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Alpharetta mulls closing equestrian center


Last regional riding facility



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The Wills Park Equestrian Center faces an uncertain future, as the Alpharetta 2025 Recreation and Parks Master Plan calls for it to be either moved or replaced to make way for other uses, such as fields or an indoor swimming pool. (click for larger version)
April 06, 2014
ALPHARETTA, Ga. The Wills Park Equestrian Center is a large, 300-stable facility that routinely hosts events throughout the year. However Alpharetta is considering tearing it down.

The question of what to do with the facility has long been on the city's mind. Alpharetta Recreation and Parks Director Mike Perry said it was originally built by Fulton County, on county land, decades ago. When Alpharetta annexed it, the facility became the city's responsibility.

"The in 1970s, when it was built by Fulton County, it was paid for by the whole county," Perry said. "It is no longer funded regionally."

Instead, the residents of Alpharetta pay for the upkeep of a facility Perry says it is infrequently used by its own residents, even though it is used extensively on a regional basis. There are events in the arenas 142 days of the year. However, it operates at a loss of about $225 thousand a year, costing more than twice that in upkeep from Alpharetta taxpayers.

Perry noted that many of the recreation facilities and programs operate at a loss, however they add a needed quality of life to the residents.

Milton in particular is known for its horse farms and riders who make regular use of the facility.

Alpharetta recently completed a draft of a 2025 Recreation and Parks Master Plan, detailing options and needs for the city in the next decade. Included in this plan are results of a poll of 400 residents about what they would like to see in the future. Of these results, more field space for football, soccer, lacrosse and baseball are desired. However those fields require a lot of land, land of which Alpharetta has precious little left. Another option is an indoor swimming pool.

An expensive equestrian park next to the large Wills Park would be prime real estate for more fields.

Laura Bentley, who owns and rides horses in Milton, said the loss of the park would be devastating for the horse community.

"So many people go there for local shows," she said. "I think it's really important. Most [riders] start out doing local, lower level shows. Wills Park is a great venue for that."

Without the Equestrian Center, Bentley said the next closest space is in Conyers, an hour away.

"When you have to travel with horses, it gets expensive," she said.

Perry stressed there are no plans of what to do with the Equestrian Center. More public discussion both with residents and with the City Council will be held in the coming years before any conclusive plan is drawn up.

MH 04-9-14

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  1. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 03:09 PM

    I guess it's just like everything else-the land is more valuable for others to use than for those of us with horses.
    If Wills Park closes or is torn down it will really be a shame. We can barely find places to keep our horses as it is due to development.

    kristina
    canton
  2. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 03:31 PM

    I would love to see how Wills Park is costing Alpharetta over $450K a year in costs....Other than cutting grass it's sand rings, 300 stalls that do not require painting, and office and restrooms. Where is all that money going? I'd like to see the accounting for all that money. Closing the park will have a huge impact on the equestrian business in the area which has already suffered from over development.

    Richard
    Johns Creek
  3. report print email
    Finally have come to their senses!
    April 08, 2014 | 03:56 PM

    The people who run the horse shows come to our city to use this facility because we GIVE it away to them! Easy solution, make them pay more to use tha facility to make it not a profitable venture for us. I know how much they make, and how shady most of them are. I know they are destroying the facility, go look at what has become of the stalls, arenas etc. it's a sad situation. We need to ban together and get this converted to something we, the citizens of Alpharetta can use. Not the rig-raf of the slimy horse show world.

    ExHorse Dad
    Atlanta
  4. report print email
    Finally have come to their senses!
    April 08, 2014 | 03:57 PM

    The people who run the horse shows come to our city to use this facility because we GIVE it away to them! Easy solution, make them pay more to use tha facility to make it not a profitable venture for us. I know how much they make, and how shady most of them are. I know they are destroying the facility, go look at what has become of the stalls, arenas etc. it's a sad situation. We need to ban together and get this converted to something we, the citizens of Alpharetta can use. Not the rig-raf of the slimy horse show world.

