Horsemen’s Center closed as aging well again becomes inoperable (August 26, 2020)

Nearly two years after the Town of Apple Valley spent thousands of dollars to repair an aging well at Horsemen’s Center Park, it is once again inoperative and the park has been closed temporarily.

We have tried to keep this well going, but it has run its course and it will not be possible to service the park without water, Park and Recreation Manager David Coleman said in a statement Monday. A permanent replacement is necessary.

Coleman said the facility was shuttered Tuesday as the town looks to secure funding to drill and install a new well in a new location at the park located on Highway 18.

In response to community concerns, the town will make physical modifications to the park, including the installation of portable toilets, this week to reopen the facility for dry use, town spokesman Orlando Acevedo said.

Beginning Monday, the park will reopen for hikers, dry campers, BMX, equestrians, photographers and other daily users. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own drinking water to the park.

Each Wednesday, the park will be closed as the town fills a fleet vehicle with water from a nearby hydrant to water trees, and perform maintenance and repairs, Acevedo said.

Moore’s Water Hauling Service delivered water to the park on Aug. 9 and 23 after the well stopped working in July. A total of 40,700 gallons were delivered at a cost of $2,600, Acevedo said.

The hauler partially filled the 69,000 gallon Horsemen’s tank that is used for sanitation and irrigation, Acevedo said. This week, Town staff rented a 2,000-gallon water truck and filled it from a nearby hydrant, with a meter, to irrigate the trees. The vehicle rental cost for two days was $734. We utilized approximately 8,000 gallons.

On Wednesday, Public Works Manager Mike Molinari and his crew were at the center working on several projects, including ensuring that the park’s trees received water.

Molinari said the property is home to a variety of trees, including various pines, fruitless mulberry, cottonwood and eucalyptus.

A view of the water holding tank at Horsemen’s Center Park in Apple Valley on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. The tank will be filled and used to water vegetation until the park’s inoperative well is replaced.

Acevedo said the town does not have an estimated replacement cost for the well that is 250 feet deep with a water table measured earlier this year at 154 feet.

A new well is not funded in the current fiscal year and town management is exploring ways to fund the project. However, the fiscal impacts of rising costs to provide public services and law enforcement services, and reduced revenues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, do not offer us a quick solution, Acevedo said.

The Parks and Recreation budget is $3.38 million. The Town’s Parks and Recreation revenues include property tax revenues of $1.98 million and User/Aquatics fees of $1.01 million. Leaving a General Fund subsidy of nearly $400,000, Acevedo said.

Anticipating a $3.5 million budget shortfall, the town will ask residents in November whether to approve a local sales tax increase that town officials say will help bolster the general fund by an estimated $7 million.

Last month, Town Council voted unanimously to place the tax measure on the ballot. If approved by a majority of voters, it would raise the sales tax in Apple Valley from 7.75% to 8.75%.

As a general tax measure, the increased revenues could potentially be used to increase public safety, as well as enhance community services and address public infrastructure needs, while building reserves to respond to any future crises or temporary revenue impacts, town staff said.

The town inherited the park and the 46-year-old well from San Bernardino County in 2001. Over the last couple of years, the deteriorating well showed its age as Public Works and Parks crews tried to keep it operational.

In April 2018, sand infiltrated the well pump, causing a reduction in water flow used to serve the park’s irrigation and sanitation needs, Acevedo said.

At that time, Robertson said when a well produces large amounts of sand, you must abandon the well and drill a new well, or install a new, smaller well casing inside the existing one.

A new motor, pump, column pipe and wellhead were eventually installed, along with a new stainless-steel casing and gravel pack.

The well was inoperative for four months. During that time, the town spent nearly $35,000 in repairs and 121,000 gallons of water were hauled to the rural park.

The well was eventually came back online in August 2018. Robertson said the improvements likely extended the life of the well by five to 10 years, the Daily Press reported.

Source: Rene Ray De La Cruz, Daily Press