Hold your horses: Park district taking another look at Palatine Stables

In the wake of public outcry over the impending closure of its Palatine Stables, the Palatine Park District is expanding its initial review of the facility’s conditions.

However, park district Executive Director Ben Rea said that does not mean officials are changing their decision to close the stables at the end of the summer.

Instead, the district is having the structural engineering firm that conducted an earlier assessment of the facility’s arenas and horse pens perform a broader examination.

Initially, Wheaton-based Johnson Wilbur Adams inspected a random selection of 30 posts and found 13 of them to be either completely rotten or almost rotted through, Rea said. Now the firm will examine all 313 support posts in two barns on the site.

“We appreciated the public comment that we heard, and in the interest of just listening to the crowd that was there and respecting them, we felt this was in the best interest to have this additional inspection done,” Rea said.

The inspection may take a few weeks to complete to minimize disruption of stable operations. A report will be shared on the district’s website.

The Palatine Park District voted last month to close its Palatine Stables. Now, after public outcry, it is having an engineering firm take a broader look at the conditions of the facility. Courtesy of the Palatine Park District

After the release of the report, the park board may hold a meeting to continue the discussion.

The park board voted May 13 to close the stables, located near Northwest Highway and Dundee Road, citing the need for more than $2.6 million in repairs and enhancements. The move sparked outrage from users and supporters of the facility.

Dozens of people rallied in front of Palatine village hall before the park board’s meeting Monday. The group then filled the conference room and adjacent hallway during the panels’ meeting.

Many complained that the board rushed its May 13 decision without hearing from the public.

The only parks commissioner to vote against the closure, Sue Gould, said she was “blindsided by this motion being on the agenda.”

“Nothing had indicated to me that we were thinking of closing it,” she added.

Gould spoke emotionally in favor of the stables at the May 13 meeting. She recalled how a disabled teenager benefited from a riding program.

“The only time he could straighten his legs was when he was on a horse,” she said.

The stables were built in the 1950s and purchased by the park district in the late 1980s. They host programming and house 61 horses — 36 owned by the park district and 25 privately owned.

Rea said the park district will continue to own the site and seek proposals for a new comprehensive master plan for it. The assessment will help determine its future use, he said.

The Palatine Stables is home to 61 horses — 36 owned by the Palatine Park District, and 25 privately owned. Courtesy of the Palatine Park District
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