    ExHorse Dad
    Atlanta
  5. report print email
    A Devastating Loss
    April 08, 2014 | 03:58 PM

    Wills Park is one of the premier horse event venues in North Georgia. The shows attract world-class talent and open avenues for local businesses to expand to new clientele. This facility is also home to a number of charitable events that provide a sense of community and promote the positive image of Milton as an equestrian-friendly city. It would be such a shame to lose this beacon of the North Georgian horse world, and a devastating loss to horse owners and vendors as they struggle to find a facility to match Wills Park Equestrian Center. I humbly ask the council to reconsider its closure, and instead, to explore avenues that open the grounds during non-events that will benefit local businesses, horse owners, and the city.

    HorseLover
    Canton
  6. report print email
    Wills park
    April 08, 2014 | 04:17 PM

    Dear Ex horse show dad, (and city of alpharetta) name calling does not help. The horse shows bring in thousands of dollars per year to the local community in food and lodging as well as to local businesses and fees paid to the park. In the past several years all of the country has been affected by the economy so lets look at the numbers of the park after the overall economy has rebounded. Horses have provided thousands of children wonderful experiences. As a horse show regular and according to you "a slimy person," I witness much joy at the shows. I have watched young ones grow up and learn about life and it joys and challenges at these shows. I also see people walking dogs, riding bikes, flying kites, playing fetch with their dogs, dog shows, people playing a pick up game of football or soccer. Just this weekend I saw a guy playing his drum set while a bunch of people sat and picnicked. I must say I think wills park is perfect the way it is. Most athletic fields are geared more to boys sports, well wills park is overwhelmingly a place for the girls. Girls have a safe and local place to grow, learn and enjoy their sport. Their are plenty of ball fields.

    Jennifer
    Alpharetta
  7. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 04:36 PM

    Sounds like this is a finance management issue, not an issue of how useful Wills Park is. It is always busy.

    Patti
    canton
  8. report print email
    Wills park
    April 08, 2014 | 04:45 PM

    I have been riding and showing at wills park for over 20 years. I believe other options need to be researched. Closing the park would be a mistake and a hard hit to the horse community. I truly believe the horse community will come together and do what we can to keep this from happening if given option to.

    Carrie
    Canton
  9. report print email
    Memories
    April 08, 2014 | 04:45 PM

    I grew up at wills park with my horses. My first horse show was there 20 years ago. My daughters first show was there. I know it has grown in the area.... but this generation will share no memories with parents because everything is being developed. We can just drive by and tell them " that's where mommy did this, or daddy grew up here" as we pass the neighborhoods it has become. Its very sad. This is a safe place that many have enjoyed over the years. I don't agree with how much it is costing a year for the city. There are many events held a year that bring in lots of money to local businesses. And maybe we should make sure the city is using the money the best way they can. How much are they spending on upkeep? Have they tried to get better prices? And how much would it cost the taxpayers to close it, knock it down, and rebuild something? Its not just used for the horse world... what about the rodeos your kids like, and dogs shows, and charitable events? Anyway, I sure hope they choose to leave it as it is. :)

    Bree
    Alpharetta
  10. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 06:14 PM

    I have been running dogs at Wills Park for 14 years now in the arena. Some of the dog agility events held there are qualifying events for shows such as the AKC Nationals, the World Championships, and the Purina Dog Challenge events (you may have seen on t.v.).
    I sincerely hope those who have a say/vote in this decision will do their research and not just take someone at their word on the financial issues that have been brought up.
    Not everyone plays soccer, tennis or swims. Horse and dog shows may not be for everyone, but why take it away from those who do love it? These shows do indeed bring in people from other states who frequent the local restaurants and hotels.
    Please think long and hard about taking this venue away from those of us who love it.


    Michele Gregory
    Buford
  11. report print email
    Wills Park Equestrian Center
    April 08, 2014 | 06:20 PM

    Chastain Park looked at the same thing but found a way to make it more profitable. I have shown and gone to events at Wills Park since there was only one ring and always look forward to coming to the area. Remember we spend money at hotels, restaurants, and shopping. All a boost to your economy. In addition, many times there are several events happening when I am in the park. Local residents use the walking trails and bring their families by to see the horses. This venue is used by so many people. Please do not deny us this wonderful park! It can never be replaced!

