Saddle Club construction continues through pandemic

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A crane lifting massive steel beams, and a concrete slab, signal progress being made for the new Clark County Saddle Club indoor riding facility.

Jackie Phillips, Clark County Saddle Club board chair, said the area will be more than double the size of the previous location.

The facility will allow for indoor barrel racing with the ability to run standard outdoor barrel patterns, Phillips said. There will also be space for vendors to set up shop during events.

The Saddle Club hired Robertson & Olson Construction, a general contractor from Camas, to complete the project.

Club members expect the construction of the project to wrap up this spring, but Phillips said it is difficult to pinpoint an exact opening date right now.

To help make the new facility possible, the Saddle Club raised over $38,000 through an auction in August 2020. The rest of the funding was sourced from donations, the club’s cash reserves and a loan, Phillips said.

“It’s a fairly large project that is fairly time-consuming, but it is moving right along,” she said.

The previous location included 14 acres at 10505 N.E. 117th Ave., which sold for $2.5 million in January 2019 to developer The Cosmopolitan, LLC.

In October 2018, the club purchased a 40-acre parcel at 11407 N.E. 174th Circle that will include an indoor arena and riding trail. The new property was purchased for about $767,000.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay in permitting and construction as county workers completed the majority of their work remotely, Phillips said.

“We can at least continue progress now,” she said.

Members are still able to ride at the previous location through a lease agreement between the club and The Cosmopolitan developers, Phillips said. Members who used the old location paid a monthly $10 fee.

The lease is set to terminate on Oct. 1, so there will be a period during the winter and early spring months where the club will be without access to facilities.

In the meantime, the club has hosted a few general meetings at the new location.

Phillips mentioned the new area is likely to increase Clark County’s economic value. Several hundred club members would use the facilities, and the annual Vancouver Rodeo would be brought back following the project’s completion.

The construction of the new facility, with the addition of the pandemic, led to a disruption in the annual rodeo, which hasn’t been held since 2018.

“I think everybody’s pretty excited to see (the facility) finally going up,” Phillips said. “It will probably be the premier equine facility in Southwest Washington and maybe for the entire west side of the mountains.”

Phillips credits a decrease in memberships to the belief that members thought they wouldn’t have a place to ride during construction, which isn’t the case.

“Lately, we’ve been getting new members because I think people can see the facility from (state Route 503.) You can see the arena go up,” Phillips said. “It’s been encouraging.”

Phillips said talk about moving venues began when the group felt they were being “crowded out” of the former location, mostly due to new apartment buildings and increased street traffic.

“It’s something I would have never foreseen myself getting involved in so deeply,” said Phillips, who has been an active board member for the last five to six years. “It has taken a tremendous amount of my time and a lot of other people’s time, energy and work to make this happen.”

The Clark County Saddle Club has been the hub for all things equestrian in the county since 1946.

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