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Study favors equestrian theme, but urges caution

The plan to convert Enumclaw into a favored destination for the equestrian crowd has gained serious momentum in City Hall circles, but final acceptance of the plan awaits a look at the financial implications of such a move.

To learn if turning Enumclaw into the horse capital of the Pacific Northwest is economically feasible, the city hired Bellevue-based Hebert Research.

A final report is on the way, but Enumclaw Mayor John Wise received a preliminary report last week. When asked if the report contained good news or bad, Wise noted, “it was both.”

The bottom line, Wise said, is the report “supports the equestrian theme for the community.” There's a warning about moving too quickly, however.

The folks at Hebert contacted numerous equestrian organizations throughout the region, Wise said, asking key individuals if they would travel to Enumclaw if a top-notch facility existed.

Not all were 100 percent sold on a trek to the Plateau, Hebert concluded. The biggest concern was travel distance. Another issue was competition, as other cities are presently looking at development equestrian centers to meet the apparent demand.

The preliminary conclusion, Wise said, is that Enumclaw should start with small events and gradually work toward building the type of facilities that would accommodate larger events.

Wise said things will remain on hold until the final report is issued. At that time, he'll take the Hebert Research findings to the City Council. The council will have the final say and could elect to do several things, from embracing the equestrian theme wholeheartedly to rejecting the plan outright.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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