With plans for a new dog park at Friendswood’s Old City Park under way, a group of area equestrian fans are worried such an amenity may displace another one that is part of the city’s heritage.
Speaking before City Council last Monday were residents and park-users who urged city leaders to preserve the 60-year-old horse arena located within Old City Park, 300 Briarmeadow.
Cathy Williams, who lives adjacent to the horse arena, said it is a unique park feature that most people within the city don’t even know about.
“Everybody I talk to in public, when I tell them I live by the horse arena, they say, ‘We have a horse arena?'” she said. “We have it, but we don’t promote it. That’s a shame in itself. If you promoted it more, I think you would find that people really want it.”
Susan Burris, who owns a horse stable outside the city limits, said she uses the horse arena at Old City Park.
“It can be used for training,” she said. “You get a lot of attention when you’re there, because there are still a lot of people who don’t know about horses. It’s part of Texas heritage,” she said. “It’s becoming really difficult to find places where you can actually ride horses. Since it’s there already, it’s a wonderful opportunity to draw people into Friendswood.”
Regular “play days” have been held at the arena since 1996, and draw in outsiders who then visit retailers and restaurants nearby, she added.
The council also heard from Marietta Benson and her daughter, who were members of the old Friendswood Family Riders group that built Old City Park Arena, and continues to ride there.
Benson pointed out that the arena may not be in constant use, but is nonetheless treasured.
“If it’s raining, the soccer fields aren’t going to be used every single weekend, but you’re building more of those,” she said.
Originally planned for 1776 Memorial Park, the dog park amenity, part of the improvements funded by the 2013 bonds, was switched to Old City Park because fencing requirements at the original location proved too costly.
No action – either on the final location of the dog park or the fate of the horse arena – has been made by council, city staff said.
“At this time, the city has no plans to remove the arena or replace it with a dog park.”
City planning manager Nick Haby stated, “Dog park details are still preliminary, and the Parks Board and City Council still have a lot of discussion ahead of them related to those types of details.”
The council usually meets on the first Monday of each month at City Hall, 910 S. Friendswood Dr. Full agendas are posted on the city’s website, www.friendswood.tx.us.