Vienna aldermen suggest changes to horse arena contract

By Colin Willard, Staff Writer
Posted 11/15/23

VIENNA — City Attorney Ross Bush met with the Vienna City Council during its Nov. 6 meeting to discuss the draft of the horse arena agreement that he made at the council’s request.

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Vienna aldermen suggest changes to horse arena contract


VIENNA — City Attorney Ross Bush met with the Vienna City Council during its Nov. 6 meeting to discuss the draft of the horse arena agreement that he made at the council’s request.

During the last couple of meetings, city officials and employees have discussed issues with the way people were using the horse arena at Vienna City Park. Problems included trash, broken hydrants,  people leaving lights on and animals left at the arena unsupervised overnight — or without water and shade. Some people had stolen locks.

At the October meeting, the council outlined requests for the agreement including rules about locking the arena and leaving animals there overnight. Other points included the length of key rentals and deposits for keys and trash pickup. The key to the electrical box would come at an additional deposit.

Bush said at the Nov. 6 meeting that he added language to the agreement that would try to limit some of the city’s responsibility for what happens at the horse arena while it is under rental. Although the city could not totally eliminate its responsibility, he said it would give renters notice that the city would look to them first to assist anyone who had been harmed by something that happened while they had the arena under lease.

Another aspect of the contract would allow the city to pursue a lawsuit in small claims court. The draft also includes language about attorney fees, which would leave open the possibility for the city to collect them from a renter if an issue would result in a lawsuit.

Bush recommended that the minimum deposit for use of the horse arena be enough to cover the cost of replacing keys and locks. If the amount got into the hundreds of dollars, then it might not be worth it to set the deposit that high. He asked Utilities Superintendent Shon Westart if he knew how much that would cost.

Westart said he did not know an exact number, but the last set the city bought was “costly” because they were specially made. City representatives must sign off before someone makes a copy of the key.

Bush said he was unsure if the aldermen wanted rental terms of exactly seven days or up to seven days, so he could make it either way in the final draft.

South Ward Alderman Chuck Davis asked if the aldermen had decided on a length of time for rentals.

North Ward Alderman Rita Juergens said she thought they had decided on a period of up to seven days. Chuck Davis agreed.

Bush said he would update the draft to reflect that.

“I think that the agreement would cover most of the salient points that have been discussed at the city council meeting,” he said.

Bush added that if any officials had additional input on the contract, he would take that into consideration in the final draft. He estimated the final draft will be ready for a vote at the next meeting scheduled for Dec. 4.

City Clerk Karen Dudenhoeffer said she had recommended a change to the part of the draft that addressed money for post-rental cleanup. The draft said the city could charge $50 per hour if it had to clean the horse arena. Dudenhoeffer suggested changing that to “up to” $50 per hour depending on the amount of damage.

The aldermen agreed with the change.

Chuck Davis asked if the aldermen had come to an agreement on a deposit price. They had not settled on an amount at the last meeting.

Dudenhoeffer said the deposit for coaches to use the ballfield at the park is $150. Bush said he used the ballfield agreement as a reference when drafting the horse arena contract.

Chuck Davis asked if $150 would be enough to cover lock and key replacements.

Westart suggested waiting until he had more information on pricing to decide on a deposit amount.

“I would like to operate on the assumption most people are going to be responsible,” Chuck Davis said. “We have to cover ourselves, too. That’s why I think we do have to charge a deposit.”

“I think the deposit should be $100 to $150,” Juergens said.

Westart said coaches seem more adamant about returning their keys because of the higher deposit amount.

“That’s what we want,” Juergens said. “We want them to be conscious of what’s going on and to take care of it.”

Mayor Tim Schell asked the aldermen if they would like to set the deposit amount at $150. They agreed with the amount.

Bush said he would include the $150 deposit in the final draft for a vote at the next meeting.