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Council approves EIR for El Caballo Park

ESCONDIDO — The proposed 20-acre equestrian El Caballo Park is one step closer to becoming a reality. On June 18, the Escondido City Council approved the use of $40,000 for an Environmental Impact Report during the 2014-15 fiscal year. The report will make it possible to begin building the park, located across from the Caballo Trail Head at 3410 Valley Center Road, once enough money has been raised.

“It is not a true project until the EIR is completed,” said Library and Community Services Director Loretta McKinney.

The city approved the budgeting for the report as part of the 2014-15 fiscal year in order to set into motion the process of creating the park.

The piece of land has been the subject of debate between the city and residents since 2011, when the city originally planned to use the recreational space as a water treatment and distribution facility. The city planned to build on the site but the Council decided not to after learning the site would cost $6 million to develop.

The project still has a long way to go until it is completed. The fundraising for the park will be in the hands of the community, said McKinney.

The nonprofit group El Caballo Conservancy was established in March 2013 to help develop the land as a unique public park focused on equestrian services, according to their website. They are asking the community for donations to raise enough money to build on the site. The city funded the drafting of a master plan for the park by Wynn-Smith Landscape Architecture, Inc.

The estimated cost of the park is $10 million. The park will be built in phases so building can begin earlier than the entire funding is raised. The plan includes arenas, bull corrals, pens, bleachers, a bandstand and more.

The land has been in use for over four decades by the Charros de Escondido, who lease it from the city and built an arena on the property.

The Conservancy is celebrating their accomplishments July 27 on the site of the proposed future park near the Escondido Humane Society off of East Valley Parkway at Bevin Drive. The event, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. will feature pony rides, horsemanship demonstrations, equine therapy, entertainment and a food truck.

This post has been updated for accuracy. The original post stated the proposed park was eight acres.