County seeks Sunset Farm operator

Published on Thu, Mar 27, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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County seeks Sunset Farm operator

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

The Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department is seeking individuals to help operate and manage the 69-acre Sunset Farm Equestrian Park in Birch Bay. Director Roger DeSpain said the department is accepting proposals from parties interested in managing the facilities, which include a farmhouse, garage/shop, horse stable and barn, trail, and jumping station.

The farm was taken over by the county parks and recreation department in late 1993, with the intent of keeping the farm equestrian-based, and making it available to the public.

�Kay Lowry is the one who originally owned this property and she wanted this farm to continue to always be a horse facility for the residents of Whatcom County,� DeSpain said.

Lowry donated half the value of the $1 million property to the parks and recreation department, and in turn they applied for and received a grant for $500,000 to cover the other half. �So that�s why we continue to name it the Sunset Equestrian Park,� DeSpain said.

According to DeSpain, equestrian residents were asked in the past to adopt the park and help manage it, but it didn�t work out. �They did a good job for the first couple of years, but they weren�t able to put in the time that was required,� he said. �So we in turn then just rented out the house and let people know that they can bring their horses here and ride.�

The department is currently renovating the farmhouse and is hoping the individual chosen to run the facility will live there. The farmhouse was being rented for $660 a month.

�We want someone to make money, as well as the department,� DeSpain said. �We want this to succeed.�

A March 21 meeting was held at the park to allow interested parties to take a tour and ask questions; however, only two local residents showed. Neither of whom intended to file a proposal.

Deirdre Scanlan, a local horsewoman, said she would like to see the farm be the central point in the county for horse activities. �It would be great to see this place actualize its potential with a big indoor arena,� she said. �There is enough room for a cow pen and things like that.�

Other ideas discussed included horse boarding for people crossing the border, an auction block, horse shows, and equestrian workshops.

DeSpain said there were no proposals filed as of the meeting time; however, the department will continue to look for interested parties.

The proposal deadline is this Friday at 2:30 p.m. For more information, call Lynne Givler, Parks Operation Manager, at 733-2900.

DeSpain to retire
After 27 years of work with the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Department, director Roger DeSpain is retiring. His last day is Friday, March 28. �It�s been a great time,� he said. �I�ve worked with a lot of good people.