The Bureau of Land Management has extended the wait on its decision on the Environmental Assessment of the stables at the Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area in Lorton until the effects are known of the federal sequester on the Department of the Interior's budget. The Interior's Bureau of Land Management owns the barn, and the funds set aside for barn repair are being reviewed.
"Are those funds set aside or do they remain intact and inviolate for moving them for some other purpose?" said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland to Patch. "I hold my breath, because a good part of that money has been put in by people who have boarded their horses there."
Virginia Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th) is a member of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, and told Patch last May that he was worried the $800,000 in deferred maintenance funds from the Department of Interior for the project will be reallocated.
"I'm very concerned this could blow up," Moran said. "Interior's budget is more exposed than the Department of Defense. … Any place where cash isn't being spent is raided."
Moran and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) sent a joint letter to BLM last summer requesting that horses remain at the aging barn during its renovation, thereby allowing three horse-related businesses to remain intact. The letter was sent to the State Director of the Eastern States Office and asked BLM to scale back the scope of repairs in order to lessen the impact on the animals.
Hyland said that the fully-funded project should move forward. "Every agency is looking at where they are with sequestration and trying to figure out how they're going to manage when it occurs," he said. "But in this case, we have monies that have been held and set aside for a long time and I'm just hoping they are able maintain it in their existing fund balance to do what all of us want them to do."
BLM intends to conduct a public meeting when a decision on barn repair is made, but no date has been set.
Click here to read more from Patch's coverage of The Stables at Meadowood situation.