Dana Stewart currently boards her 7-year-old retired race horse on a property in Grove City.
She said she hopes to eventually board her horse and about a dozen others at a property on Woodland Avenue in Columbus.
Stewart is executive director of Capital City Equestrian, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using horses for education, therapy and recreation for children.
Stewart has a plan to turn an old cabinet manufacturing facility into an inner city equine center. Capital City Equestrian is currently leasing the property and is awaiting approval of its plan by the Columbus Board of Public Health.
Stewart believes it makes perfect sense to locate the facility in the city where it will be accessible to inner-city youth.
“Keep youth off the street, give them something constructive to spend their time, learning and building self esteem,” she said.
Some of her neighbors, though, are not convinced.
James Whitehead is one of about a half dozen homeowners with signs in their front yard opposing the plan.
“How are you going to bring farm animals into a residential district?” Whitehead asked. “The smell – you can’t contain that smell and horseflies and stuff like that.”
Rashid Alsabur lives a few doors down the street. He insists it’s not simply a case of ‘not in my backyard’. “
I would think there would be a place more suitable with land, (and the) environment would be a lot better than in the middle of a neighborhood.”
Stewart says she has addressed all of the environmental concerns. She promises she can run a clean facility that does not smell. And, she says, she’s adamant about putting the facility in the city.
“There are other programs that are in the outskirts, but having a family of minimum means to get there eliminates their opportunity to use that. And this is accessible,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s proposal is pending before the Columbus Board of Health.