LUMBERTON — Site work for construction of a horse barn with 100 stalls at the Southeast North Carolina Agricultural Events Center hopefully will be under way by September, according to Cecil Jackson, the vice president of the Borderbelt Horseman’s Association.
Jackson said the state is now looking at a “shed stall ” design that puts stalls back to back. This design is less expensive than the design the state has been considering.
“It’s not exactly what we all want, but we want a center we can afford,” attested Jackson, who has for more than 20 years been a driving force behind the movement to develop a facility in Robeson County to house equestrian shows. “But they will be nice…They will be something our community can be proud of.”
Jackson said that maybe in a year or so more stalls can be added, bringing the total up from 100 to 400.
“We still have a long way to go,” he said. “We still need such things as a PA system and bleachers.”
Robeson County Commissioner David Edge, a staunch supporter of the stalls project, recently provided state officials with design specifications and cost estimates for building a shed stall barn similar to those he took photos of at Kentucky Horse Park earlier this year.
“This design is more economically feasible than the current design that is being considered,” Edge said.
“We currently have enough money to build stalls of this kind,” according to Edge. “But if we are required to put in bathroom facilities we may not have enough.”
Kent Yelverton, the director of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Property and Construction Division, said Thursday he is reviewing the design proposal submitted by Edge to see if the stall barn would meet all state requirements, be economically feasible, and meet the recommendations of horse owners who would be using the stalls.
“We will certainly review the proposal and how it will serve users,” Yelverton said.
Plans are to construct a barn with 100 stalls to support shows at the pavilion, a multi-events center that opened two years ago off U.S. 74 just outside of Lumberton. Supporters contend that the barn and stalls will boost the economic impact of the center’s pavilion by accommodating larger, multi-day horse shows.
Yelverton said about $108,000 is still needed for the $590,000 project as currently proposed. Robeson County commissioners recently found $67,000 to use for the stall construction in a $200,000 contingency fund that is part of its current budget.
The commissioners had already contributed $50,000 toward the stalls, with Lumberton having allocated up to $30,000 for materials used in site work, as well as providing no limit on labor and equipment to be used for site work. All money for the project must come from donations, Yelverton said, since the state has allocated no money for stall construction.
Yelverton said the City of Lumberton will be able to begin site work as soon as the design and layout of the proposed barn and stalls are complete.
“I hope at least the site work can begin within three months,” Yelverton said.
Sue Gray, executive director of the state Horse Council, said Friday she is “very excited”the stalls will soon become reality.”
“It’s going to happen. I feel strongly that the stalls are soon going to become reality,” Gray said. “The question now is when will it happen and not if it will happen,” she said.
The state Horse Council and state Horse Council Foundation have raised more than $400,000 in private donations toward the project.
Yelverton has said the pavilion has been “very successful ” during its first two years.
“There have been a lot of bookings,” he said. “Now the next step is to support the facility (with the barn and stalls ). More
people will be drawn and the economic impact will be substantially more. There will absolutely be a payback on this project.”