    Tina Gunby Smith
    Toccoa
  12. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 06:21 PM

    Wills is a great place. It has had its ups and downs over the years. we have been there for over 20 years showing horses, watching dog shows, and attending Rodeos. there have some pretty high visibility horse shows at Wills Park that draw multiple hundreds of entries. those 300 stalls do not begin to hold all the horses and portable stalls are put up. a good percentage of feed, hay and shavings is purchased from Local Vendors. The trainers, competitors, officials, administrators, sponsors, parents stay in local motels and eat in local restaurants. I really think that the study needs to be more than just the impact on the Alpharetta Parks and Recreations Department budget. The amount of money spent at the local businesses should be taken into account as well.
    A rumor floated several years ago that the entire 100 acres (the horse park is 40 acres, i believe) was deeded to Fulton County by the Wills Family. The condition of retaining the entire tract was the establishment and maintenance of an equestrian facility.
    In closing, I would like to tell the contributor that chose not to leave his name that the term is not rig-raf. I believe he meant riff raff. Oh, by the way, have you bet on any college football games lately?

    rob
    Ball Ground
  13. report print email
    no name comment
    April 08, 2014 | 06:24 PM

    Sorry I forgot to put my name on the last comment
    I am Rob Roebuck

    Rob Roebuck
    Ball Ground
  14. report print email
    no name comment
    April 08, 2014 | 06:24 PM

    Sorry I forgot to put my name on the last comment
    I am Rob Roebuck

    Rob Roebuck
    Ball Ground
  15. report print email
    Hate to lose Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 06:27 PM

    I am a resident of South Carolina who visits Alpharetta often because of the Wills Park facility. My husband and I run dogs in the agility shows there. Many out of towners come for the dog and horse shows. We pay for hotels, we eat in your restaurants. The planners should be looking at the big picture, not just the actual cost of the park. Would another baseball diamond or pool bring in that kind of cash flow to your local businesses?

    Jan Padgett
    Anderson, SC
  16. report print email
    willls park
    April 08, 2014 | 06:47 PM

    I have been showing at Wills Park over 20 years and built an equestrian business as a result of the huge interest by the people that live in community. We are at the facility almost all weekends with.our customers. We pay taxes here and fully utilize the park for equestrian activities. The closing of park will have a major negative impact for all the surrounding small businesses that are supported as result of equestrian shows. Wake up council men and women. .perhaps you need a a better finance advisor. Look at the numbers and tax revenue that supports you....Milton/Alpharetta has one of largest horse owner businesses in the Country....big mistake should you close the equestrian park.

    chris
    alpharetta
  17. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 06:54 PM

    Poor Ex-Horse Dad has obviously had a bad experience in the horse world as have many of us. But having spent 25 years participating in the local horse community, both myself and my daughter, I have found that many, if not most, riders, trainers (and show managers!) are pretty up front and honest. And not particularly destructive. Stalls at Wills suffer more from use than willful destruction. Georgia is one of the most competitive equestrian regions in the country with many of its riders coming from the Alpharetta area. Many of them started their showing careers at Wills Park and many continue to show there. It would be a devastating loss for the horse community if Wills Park were to close. The citizens of Alpharetta and the surrounding region ARE using this facility! Additionally, many shows bring in out-of-towners who spend $$ in our hotels, restaurants and shops. Please reconsider closure - research ways of providing income with other events and of keeping costs down.

