Letter to the Editor: Support sought for new business in Madrid

Citizens of Madrid, Nebraska, Perkins County, and surrounding area:

First, we would like to express our excitement at the prospect of realizing a dream we have had for a long time; offering a public venue, i.e. an indoor/outdoor arena, to be used primarily as a learning/practice center for anyone who wants to further their knowledge, not only in equine events, but for other aspects of agriculture and community betterment projects.

We have both been lifelong ranchers and competitors starting with 4-H, junior high, high school, college and amateur rodeo. These experiences not only allowed us to develop skills we would like to impart to others, but also gave us the opportunity to meet many others who are experts in their chosen field who also have a desire to share what they have learned throughout their careers.

Some of the things we visualize are nightly practice sessions which would include calf, team and breakaway roping, with live cattle and a sled, cutting/cow horse practice, with live cattle and a mechanical Pro-Cutter with remote, barrels, poles and junior and senior rodeo events. During the day, we would like to offer individual riding slots for people to practice, train, or just ride their horses inside, or outside for that matter. 

As often as possible, we would like to have clinicians offer schools of interest to people all over the Tri-State Area that makes the Madrid location so convenient. That convenience is also a positive when using the facility to host farriers, equine chiropractors, etc. in a climate controlled work space. 

Besides the arena, the large shop building would certainly be ideal for meetings, vocational/technical classes, or just a place to have coffee in the morning to discuss the weather. Since an event of any size would also require a concession stand, we thought that 4-H, FFA, or other groups might like to use that opportunity to make some money.

While we have many ideas we would like to pursue, we also would like to have a week-long open house, where people could come browse around and share their ideas about what they would like to see their community play host to. We would also like to use as many of the local resources as possible when updating the property and installing features such as indoor and outdoor arena lights, drainage systems, insulation and hopefully enclosed stalls and a leanto incorporated into the existing building.

To clarify what might have caused some confusion, we originally thought the football field and track area would be a place for parking if we had events that would draw people with large trailers. However, after visiting the property a second time after the wet spring, we realized the area was not suitable because of its tendency to get soggy. 

We decided the best use would be to use it as pasture and funnel traffic closer to the west side of the arena on higher, less productive ground. To realize this change in plans required that we petition the City of Madrid to change the classification from city to agriculture so we would be able to pasture our horses or roping cattle close to the arena so that they would be available as needed.

While we know that some might have some reservations about what we are proposing, we are hoping to be able to meet the residents and offer an alternative place to grow, have fun and learn what a lifetime of agriculture and equines have given us; responsibility, knowledge, and above all, lasting friendships.

We want the arena to be a community asset where friends and neighbors could gather and have fun, with an additional benefit to the rest of the town in increased activity for their businesses. 

All of the above was to be presented to the City of Madrid Council at their monthly meeting to explain what our goals were for the property and to request that the portion of the former football field that is designated as “city limits” be rezoned to provide the extra space we would need, in addition to the 25 acres that belong to the arena, for the livestock required to host the practice nights and events that we envisioned for the facility. 

While we were not present at the meeting, we understood a majority of those attending were on board with the idea. We also understand there is some opposition to our project. Despite that, we have decided to pursue the purchase of both properties.

It was only last week that we were informed that the city councils in the entire state had final say on the number of livestock that could be housed within a mile of the city limits, and that the number of livestock that we would need to provide the services we envisioned and outlined from the beginning, exceeded the expectations of the council and the dissenting parties. 

Since the numbers of livestock they foresaw and the number that we need are not the same, we have asked for a special meeting of the Madrid City Council to try to allay fears that we would be detrimental to the city if we continue with our proposed purchase and use of the arena. 

Due to our desire to be entirely up-front and realistic about what we see as necessary to conduct business, we have estimated that the following number of livestock could be on the premises at any given time: 

1) 10-50 head of roping steers, depending on if they were practice cattle who would be there all the time, or 50 head or more temporarily if an event such as a team roping jackpot was taking place. 

2) 5-10 head of Calf Roping or Breakaway Roping calves, again, depending on the use. 

3) 20-30 head of horses on a continual basis, or an undetermined number of participants’ horses if we were having a clinic or jackpot. 

4) Miscellaneous animals if our schedule included goat tying, or cattle clinics or shows. 

5) Cutting, sorting, or penning competitions, depending on the number of competitors, could require us to temporarily house up to 150 yearlings. 

6) And finally, we raise and sell horses. It is partly how we make a living and will take a more predominant role in our cash flow since we have retired from the ranch. One of the attractions of the Madrid Arena was the number of individual runs that could be used to fit horses for sale.

An additional complication is the rule that requires a 1031 exchange that we are negotiating, requiring that we purchase an income producing property, not just a private home, so the Arena must be operated as such, which again, requires livestock.

Change Is Hard. And it’s scary. And to have people who no one knows move into a community and start a business, no matter what the motives are, generates many emotions and reactions. We suspect that the uncertainty of having the number of animals that are required to successfully run a community Indoor/Outdoor Arena Facility is concerning for many reasons, including traffic, noise, insects, smell, etc. We can only guarantee that we will do our best to mitigate all of the above in the best way we know how and try to be a great neighbor. 

Possibly a bigger concern for some people is our desire to purchase the adjoining land that is the now the defunct Madrid football field and track and use it for grazing. Losing a school is a blow to an entire community. Nostalgia for what was generally clouds the reality of what is. 

To go from an empty, unused lot to a field of green with healthy, happy horses grazing and playing would most certainly soften the hardest hearts and minds that are set against this project, if they would only give it a chance.

Bottom Line, we would like to be a part of this community. Joe’s son and his family live in Ogallala. Our son, Tyler, would like to move to Madrid with us and help with other family businesses of custom fencing and small trenching jobs and my hobby of renovating houses. 

We would like to add some cabins for customers, hunters, tourists, etc. to stay in, and again hopefully generate more business for Madrid and the surrounding area. 

However, we do not want to move into an area that is not 100 percent behind this project, because as the saying goes, “It Takes A Village.”

We do have a website, www.finneyquarterhorses.com, that is available if you would like to find out more about us. We hope that anyone who is interested in this endeavor will come to the special Madrid City Council Meeting on Monday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m., and share your concerns or support, for the addition of a functioning, public Indoor/Outdoor Arena Facility in Madrid, Neb. 

A 1031 Exchange does have severe time limitations so while not wanting to force a snap decision, we will need to know the city’s decision immediately and hope the support of the residents of Perkins County will help them decide if our plans coincide with the good of the community.

We hope to be a part of your community in the very near future.  

-Diane and Joe Finney, Tyler Kruse

The Grant Tribune-Sentinel

308-352-4311 (Phone)
308-352-4101 (Fax)

PO Box 67
327 Central Ave in Grant
Grant NE 69140