Money's Short, But Florida Horse Park Still Possible

There's less money on the table, but Marion County, Fla., officials remain hopeful the Florida Agricultural Center and Horse Park can be built.

A request from the Horse Park Authority for $3 million from the Florida legislature has been reduced to $750,000 in the Senate's budget, and $1 million in the House's budget.

"There has been a lot of support from the private sector for equestrian activities at the proposed horse park," said John Kurtz, chairman of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce and the Horse Park Authority.
Matching funds for the proposed park can be obtained by charitable contributions from corporations or the private sector. The amount of money to be allocated will be clearly defined when the state budget is finalized in May.

The Marion County Commission voted 3-2 in January to allocate $3 million from its Pennies for Parks program, which was contingent on the state providing matching funds, Marion County commissioner Steve Henning said.

"The horse park proposal is still a viable and active motion," Henning said.

The project has been in the planning stages for more than 11 years. "The horse park has garnered a lot of support, and there are many advocates for the project, including state representatives based in Marion County," Henning said.