Waivers and Lesson Student Package
It seems like forever that we have been chasing the indoor arena of our dreams, and you’re not wrong, it has been some time. Some of you have been here since the beginning, and some of you have joined along the way. Regardless of your tenure here, most of you just bought warm riding gloves and rain jackets and kicked on – and WE SALUTE YOU.
To better understand the strategic undertaking that is the GEC indoor arena, we have to take it way back. To give you the full picture, here’s a bit of background about Graham Equestrian Center and our facilities.
DNR has been great to the GEC family over the years and we wouldn’t be here without the generous support of the state of Maryland. But like any government entity, DNR is a busy group of folks and things take a lot of talking, persistence, and time. Thinking of sharing lessons with even more students in the bliss of an indoor was enough to keep our feet moving and emails flying – so we pushed on. Let’s look at everything that’s happened over the course of the Quest for the Indoor.
The Proposal: GEC proposes construction of indoor to DNR. Initial estimates, building requests and research were compiled and sent to DNR for approval.
Approval…. Kind of: GEC receives conditional approval with building stipulations from DNR.
Ok, you can build the arena. BUT….
Our original plans were not exactly what DNR was looking for, but that’s okay, we love a challenge. We took their list of requirements and headed to every resource we could think of, and came up with this.
After figuring out the type of structure we were allowed to build, the mission became funding. A large indoor riding space is no small financial undertaking; site excavation, construction and installation, fittings such as bleachers and lighting, electricity, water… there are a lot of things to consider. Initial estimates of $360,000 from our builders had us searching our couch cushions and our tack lockers for spare change. (With inflation and COVID and just life in general, that estimate has ballooned to over $1,000,000)
With our annual fundraising initiatives like clothing sales, digital fundraisers and events we bulked up the indoor arena capital fund to just over $35,000, but we weren’t moving the needle enough on our own.
Funding Identified: After researching possible funding avenues, writing to congress people and senators, and filing lots of paperwork, GEC submits a Legislative Bond Initiative Request to the Maryland General Assembly sponsored by Senator Christopher West and House Delegate Michele Guyton.
Success! GEC’s Legislative Bond Initiative Request was reviewed and approved for a Capital Grant of $100,000. This means that we can start spending money on our project and our expenses will be reimbursed through our grant up to $100,000.
As we expected, the estimates for this project have increased over time. Unexpectedly, they’ve increased beyond normal inflation due to the current global supply chain issues. The most recent estimates for the building are upwards of $1,000,000. We aren’t discouraged! (We get thrown into the dirt by 1200lb animals and get back on, we don’t give up easily).
2022 and 2023 was all about design. We engaged our selected vendor, Edge Innovations, Inc. to start a detailed design of the building because…pesky requirements – we need Stormwater Management Drawings and Erosion Control Plans complete, reviewed and approved by MDE before we can do anything else. To get those plans done by a civil engineer, they need more detailed design information.
While we were detailing, we realized that this needs to be a phased project. Phase I is a 100’x192’ covered riding area with a roof and pony walls. Phase II will be to enclose it completely, add cladding so it looks natural in the setting, and add 6 stalls, a tack room, feed room, wash stall and viewing areas.
Here at the end of 2023 we have JUST wrapped up detailed design for Phase I and we are finalizing RFP responses from civil engineering firms to complete Stormwater Management and Erosion Management plans (among other required things).
Once we have a better dollar estimate for Phase I and see how much the civil engineering will cost – we will approach the MD Legislature yet again and see if we can get approved for another grant. We are hopeful we will get approved because:
If everything goes just right (does it ever?) – we hope to have secured another Bond Bill Grant – and hopefully some other grants, so that we can start moving. That will require:
Spring of 2025 could be the time that it starts to feel real and we can begin the construction of the Phase I structure in the spring!
There are a lot of dependencies and wishful thinking build into this schedule – but we haven’t given up yet in the 8 years we have been working on this project!!! Just imagine – Cherry was a yearling and Butters wasn’t even a twinkle in his Momma’s eye yet way back then.
As you can see, our mission is long from over and we need your help to bring the dream of an indoor riding arena into reality. Listed below are some examples of things YOU can do to help in our quest!
Email [email protected] to get involved!