    Gail
    Roswell
  18. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 06:54 PM

    Poor Ex-Horse Dad has obviously had a bad experience in the horse world as have many of us. But having spent 25 years participating in the local horse community, both myself and my daughter, I have found that many, if not most, riders, trainers (and show managers!) are pretty up front and honest. And not particularly destructive. Stalls at Wills suffer more from use than willful destruction. Georgia is one of the most competitive equestrian regions in the country with many of its riders coming from the Alpharetta area. Many of them started their showing careers at Wills Park and many continue to show there. It would be a devastating loss for the horse community if Wills Park were to close. The citizens of Alpharetta and the surrounding region ARE using this facility! Additionally, many shows bring in out-of-towners who spend $$ in our hotels, restaurants and shops. Please reconsider closure - research ways of providing income with other events and of keeping costs down.

    Gail
    Roswell
  19. report print email
    willis park
    April 08, 2014 | 07:02 PM

    I use the park for dog agility and most of us come in from out of town and are staying in hotels, eating at the local restaurants,buying gas and bringing in a lot of money to the economy. Hopefully people are looking at the big picture before making decisions.

    Jeanne Harem
    Bessemer
  20. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 07:09 PM

    I find it hard to believe that Alpharetta Residents do not use the facility, as the article states. This sounds like a financial management issue to me, as there is always something going on, not just horse shows. Little improvements have been made in recent years that were not paid for via fund raising. The Park has also been used as a place of refuge when other barns have flooded. As other have said, closing Will Park would force what's' left of the local horse community out, along with the money spent at local stores, hotels, restaurants, etc. Please think twice about closing Wills Park.

    Rebecca
    Ellijay
  21. report print email
    Say it ain't so, Wills
    April 08, 2014 | 07:38 PM

    Like some of the other commentors, I spend at least 5-6 weekends a year showing dogs at Wills. It is the best local facility we have and we would certainly use it more if more weekends were available to our clubs. I know what my club spends to rent just the covered arena for a three day weekend, and it is certainly not free. We bring in folks from SC, AL, and TN for our shows...hotels, restaurants, gas stations, coffee shops, and so on benefit from the 200 folks we bring in for the weekend. I hope Fulton County looks into the management first, before making any rash decisions.

    Alecia
    Canton
  22. report print email
    Closing of Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 07:44 PM

    2011 Farmgate: Horses rank 8th in agricultural impact
    for State of Georgia.

    Georgia's horse industry has a $2.5 billion impact on the Georgia economy every year.

    The above is the economical impact of the horse industry in Georgia. One of the top ten revenue generating industries for the state - according to the dept. of ag - cooperative extension study - UGA. 2011

    One must look at the total impact this facility has on Alpharetta - At any horse show there is an average of
    100 horses, and 300 spectators/owners/trainers. Not only do they pay horse expenses - they dine in Alpharetta restaurants, sleep in hotels, purchase gasoline for their trailers/cars and patronize many other establishments.

    J Brown
    Canton
  23. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 07:57 PM

    Please, PLEASE don't close Wills Park Equestrian Center. I know people love to think of us horse folks as rich and snotty, but if I'm honest - I'm poor as a church mouse, and the reason I drive all the way down from near Chattanooga is because it is the one AFFORDABLE alternative - for the rest of us. The shows at Wills Park do more to level the playing field between the 1% and us normal backyard horse folks than ANY other venue I've been to. You can show there and pick up state and national points for a fraction of what it costs at Conyers or Tri-State. I've always been glad to support the wonderful, clean, reasonably priced hotels of Alpharetta and the wonderful small businesses in the area. I have shown there for over 25 years. It is my favorite venue anywhere in the South - anywhere. Its loss will not only break my heart but probably take me out of the showing game, because nowhere else is as affordable as Wills. I would have no issue with purchasing a seasonal membership in order to contribute to upkeep, if they were made available to out-of-towners. Please, Alpharetta, do whatever you can to keep this venue open.

    Liz
    LaFayette
  24. report print email
    Closing of Wills Park Equestrian Center
    April 08, 2014 | 08:02 PM

    For the past 14 years I have been showing dogs at Wills Park. One Fall I spent 13 nights in a local hotel due to the frequent schedule of showing. Of course, I am also eating in local restaurants. Then there are incidental expenses for whatever items I may have forgotten. My presence at Wills Park has certainly been financially important to the local economy. OH! And how could I forget the purchase of gasoline! This is a lovely & lucrative venue for the area.

