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New Fencing, Footing for Ernie Howlett Park Arenas

Rolling Hills Estates city officials say the larger arenas are safer for horses and riders after $200,000 in renovations.

Two of the main riding arenas at Equestrian Center have had their fencing and footing replaced, according to Rolling Hills Estates officials.

While installing the new fencing, the city enlarged both arenas to make them safer for competitions and recreational riding, officials said in a news release.

The new, all-weather footing material is a mixture of sand and recycled textile fabric, the city said. Both arenas were regraded for better drainage, and a sprinkler system was installed to keep the footing moist and reduce dust.

“We are really pleased with the results and have received a number of compliments from the equestrian community,” Community Services Director Andy Clark said in the release. “These improvements not only benefit the various horse show organizations, but also recreational riders, students and trainers.”

Additionally, new bleachers were installed. "It's really looking nice over there," Clark told the RHE City Council at the Aug. 14 meeting.

Contractor FCP Construction and Leone Equestrian completed the $200,000 removation ahead of schedule with Quimby fees and money donated by the Chandler Ranch Development for equestrian-related improvements. Developers are required to pay cities Quimby fees as part of residential development projects. Quimby fees are used for park, open space and recreational improvements; however, they can't be used to pay for ongoing maintenance. 

Other Quimby-funded improvements at the park include a new warm-up and lunging arena with new sand.

"I think we've got all the top-end requirements that were voice to us by the Portuguese Bend (National Horse Show) representatives in order to achieve the highest possible quality facility for the national shows," City Manager Doug Prichard told the council in August.

The Chandler Ranch Development money is part of an agreement with the city and local equestrians over the removal of the horse overlay in the residential area of the planned development at the site of the Chandler Quarry and Rolling Hills Country Club. Homes within the horse overlay must meet a minimum lot-size requirement, but developers of the Chandler Ranch community said the project would not work financially if they could only build 56 homes—rather than the planned 114—on the approximately 60 acres marked for residential properties.

Local equestrian group Palos Verdes Peninsula Horsemen's Association, the city, and Chandler Ranch Development hammered out an agreement in 2011 that said the developers would provide the city with money for equestrian improvements. In exchange, the city would match the payment with Quimby fund money it would earmark specifically for equestrian use. As part of the compromise, the PVPHA also agreed to not oppose the removal of the horse overlay.

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