LOVINGTON — Lea County Commission members officially pulled the plug on a proposed $5.75 million indoor equine center Thursday.
The facility, to have been constructed at the New Mexico Junior College on land the college contributed to the county, hit a snag in 2016 when construction bids came in $3-4 million over the estimated cost.
At NMJC’s request, the commission returned the land to the college by resolution Thursday.
Former commission chairman and strong supporter of the project Ron Black acknowledged the current financial situation made the decision to cancel the project a logical conclusion.
“I’m disappointed because I thought it would be a quality of life project and an economic development thing, … but I think with the economy like it is, I think the project was dead long before this,” Black said.
A longtime member of the NMJC board of directors, Black said the college will use the land and the building on it just not to the extent an equine center would have been.
“I’m not surprised. That’s the decision they made and it’s probably the best decision the way things are right now,” Black concluded.
The county’s resolution dates the equine center project to February 2015 when the county and NMJC entered into an agreement for the construction, operation and joint use of the facility.
In February 2017, the county extended the agreement for three years in hopes of finding the funds for the project.
“(M)ore than three years has passed since the extension of time,” the current resolution states, “(and) no further progress has occurred in the planning of an indoor equine center.”
Commissioners voted unanimously to return the property to the college.
In other business Thursday, the commissioners proceeded with early preparations for next year’s Lea County Fair and PRCA Rodeo, having cancelled the 2020 version of the event.
Approved were second options to renew agreements for the 2021 fair and rodeo with two contractors that had been scheduled to provide support to this year’s event.
Epicenter Productions LLC will provide professional sound and production services at a contracted cost of $156,863. Linda Brown & Associates will continue as the entertainment booking agency for concerts next year at a contracted cost of $45,000.