    Mary Kay Keenan
    Spartanburg, SC
  25. report print email
    Wills Park Equestrian Facility
    April 08, 2014 | 08:11 PM

    I have lived in Alpharetta for 18 years. My daughter used to show at Wills Park when she was younger. I am an adult equestrian and have also shown horses at Wills park over the years. The Equestrian facility makes Alpharetta unique and harkens back to when the area was mostly made up of horse farms. The financial impact in the community of those that use the equestrian facility is huge!!! I would love to see those numbers published. Please SAVE WILLS PARK!!!!

    Amy
    Alpharetta
  26. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 08:28 PM

    I disagree completely that Alpharetta residents do not use Wills Park. Not only are there many horse owning residents like myself using the facility, but you only have to go to Wills Park during a show to see how many local residents bring their children to watch the horse shows and dog agility events to know how much our non horse owning residents appreciate the venue. To me that is a vital part of our community AND our local heritage and I would hope the City would have the foresight to recognize the aspects of Alpharetta that make it more attractive than another McMansionville.

    denice
    alpharetta
  27. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 08:28 PM

    I disagree completely that Alpharetta residents do not use Wills Park. Not only are there many horse owning residents like myself using the facility, but you only have to go to Wills Park during a show to see how many local residents bring their children to watch the horse shows and dog agility events to know how much our non horse owning residents appreciate the venue. To me that is a vital part of our community AND our local heritage and I would hope the City would have the foresight to recognize the aspects of Alpharetta that make it more attractive than another McMansionville.

    denice
    alpharetta
  28. report print email
    Wills Park Equestrian Center
    April 08, 2014 | 08:44 PM

    I am a resident of Alpharetta and have shown my dogs in agility at Wills Park for nearly 14 years. It is a very special place for me. People come from all over the southeast for the multiple agility shows held there. The facility is a favorite and these competitors-like Mary Kay spend their money at our stores, restaurants and hotels. They contribute to our overall locale economy just as the horse people do. Wills is unique as it not only supports the rec sports but also the horse and dog competitors as well. There is no other place in Atlanta that offers a facility like this. People come to watch both the horses and dogs. We need to unite and fight to keep the equestrian center open

    Elizabeth Downey
    Alpharetta
  29. report print email
    Wills Park Equestrian Center
    April 08, 2014 | 08:44 PM

    I am a resident of Alpharetta and have shown my dogs in agility at Wills Park for nearly 14 years. It is a very special place for me. People come from all over the southeast for the multiple agility shows held there. The facility is a favorite and these competitors-like Mary Kay spend their money at our stores, restaurants and hotels. They contribute to our overall locale economy just as the horse people do. Wills is unique as it not only supports the rec sports but also the horse and dog competitors as well. There is no other place in Atlanta that offers a facility like this. People come to watch both the horses and dogs. We need to unite and fight to keep the equestrian center open

    Elizabeth Downey
    Alpharetta
  30. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 08:45 PM

    I have watched the growth of Wills Park Equestrian Center go from a sleepy little one ring uncovered facility with no stalls and only being able to park your trailer on the grassy hillside where the office drive is now to 4 rings and hundreds of stalls. You can't just throw out numbers without making documentation public. Yes land is scarce and hard to come by in Alphatetta but that's not justification misleading people about who uses the park. I personally know hundreds and hundreds of "Alpharetta-ions" who use the horse park for horses.dogs, frisbee,picnicking, and the jogging trail so I believe that trumps the 400 residents they said they polled. Was this so called poll done over at the ball fields? As for losing money, I believe that is a matter of putting oranges where apples should be.

    Sharon Gunby
    Roswell
  31. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 08:54 PM

    I personally bring customers and their horses to Wills Park at least 2 weekends per month on average. Our customers prefer going to Wills Park and Alpharetta over the one other available equestrian facility because of how impressive the Alpharetta horse community is. They enjoy shopping at area tack stores, dining at local restaurants (some times multiple times in one day). They stay at local hotels and often visit the local malls and movie theaters when we have an early finish at the shows. Wills Park has been a loved venue for many years and one of the few remaining sites as the area has become developed. Every time I am there I see local (non horse owning residents) visiting and enjoying the park as well. It would be a true shame if it were to close.

