Arrows of Hope seeks greener pastures
Though Samantha MacDonald and Valerie Teeters had high hopes of restoring the Mt. Hood Equestrian Center to its former glory, the duo has announced an unexpected change of plans.
MacDonald grew up right down the road from the Equestrian Center, 29450 S.E. Lariat Road, Boring, and has always loved horses. Teeters' children had a similar upbringing, and she had hoped to create that again for her grandchildren.
In the spirit of community, MacDonald and Teeters planned to make Mt. Hood Equestrian Center a community-owned facility, kind of like a 200-stall co-op for the horse community.
But with unexpectedly steep lease payments required by the new property owner, MacDonald and Teeters say they had no choice but to walk away.
Now, the idea of establishing an arena and horse-boarding facility in Boring remains, but the foundation is searching for an alternate location.
Selling the farm
Over the past four years, the property passed through several hands before being sold to Boring resident Todd Siverston in 2014. Siverston had similar aspirations of reopening the stables for use, but because of costly structural problems, he ended up opening the property for lease as a marijuana grow opertion — a decision, which led to contention in the community and a lawsuit that is still ongoing.
Siverston sold the property in July, after vacating it of marijuana operations, to California businessman Dean Najdawi, who intended to lease the property to MacDonald and Teeters for their equine endeavors.
Najdawi was unavailable to comment.
Though MacDonald and Teeters had hopes of owning the center themselves and had put up a competing bid on the property, they were open to working out an agreement with Najdawi. In-kind donations of labor and materials thad been offered for renovations of the space, but the women didn't want to commit those gifts until they had a long term agreement for use of the property.
"We're not comfortable having the community support this if there's no guarantee," MacDonald told The Post in June. "We're not going to ask people to (invest in) the property if we cannot purchase the property or get a long-term lease. Our leasing is definitely subject to the terms of the lease. We have to make sure we protect the people supporting us."
Lease left on the table
After months of negotiations over lease conditions, MacDonald rejcted the lease proposal, saying Najdawi was asking for too much money.
"When we started this, we made a commitment to the people that we were going to be fiscally responsible," MacDonald said. With Najdawi asking for a monthly rent of $50,000, MacDonald said, she didn't feel the agreement would be good for the center — or even possible for the foundation to sustain.
"No one can make that there," she added. So far, aside from in-kind offers, the foundation has raised $220 in donations. This money, since it won't be going to it's initially intended destination, has been doled out to local nonprofit efforts Sound Equine Options and Arabian Horse Rescue & Education, Inc.
"We have enough people we could have a show in there every weekend for nine months," MacDonald said. "That's how big the need is in our community."
But, even with that business, MacDonald doesn't think $50,000 is a realistic income, let alone expense, for the center.
"It is amazing how much people want this," she noted. "Our hope is that (Najdawi) would be willing to allow us to run some shows in there (in the meantime).
"We're holding out hope for that while moving forward. In order for the foundation to succeed, we feel we need to be transparent. We want to limit the risk to the community of their hard-earned money and work. I, as the president of the foundation, have to be financially responsible to the community," she added.
That desire from the community is what pushes MacDonald forward in her search for a new venue. At this point, that search continues with no real leads.