Tag Archives: Vernonia Ridge Riders

City and Ridge Riders Reach Agreement for Arena Use

The Vernonia City Council negotiated and approved a Settlement Agreement and a Memorandum of Agreement with the Vernonia Ridge Riders equestrian group  for use of the Equestrian Arena at Anderson Park.

Council is awaiting final approval from the Ridge Riders legal representative, but  both parties have agreed in principle to the terms of both agreements.

The Settlement Agreement concerns the dispute between the two parties over the validity of the most recent lease from August 2006 which has regulated use of the site.

The Settlement Agreement document mutually rescinds the 2006 lease and all prior agreements between the parties.  It also dismisses all claims in the matter that were scheduled to be heard in Columbia County Circuit Court. In addition, the Settlement Agreement states that use of Anderson Park Equestrian Arena will now be governed by the new Memorandum of Agreement between the two parties.

The new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)  calls for the Ridge Riders to receive twelve  days of use at the arena per calendar year which begins February 1. Scheduled clean-up, preparation and maintenance days are exempt.  The Ridge Riders will also have two “community benefit days” per calendar year.  All other days of use will be subject to general equestrian permit and fees adopted by the City Council.   Read More

City and Ridge Riders Heading for Trial Over Lease

The question of whether there is a valid  lease for use of the horse arena at Anderson Park  between the City of Vernonia and the Vernonia Ridge Riders equestrian group looks like it may be  heading to a court trial.

A recent decision by Judge Ted Grove on October 24, 2014 granted a motion by the Ridge Riders to set aside a previously entered judgment in favor of the City which ruled the lease invalid. According to City Attorney Ruben Cleaveland, this order did not provide any ruling or opinion of the court as to the validity of the lease, but is a small procedural decision that allows the Vernonia Ridge Riders the opportunity to move forward with litigation  regarding the validity of the lease.

A motion to award  attorney fees to the Ridge Riders was denied as part of the same order by Judge Grove.

There are numerous questions concerning the lease which governs the use and maintenance of the Anderson Park Horse Arena.  The dispute between the City of Vernonia, who owns the property, and the Ridge Riders, which has leased the arena and significantly improved the property, dates back to 2010.  At that time the City told the Ridge Riders that the written lease between the parties was not valid.  The two parties have been unable to resolve the dispute since that time.  The Ridge Riders have sued the City and the City has counter sued the Ridge Riders.  Following Judge Grove’s ruling, the issue remains unresolved. RidgeRidersArena-Color-web

In the latest chapter of the ongoing dispute, the Vernonia City Council met in an Executive Session on April 7, 2014, and upon returning to regular session, revealed that a court judgement had been handed down in favor of the City determining that the lease the Ridge Riders have been operating under was not valid.

Ridge Rider President Rick Gardner says the decision in April was made without any input from the Ridge Riders legal counsel.

Judge Grove’s decision on October 24, overturned that prior decision, setting the stage for a either a trial or some kind of mutual agreement between the two parties.

Judge Grove granted a ninety-day period, until February 2, 2015  for the parties to conduct discovery regarding the validity of the lease.  Following the ninety days the parties are scheduled to appear in court at a pre-trial conference to determine trial readiness and hear any motions filed in the case.  At that point, according to City Attorney Cleavelend, the court will begin the process of settling whether the Ridge Riders have a valid lease. Read More