    Stefanie
    Flowery Branch
  32. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 09:29 PM

    Please don't close it. As a horse show mom for the last 14 years, I am always happy when a show is held at Wills Park. I like Alpharetta for shopping, the multitude of hotels, and all the dining options. We spend our days at the park and lunches and evenings on the town when we have a weekend horse show in Wills Park.

    Lola Rosenbaum
    Warner Robins, GA
  33. report print email
    What a horrible idea!
    April 08, 2014 | 09:35 PM

    I am a 30 year resident of the area and have actively horse showed at the Wills Park Equestrian Center for about 16 years. Closing Wills Park is a horrible idea. I know dozens and dozens of people that include Wills Park on their monthly calendars because of the horse shows. It is considered to be one of the areas top show sites. So much of our area has been eaten up by developers, leave alone one of the true gems in the county.

    Carol Cockcroft
    Alpharetta
  34. report print email
    Wills Park Equestrian Center
    April 08, 2014 | 10:47 PM

    As others have stated, I've been coming down for dog agility trials at Wills Park's covered arena for 14 years.
    That's a lot of motel nights, meals, and gas. Alpharetta is lucky to have such a great, animal-friendly facility.

    Jean Hood
    Brentwood, TN
  35. report print email
    Wills Park
    April 08, 2014 | 10:58 PM

    Do you folks have ANY idea what Wills Park brings to Alpharetta businesses in income??? Hotels? Restaurants? Shopping? I think you should figure that up or you would not be talking about this. Better management is the cure for all of your complaints. Shame on you for even considering this. You will be cutting your own lifeline.

    Dean Lake
    Greenville
  36. report print email
    Doesn't Alpharetta Want Our Money?
    April 08, 2014 | 11:12 PM

    Are you serious? Don't local residents benefit from the money horse people spend in the community? Doesn't the area get its distinctive flavor from the presence of a thriving horse culture? Without Wills Park and the horse business it supports Alpharetta will be another bland suburb of Atlanta.

    More to the point, the money horse people spend in town gives back probably ten fold over the small amount in taxes paid. Thousands of exhibitors travel each year to the site. They stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, and shop (and they pay lots of taxes when they do so). If they are lucky like me in addition to that they get their alternators replaced ($600) at Pep Boys across from the park. (And they were awesome! Thanks for being there!) Moreover, the park is crucial to the economy of the local horse business which is Wills Park is not broken. Don't fix it.

    Any economists out there who can total up the number of exhibitors, their hotel, food, and shopping estimates for a weekend of horse showing at Wills? It shouldn't be too hard to get the numbers and an estimate.

    How about the rec center getting some riding lessons going at the park? If what they want is more recreational activity it seems strange that they don't with it right there and already built and busy 142 days a year.



    Alicia Carroll
    Auburn, AL
  37. report print email
    HELP SAVE WILLS PARK
    April 08, 2014 | 11:24 PM

    Please seek equitable cost-sharing options for maintaining the equestrian center at Wills Park. This beloved and heavily used facility is central to our history, and our future. Devoted horse people from all equestrian disciplines, as well as canine agility devotees, would gladly cooperate in developing a partnership with local leaders who recognize the economic and cultural asset that Wills Park represents.


    Maureen Allen
    Talking Rock
  38. report print email
    HELP SAVE WILLS PARK
    April 08, 2014 | 11:24 PM

    Please seek equitable cost-sharing options for maintaining the equestrian center at Wills Park. This beloved and heavily used facility is central to our history, and our future. Devoted horse people from all equestrian disciplines, as well as canine agility devotees, would gladly cooperate in developing a partnership with local leaders who recognize the economic and cultural asset that Wills Park represents.


