A group of equestrians and community members has big plans to expand and improve the 50-acre Horse Lovers Park in northeast Phoenix.
But first they need to get the money.
Guests to the park, located on North Tatum Boulevard net to Loop 101, can currently bring their horses to ride on the trails or participate in equestrian events. Various organizations use the park, including Arizona State University’s equestrian team, Blue Ribbon Saddle Club and the American Quarter Horse Association.
Plans for the park include a covered arena, spectator area, a community park and a garden.
The park is operated by Friends of Horse Lovers Park, a partnership between LCS-Westminster and Horse Lovers Management Corporation. LCS-Westminster is the joint-venture owner of Sagewood, the senior living center across the road from Horse Lovers Park.
Mark Perry of LCS-Westminster said he hopes to see the park bring positive economic development into the northeast Phoenix area.
“It really is a affordable and accessible place for people within the Phoenix and the Scottsdale horse community to ride horses,” Perry said.
He said they hope to maintain the rustic, western look of the park while developing the area around it.
Funding their expansion dreams
Friends of Horse Lovers Park has worked to design a park master plan, which they hope to put into action in the near future, Perry said.
“Our plan is to come out with a capital campaign,” Perry said. “We are looking to go through the Phoenix Park Foundation and we are looking to fund as much money as we can to achieve this master plan in the next five years.”
The first major milestone would be to fund $2 million to build a covered arena in the park.
Perry said he hopes to host more scheduled equestrian shows at the park, while also taking advantage of the desert landscape to host catered events.Those could also bring additional revenue to the park.
Horse Lovers Park was shut down due to operating costs in 2009, but was reopened in 2010 by Ross Lobonati, the president of the Horse Lovers Corporation, and his family.
“I went down to fight for the park because I felt like I was getting kicked out of my house,” Lobonati said.
He said the park was run by volunteers for several years before he was able to start paying employees again.
“There was a core of 10 people over the last eight years, when there were emergencies we get 20-30 people to help clean up,” Lobonati said. “About two years ago, I was able to pay employees.”
Lobonati said Horse Lovers Management Corporation was excited to work with LCS-Westminster during the development of the new master plan with the City of Phoenix.
“We are very grateful for this partnership. It is great for us, it is great for the community around here,” Lobonati said. “We are going to have more income to hire more people and put on more events.”
Lobonati said it is a huge leap for the park, as they have plans to have more organized events such as the Jr. Rodeo Association.
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