‘They’re a sanctuary’: Palatine Stables supporters rally to protest park board decision

Supporters of the Palatine Stables rallied their troops both before and during Monday’s Palatine park board meeting, hoping to spur the board to change its decision to close the facility.

Commissioners listened to public comment, but the board did not back down on its May 13 decision to close the stables by the end of the summer.

  Citing the high cost of needed repairs and upkeep, the Palatine Park District intends to close its Palatine Stables this fall. Brian Hill/

Prior to the board meeting, dozens of advocates gathered in front of Palatine Village Hall, chanting “Save our stables.” Participants in the rally included mini therapy horses from the SOUL Harbour Ranch animal therapy program.

Many supporters spoke passionately during the meeting, urging commissioners to change the nearly unanimous decision — Commissioner Sue Gould cast the only no vote.

Speakers included Palatine resident Jamie Berger, who said more than 5,000 concerned citizens had signed a petition in support of keeping the stables open.

“For many, the stables are not just a place to board their horses,” she said. “They’re a sanctuary, a refuge from the stress of daily life. They’re where families come together to bond over a shared love for animals, where children learn the value of hard work and responsibilities, and where friendships are forged to span generations.”

  Supporters of the Palatine Stables rally outside of Palatine village hall Monday before the Palatine park board’s meeting. Steve Zalusky/

Mick and Diane Ross spoke about the benefits the stables have provided their 37-year-old daughter Lindsey, who has a severe neurological disorder and has been riding there for the past 25 years.

“Riding has helped give her back a part of her life that her disability has taken away. There is no doctor, therapist or researcher that has done more for Lindsey than Palatine Stables,” Mick Ross said.

  Addie Berger of Palatine and Lynn Greifer of Inverness, who is with SOUL Harbour Ranch, stand with Faith, one of the mini therapy horses at the rally to oppose the closing of the Palatine Stables. Steve Zalusky/

Palatine Park District Executive Director Ben Rea said Monday prior to the meeting that a structural engineer determined that several support posts needed to be replaced at the stables, located near Northwest Highway and Dundee Road. In addition, he said, the district would have needed money to replace roofs and bring the facility, which the district bought in the late 1980s, up to code.

“We were looking at $2.6 million,” he said.

  Citing the high cost of needed repairs and upkeep, the Palatine Park District intends to close its Palatine Stables this fall. Brian Hill/, May 2024

Michael Hoffman, a contractor whose daughter is a student at the stables, disputed the price tag, based on his reading of the structural engineering report. He pointed out that only 13 posts were identified as needing repair, while price estimates presented to the board included the repair of 313 posts.

  Mick and Diane Ross spoke before the Palatine park board Monday to protest the closing of the Palatine Stables. Steve Zalusky/

Several speakers blasted the board for voting without public input.

‘This wasn't a decision that was made lightly,“ Rea said. ”We saw a liability that was out there potentially to patrons, staff and animals. Once we knew we had a potential risk and problem, we wanted to get it before our board as quickly as we could.”

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