    Maureen Allen
    Talking Rock
  39. report print email
    HELP SAVE WILLS PARK
    April 08, 2014 | 11:24 PM

    Please seek equitable cost-sharing options for maintaining the equestrian center at Wills Park. This beloved and heavily used facility is central to our history, and our future. Devoted horse people from all equestrian disciplines, as well as canine agility devotees, would gladly cooperate in developing a partnership with local leaders who recognize the economic and cultural asset that Wills Park represents.


    Maureen Allen
    Talking Rock
  40. report print email
    Memories
    April 08, 2014 | 11:50 PM

    I have grown up at wills park and have made so many great memories I couldn't imagine it not being there anymore. Please find it in your heart to keep wills park alive as a horse park!!!! It makes so many people happy!!!!! Please!!!!!!!!

    Alyssa
    Peachtree city
  41. report print email
    Please keep the Equestrian Center open
    April 09, 2014 | 08:30 AM

    I've lived in this area for almost 30 years now. The Wills Park Equestrian Center has been a staple of my horse experience for years. Back in 2009, I knew several people who were incredibly grateful to have a place of refuge to take their horses during the flood. Showing at Wills Park is almost a rite of passage for younger riders, and it is a safe, low-key place to show for older Adult Amateur riders. It is a central location for a good portion of the Atlanta equestrian world.

    Please do not destroy this vital part of our equestrian world.

    Bree Lake
    Roswell
  42. report print email
    turning our passion to wreckage
    April 09, 2014 | 08:46 AM

    When I was 3 I got on a horse for the first time. Four years later I atteneded my first horse show at wills park which left me hooked for life. This park has allowed me to expirence the excitement of competition, the thrill of winning, and humbling loses. Not onl this, but wills park led me to a life lomg goal to become someone great in this world and make the most out of my life by becoming an equestrian vet. Finally wills park is the home to a memorial tree representing a ashley howard, a beautiful girl who passed away. In honor and memory of her I ask wills park please not be torn down. My dreams and passions flourished at wills park as a child a helped make me the determined hard worker I am now. If I come home from the university of kentucky to see wills gone, itll be a hit to the heart. I hope the city finds some other way to solve their issue rather than tearing down this essential beloved park.

    Keili

    Keili
    cumming, ga
  43. report print email
    turning our passion to wreckage
    April 09, 2014 | 08:46 AM

    When I was 3 I got on a horse for the first time. Four years later I atteneded my first horse show at wills park which left me hooked for life. This park has allowed me to expirence the excitement of competition, the thrill of winning, and humbling loses. Not onl this, but wills park led me to a life lomg goal to become someone great in this world and make the most out of my life by becoming an equestrian vet. Finally wills park is the home to a memorial tree representing a ashley howard, a beautiful girl who passed away. In honor and memory of her I ask wills park please not be torn down. My dreams and passions flourished at wills park as a child a helped make me the determined hard worker I am now. If I come home from the university of kentucky to see wills gone, itll be a hit to the heart. I hope the city finds some other way to solve their issue rather than tearing down this essential beloved park.

    Keili

    Keili
    cumming, ga
  44. report print email
    acknowledge economic impact? where's the strategic plan?
    April 09, 2014 | 09:58 AM

    I was struck by the omission of bringing dollars into the community. Yes, parks and recreation is for residents... but residents also benefit when out-of-towners come in and sleep in our hotels and eat at our restaurants. The money gap does not seem all that big, that wouldn't be covered by increasing fees - can have a more substantial increase in fees if they upgrade the barns etc. A better Wills Park would also bring in more or larger shows. This is all theoretical, as we're not looking at a strategic plan for it... but again, not acknowledging the positive economic impact is short sighted.

    Holly Davis
    Milton GA
  45. report print email
    Don't close Wills Park
    April 09, 2014 | 10:07 AM

    I, among MANY others, come to Alpharetta at least 6 - 8 times a year from out of town. I only come to go to Wills Park dog shows, but I'm staying at a motel, eating out, buying gas, and purchasing items at the convenience store. You need to add all that loss revenue from your city when you think of the loss of Wills Park. I have NO other reason to come to your city, if it's torn down. That really adds up, when you multiply it by 100 people!

