The future of barn at the Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area is in question. Using deferred maintenance funds, the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the structure has these options: redevelop the existing structure, tear it down and rebuild, or sell it as-is to a third party (a mandatory option).
The decision will determine much, including the fate of Meadowood's dwindling horse boarding program.
"My business right now is suffering," said Allison Mills, a government contractor who runs boarding operations at the barn. "I'm not an engineer. I know there are some issues at the barn for sure. But in terms of barns in the surrounding area… this barn is stellar."
Mills signed a contract last spring that says BLM can limit the number of privately-boardered horses at the barn at 15. The barn currently has 21 boarders (a horse died while Patch developed this video series) and a waiting list. The barn is also home to a riding lesson program and the Simple Changes Therapeutic Riding Center.
Some boarders, including Linda Lautenschlager, think BLM is trying to push out the boarding operation. "There are issues at the barn. The electrical is the biggest," she said. "But if this were not being considered as as a government property, this barn would be fine… I don't even think they want horses here."
E. Lynn Burkett is the Meadowood Station Manager. "I don't mind boarders being at the barn at all," she said on-camera. "I don't mind lessons being at the barn, I don't mind physical therapy at the barn. As far as wanting or not wanting them, that's not at issue. If it's a need in the community, if it's something that people want, sure they can be here."
Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland asked Fairfax County staff to assist in an evaluation of the barn last year. "With all the comments we've received…you're going to find a very common thread saying, 'Fix the barn.' The barn has been there a long time, but it's a solid structure," he said.
The Dec. 2010, report by the County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, said:
- "The barn is dusty and has poor ventilation"
- "Overall, the facility and grounds are in a functional condition."
- "Structures that fail under normal conditions and design loads usually do so as a result of three factors: inadequate design, poor construction and limited or no maintenance. There is evidence of all three factors in the Meadowood horse barn/arena."
A structural evaluation of the barn, commissioned by BLM, was released in April: "While the structure is not in immediate danger of collapse, the type and condition suggest that this facility is at the end of its useful design life, and major remediation is required to maintain it into the future," said the report. "Most existing shortcomings are due to water infiltration through the roof and walls."
BLM conducted a public hearing on the facility in June. To see the public comments, click here.