Indoor arena planned to cover riders' needs

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— Routt County residents who want to ride their horses indoors during the long winter months must trailer their animals west to Craig or make arrangements to use one of a handful of private covered arenas in the Steamboat Springs area. That could change under a proposal from some Hayden-area residents.

Keith Barnett, his wife Diane and their partner, Don Moraites, want to construct an indoor riding arena near Hayden so that community members have a warm, dry place to enjoy their horses that is closer to home.

The three purchased what once was the Hayden High School gym from the city of Craig. The quonset hut is approximately 100-by-204 feet and is what Keith Barnett believes is a perfect space for an indoor riding arena.

"We mess around with our horses all year long and we recognize the void of anywhere near here to ride in the winter time," Barnett said. "We thought it was a good idea, the building came available, and so we decided to buy it and to try to make this work. We want to make this an addition to the community and we're really excited about it."

The proposed facility would be called Two Socks Arena and located on the Barnetts' property just outside of the Hayden city limits, near the Haven. The property is 15 acres and is surrounded by vacant land owned by Seneca Coal Co.

"We want to try to have the building open to the public. We will probably have to charge membership fees to help pay for it but, I see the local 4-H club using it, the Hayden Roping Club can practice there, we want to offer day rentals for horse shows and things like that," Barnett said. "We even see it as an overflow for the fairgrounds in case there is poor weather conditions during fair. I could see the fair dance being held there."

Barnett wasn't sure what they would charge for membership fees, but he plans to circulate a questionnaire to the public to help them price use of the facility. Tentatively, the group is looking at a $50 per month figure.

"We really want the community's input on this. We want it to be affordable and something that the majority of people in the area will be able to use," he said. "We're certainly not looking to get rich off of this but we do want the arena to take care of itself."

The developers of Two Socks Arena will have to jump a few fences before they can open for business. They will be meeting with the Hayden Town Board at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, to request a letter of support that they plan to include in their county special use permit request. The group needs a special use permit, approved by the county Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners, before requesting a building permit.

"We would like to have the arena up and running by the fall," Barnett said. "We're hopeful we'll get approval from the county."

Hayden Town Manager Rob Straebel said the idea of an indoor riding arena is a good one.

"With my limited knowledge of the project, I think there would certainly seem to be a lot of local interest," Straebel said. "If the project is approved, it would be about more opportunities for recreation in this area."


-- To reach Bryna Larsen, call 871-4205 or e-mail blarsen@amigo.net

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