DEADLINE TO FINALIZE DESERT PARK LEASE EXTENDED TO SEPTEMBER

By on July 13, 2010

OSOYOOS TIMES-July 14, 2010

By Laurena Weninger – Osoyoos Times

Working out a contract for the operation of Osoyoos’s Desert Park has been a bigger process than originally anticipated, said Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells, and that means that contract may now not be ready until the fall.
“There are bigger deficiencies than either party had anticipated,” Wells said, referring to the contract that is in the works between the Town and South Interior Recreational Equine Centre (SIREC) for the running of the recreational facility.
In May, the group’s president, Allan Carswell, explained that even though SIREC was chosen as the proponent to run the park in December, 2009, the development of the contract was going to take until July 1.
Back then, Carswell said even though both parties agreed to the terms of the contract there was still a lot of work regarding the implementation and rules governing the lease.
But the July 1 deadline was missed and the new target is Sept. 30.
Wells said it’s still a matter of working out the details.
“There have been infrastructure surprises involving electrical, involving water, involving effluent pipes,” he said.
Working out other, more minor points has also been a challenge.
The large number of user groups wishing to use the park has meant more details to plan for.
For example, if the racetrack operators want to water the track at a certain time of day, it can’t be at the same time when slo-pitch or soccer players are arriving for their activities, Wells said.
A media release put out by the Town said that the completion of the contract will involve “additional information about the operational needs of the site” and that the delay is partly because of the “complexity of the details.”
“Things are always a bit more complex when you get into the details, and we want to take the time to get it right,” said Wells in the release. “We certainly recognize all the hard work and the success that SIREC has achieved at Desert Park over the past year and we want to work out an agreement with them for future operations – but we have to be fair and prudent for the users of all the facilities we have there.”
And money is an issue also, said Wells, particularly in relation to the infrastructure repairs.
“There were funding issues there,” he said.
The media release states the Town now plans to reinvest a portion of the revenue from the lease with SIREC into repairs at the site, but Wells said he could not comment on how much that would be.
Over the past year SIREC, which holds a temporary lease, has rebuilt the horse barns, graded and resurfaced the racetrack, repaired horse pens, put a new footing in the outdoor arena, upgraded 11 RV sites, established an equipment yard and carried out a general site cleanup.
Last year, 118 horses were brought to the site for training and it is expected this year the park will welcome 143 horses, taking up its full capacity of boarding space.
A spokesperson from SIREC could not be reached by press time.
reporter@osoyoostimes.com

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