Group plans to restore Gunnison horse arena

GUNNISON—City leaders gave a group the green light to restore the Gunnison horse arena with the hopes of eventually starting a riding club.

On Wednesday, April 7, Scott and Heather Hansen appeared in front of Gunnison Mayor Lori Nay and the city council to volunteer to get the horse arena cleaned up and ready for use. The Hansens had previously been participating in riding clubs in other areas, but since moving to the Gunnison Valley, they have wanted to get something local going.

“There are a few of us who have been talking and we want to start out own riding club here,” Scott Hansen said. “We’ve been going to other clubs, but it’s getting too far. We could help form a committee and breathe some life back into it.”

Robert Stevens // Gazette Photo
The Gunnison City equine facility is in disrepair and covered in weeds, but volunteers who want to start a riding club based out of the arena told city officials they would help get the facility back in shape for regular use.

He told the council that last year he visited the arena, only to find it overrun with weeds. He put in a call to the city and was put in touch with Councilman Sean Crane, who promptly arranged for a crew to work on some of the weed problems.

“We really appreciated that,” Hansen said. “That’s when the wheels started spinning for us. There are so many people around here that ride, I feel like if that place had a little more life and maintenance in it, it could be great. There are a few of us willing to put in that time and effort.”

Hansen asked the council if anyone had proposed any ideas for the arena, or had any plans for it. Councilman Rod Taylor replied that once a committee was involved in the steering of the arena and what happened there, and a riding club called the Gunnison Valley Horse Riding Club had once operated there as well, but in both cases, members of the committee and club had died over the years and interest and participation had waned until they ultimately dissolved.

“I would love to see a committee for it again,” Nay told Hansen. “It’s a great public asset and I would love to see the support grow for it.”

Hansen asked if there was any sort of maintenance budget for the arena. Councilman Robert Anderson said it was possible to use some of the recreational budget for modest renovations or upkeep.

According to Hansen, the main problem with the arena is currently the sheer amount of weeds on site that make it mostly unusable. He said he had an idea to potentially get volunteer workers to remove the weeds by offering community service hours to people on probation, since he is a probation officer.

“I would have to check with the county to see if that is an option,” Hansen told the council. “If it’s not, well I guess I would just marshal the troops and come out and do it ourselves.”

He added, “I wish I had a tractor to make it easier, but I don’t.”

According to Hansen, one of the riding clubs he and his wife had been involved in, the Hobble Creek Riding Club, had been associated with an arena like the one in Gunnison, and had been mostly responsible for its upkeep. Every year, the club would put on a rodeo and the proceeds from it would go towards the maintenance of the facility. Hansen told the council that would be more of a long term goal, and there was plenty of work to be done on the place before it would be at that point, but he thought it was a good plan to keep the arena looking good.

“I think that’d be great,” said Crane, who is the councilman over the arena facility. “The more activity we can get up there the better. If we have a group that is willing to take the lead on it, I would be happy to help in any way I can.”

The council agreed to move forward with allowing Hansen to work with Crane and the city to make a plan on how to get the arena in ship shape. They thanked Hansen and his wife for their interest in making the arena a better public asset. “I grew up here and disappeared for a while, but now I’m back and you’re stuck with us,” Hansen told the council.