The Bureau of Land Management decided April 10 to renovate a Lorton equestrian facility it owns, capping a process that has been ongoing since 2011.
The barn at Meadowood Stables, on the Mason Neck peninsula, needs to be upgraded to meet current structural, electrical, plumbing and accessibility standards for federal facilities, according to BLM documents.
The agency will renovate the barn in a manner that allows it to stay partially open during the renovations, protecting the private businesses that operate there. A private company manages boarding and private lessons at the facility and a nonprofit called Simple Changes provides therapeutic riding lessons for people with disabilities at Meadowood.
“The barn definitely needs to be renovated, so we are happy about that,” said Corliss Wallingford, excutive director of Simple Changes.
The upgrades will be of particular help to the individuals with disabilities that Simple Changes serves.
“Obviously we want to operate out of a safe facility,” Wallingford said.
Other alternatives the BLM considered were demolishing the barn and building a new one in its place, demolishing the barn and discontinuing the boarding operations there, or doing nothing.
Without repair, “the condition of the Meadowood barn would continue to decline and become less functional over time,” according to BLM documents. “Existing hazards and functional deficiencies would become increasingly expensive to mitigate and the barn would eventually be forced to close.”
During the lengthy environmental assessment process, the agency received hundreds of comments from members of the equestrian community about preserving the barn and not displacing the businesses that use it.
In the end, BLM officials decided to make some renovations to the barn.
“This was the only opportunity to repair Meadowood Stables, otherwise it would have been shuttered due to the cost,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-11th), who helped facilitate dialogue between community leaders and the BLM.
Repairs to the facility include making structural repairs to support columns, replacing electrical wiring, adding a fire detection system, installing an accessible bathroom and making some repairs to the roof structure, although the roof will not be replaced. The project will also improve drainage for the horse wash stalls and add a new mechanical room.
The project will be paid for from a federal building maintenance fund.