By Emily Baker
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD Post officials overseeing the renovations of the horse stables promised at a town hall meeting Thursday that boarders wishes likely will be honored in construction plans, but that a strict timeline must be adhered to or the projects money will be lost.
Because of your wonderful questions and input, we have done nothing, said Nicholas Johnsen, who leads the Direct-orate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
The more questions you ask, the more we push this can down the road, the closer I get to losing that money. I want this project committed.
MWR has committed $506,000 to renovating the Hunt and Saddle Club to include 88 10--by-12 stalls; 30-by-40 paddocks, or runs, bounded by a three-rail fence; and 10-by 12 tack rooms with concrete floors.
A third of that budget comes from the Installation Manage-ment Agency-Southwest, which oversees MWR. That money must be used by the end of September or its lost, Johnsen said.
Johnsen gave a March 1 deadline for agreement on how the stalls will be built, a topic that has been disputed since the renovation announcement came last year.
Which construction materials are best has been disputed, as have the sizes of stalls and tack rooms. Many boarders have said the stalls should be no smaller than 12-feet by 12-feet.
Im going to convince them the industry standard is 12-by-12 or die trying, said Sheryl Remick, one of three liaisons between MWR and boarders.
Post officials organized a town hall meeting in November to hear the disputes. But like the question of stall size, some of those concerns remain unsolved.
Whether stalls compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act will be built is unknown. Johnsen said the act does not require the new stalls to comply, but that he will research how much compliant stalls would cost to build.
Surveys were conducted about who would pay for feedings, additional hay storage space, trailer storage and stall cleanings, as discussed in the November meeting. Fifteen of the 45 surveys were returned, and none of the suggested services were approved. Most services were not approved because a required minimum amount of customers in order to break even for the service was not met.
The one area boarders indicated in the survey they would approve is organizing equestrian events at the facility.
West Fort Hoods Montague Stables, composed of 24 stalls, still is scheduled to be closed in 2007, which has angered boarders. Johnsen said repairing construction and correcting overgrazed pasture area would be too expensive.
Johnsen said he would consider privatizing the facility as long as MWR retained a percentage of the profits. He said he is trying to work out a similar deal with companies, including Macaroni Grill, to build restaurants on post and give 5-7 percent of the profits to MWR.
Because their options are still open, some boarders are hopeful they will like the end result.
I think were more on track than we were before these two meetings, said Catherine Levandovsky, one of the three liaisons.
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