigned after eight years of helping to build the Lakeside Equestrian Park. During her time on the board, Murphy wore many hats – president, vice president, treasurer and a little of everything in between. Although Murphy said she could no longer speak on behalf of the foundation, she can talk about the park, and the eight-year process that is now up for bid for the building of the facility.

Murphy resigned so she can move closer to her family. She said she will continue to keep track of the new equestrian center.

And 2020 is expected to be the year the facility finally breaks ground.

Murphy said it has been an up and down process over the past eight years with the original cost estimated at $4.5 million. By the time the project went to bidding, the final estimated cost jumped to $15.5 million.

Murphy said there was much opposition to the park, but it was due to people misunderstanding the project. Most people thought is was nothing more than a boarding facility, but she said that the park will never board horses on a permanent basis, only when necessary for events.

Murphy said Supervisor Dianne Jacob is the one who set the record straight and was key in getting the Board of Supervisors’ approval for the project to move forward.

“Jacob went to the Board of Supervisors and got the $14.5 million needed to finish the project,” she said. “I am so thankful. I was worried if we did not get the money it would just sit in limbo like a lot of projects. We really have to thank Jacob for wanting this project to go through. Jacob and the entire board should get big kudos for stepping up and getting this park built.”

Murphy said the park has been promised and all subcontractors are onboard. The ECEF is waiting for an accepted bid approved by the county.

“This on-of-a-kind center will not only be great for horse lovers and provide a boost to our economy, but it will also become the pride of Lakeside,” said Jacob. “The community holds its cowboy roots dear and there is no better spot for an attraction like this.”

Murphy said there is so much potential for the park and it has a diverse board with a lot of great ideas. She said for her, focusing on the young is a big priority.

“Myself, I would like to see getting youths involved in equestrian activities,” she said. “If not, we are not going to have equestrian activities in the future.”

Murphy added that it has become so costly for the 4-H program to rent facilities, the program has dropped dramatically.

“As a kid, that is how I got started, being part of 4-H. I’d like to see the 4-H program revived, and this facility is made available for these youths,” she said.

Murphy said the facility can be utilized for horse shows, competitions, dog shows, a farmer’s market and more.

“The hall is as large as the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds hall with a full kitchen,” she said. “So, it can have weddings, meetings and events. Any way you want to go, it can be done in the dirt or in the hall, the facility can handle it.”

Murphy said she has poured her heart into this project or she would not have stuck with it for eight years and only wants to see the park built, grow and succeed.

To find out more about the park and the foundation, its current campaigns in raising money visit www.lakesideequestrianpark.com.

Effort to build East County equine center carries on

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