    Mimi Fountain
    Columbus
  46. report print email
    Many uses of Equestrian Center
    April 09, 2014 | 10:30 AM

    We also have a lot of dog shows at the Equestrian Arena, and dog people are not rich! (I don't know that all horse people are - many people pour their extra dimes into sports that they love, including people who buy equipment and uniforms for their kids to play baseball or soccer.)

    Cub Scouts also have their summer camp in the ring. Where will they go that is conveniently located for the parents, yet is also a safe place that can easily be monitored for little ones, because of the limited entrances and exits?

    How many facilities does Alpharetta have that draw out-of-towners to sleep in Alpharetta hotels and eat in Alpharetta restaurants? The horse and dog show clubs pay money to use the facility as well, and that would go away. The park has raised the fees over the years, and the dog and horse show people keep coming because of the location. If that goes away, the revenue it draws will not only go away, but will go to competing cities, like Conyers and Chestatee. When Alpharetta lost the telecom industry because of the economy, many wondered how the city would survive. It did survive, but now it wants to drive away a source of revenue for Alpharetta hotels and restaurants.

    Tammy
    Cumming
  47. report print email
    Don't close down!
    April 09, 2014 | 11:13 AM

    I have spent 9 years showing on this beautiful show ground, this show ground attracts people from all over georgia even Florida and the Carolina's. Most of which have to stay in hotels, eat out, shop, and much more. The closing of this facility will effect most of Alpharetta, including the tack stores that are located there, the hotels, resturants, etc. There are not many places left in Georgia to show at, and the closure of this show ground will be devastating to the horse community, not everyone can afford to drive to conyers for a horse show. And ontop of it all conyers only has so many available dates for shows to come! So a lot of the local shows that are held at wills park might have to shut down due to no place for them to hold their shows. So please don't close this facility it will effect the entire community! Most people who go there on a regular basis for showing will no longer have a reason to come to Alpharetta!

    Sarah Gottschalk
    Lawrenceville ga
  48. report print email
    Save Wills Equestrian Park
    April 09, 2014 | 11:44 AM

    We have been showing at Wills Park for 5 years now. We enjoy every second of every minute we are there. Plenty of people walking the trails, watching the shows from the benches and bleachers, kids flying kites, picnics, flag football, etc.
    Taking this facility will be a huge mistake. Tons of people travel all over to go to these horse shows. They use local hotels and restaurants during these weekends. As far as the Ex Horse Show dad, sounds like you have had bad experiences at ALL horse show venues since you say you are a "Ex" horse show dad. Bet it is from your nasty attitude. Grow Up.

    Nicole
    Woodstock
  49. report print email
    Save Wills Equestrian Park
    April 09, 2014 | 11:54 AM

    We have been showing at Wills Park for 5 years now. We enjoy every second of every minute we are there. Plenty of people walking the trails, watching the shows from the benches and bleachers, kids flying kites, picnics, flag football, etc.
    Taking this facility will be a huge mistake. Tons of people travel all over to go to these horse shows. They use local hotels and restaurants during these weekends. As far as the Ex Horse Show dad, sounds like you have had bad experiences at ALL horse show venues since you say you are a "Ex" horse show dad. Bet it is from your nasty attitude. Grow Up.

    Nicole
    Woodstock
  50. report print email
    Save Wills Equestrian Park
    April 09, 2014 | 11:54 AM

    We have been showing at Wills Park for 5 years now. We enjoy every second of every minute we are there. Plenty of people walking the trails, watching the shows from the benches and bleachers, kids flying kites, picnics, flag football, etc.
    Taking this facility will be a huge mistake. Tons of people travel all over to go to these horse shows. They use local hotels and restaurants during these weekends. As far as the Ex Horse Show dad, sounds like you have had bad experiences at ALL horse show venues since you say you are a "Ex" horse show dad. Bet it is from your nasty attitude. Grow Up.

    Nicole
    Woodstock
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