By SUZANNA LOURIE
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The New York Horse Park, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to establishing the state’s first equine and agricultural park, has moved a little closer to its goal of purchasing the land and opening the park with a $10,000 grant from the New York Community Trust.
The New York Horse Park Inc. formed in 2006, when a group of people in the Capital District began to envision plans for a sprawling plot of land dedicated to equestrian sports, agriculture and outdoor activities.
It took time to grow the organization while relying on donations, grants and volunteers, but the New York Horse Park is acquiring a plot of land and start building — thanks to the help of the New York Community Trust’s recent grant.
According to Marsha Himler, president and chairwoman of the New York Horse Park, the grant was made at the suggestion of a Pawling couple — Hal and Sandra Epstein — who are supporters of the park’s mission.
“This generous consideration by Hal and Sandra Epstein is greatly appreciated,” Himler said in a statement. “During these tough economic times, we, as board members, understand how carefully these decisions are made.”
In addition to grants, the organization hosted the two-day Saratoga Horse & Tack Expo at Saratoga Race Course in October. The expo, which featured performances by Australian horseman Guy McLean, brought in just under $12,000 — less than board members had hoped.
The group want to purchase about 600 acres in Wilton between Northway exits 15 and 16, which is valued at between $6 million and $8 million. In the new year, the organization will move into the bulk of fundraising to cover the land cost. But before that phase, the group has used current funds to obtain a real estate appraisal for the Wilton land and start on the layout of the facility.
With the right amount of support, however, the New York Horse Park could be up and running within five years, said Dot Christiansen, board secretary.
Once complete, the park would be for all types of horses and sports and will feature an indoor arena with seating for up to 6,000 people, cross-country trails, outdoor arenas, an equine health center and education facility for seminars and clinics.
“To receive this $10,000 award helps advance the New York Horse Park to the next phase towards realization. For that, we are extremely grateful and look forward to announcing more exciting news about the horse park in the coming months,” Himler said.
For more information, go to www.nyhorsepark. org.