MARYSVILLE – Dale Squeglia must feel like she’s been thrown off a horse.
Squeglia, executive director of the nonprofit All Breed Equine Rez-Q, said she found out on social media that the Marysville School District is going to sell the property that has been used for 20 years to take care of abused and unwanted horses.
“I am sick over this whole thing,” she said, adding someone from the district office confirmed what she had seen on Facebook.
Emily Wicks, a district spokeswoman, said the district is planning to sell surplus property that it has decided against using for educational purposes. “No one has been asked to vacate the property,” she wrote in an email. “This is in the very beginning stages.”
Squeglia said: “It’s awful, just awful. There was no warning at all.”
However, Wicks said, “We care about our tenants and will work closely with them, communicate regularly and provide ample notice when we intend to begin the sales process.”
Squeglia said the property will be put on the market this spring. She said they could never afford to buy the land. “They are going to want a lot of money for it,” she said, adding it’s in a prime location.
“What are we going to do?” she asked. “I’m telling the public we have to move at the last minute.”
Jeanie Esajian of the Rez-Q said Wednesday there are two options.
•Hope that someone steps forward and donates property already set up for horses, such as a riding stable or horse farm. “If it was in the general vicinity, we could continue to serve the community that we have been a part of for nearly 20 years,” Squeglia said.
•Develop 62 acres of land donated to All Breed that is undeveloped with only an interior road, a well and power. Everything else would have to be constructed, including fences, barns, volunteer staff housing, etc.
“Option Two was on a slow track until we found out about losing our current location,” Squeglia said. “Now, pending another surprise – like Option One – we feel our backs are against the proverbial wall and we need to seriously speed up development of this land.”
A rough estimate of the cost to develop the property based is $150,000. That would buy up to a six-stall barn, 20 fenced paddocks with enclosed stalls, a hay storage structure, a garage/shop building and a mobile home for volunteer staff. Squeglia, who is on disability, relies on the public for financing for the Rez-Q.
“I am so devastated,” she said. “We just took in three ponies because their owner passed away. I cried for two days. Spring is not that far away.” Squeglia said she received $40,000 from the public in a recent fundraising request to help pay for the horses care until spring. Now, she has to go back to them to try to raise $150,000 to move the Rez-Q.
Esajian hopes they can find something locally so they don’t have to move.
Option Two “was a fallback. It was not really on our front burner. It’s a big deal to move – especially with so many moving parts on four legs,” Esajian said.
Squeglia said someday the Onalaska site would be a great future. Its current location is always wet, and the nonprofit can’t afford to fix that. The new site is beautiful and dry, she added. On the new property she hopes to build 12-by-12 foot outbuildings with individual turnout areas, so the horses can get out in the day and come in at night. “They can come and go as they please,” she said.
Also, the Rez-Q owns the new property. “It never can be taken out from under us again,” she said. “The horses will have a place forever.”
Squeglia said she should have known something was up. The school district normally has signed a one-year lease with her. But recently it changed to month to month.
Wicks said in her email that the district wants to be good stewards of taxpayer money.
“We have been evaluating our unused property and its potential for funding facility and capital improvements at schools where our students will benefit,” she wrote.
Squeglia said she just feels sick about the many volunteers who helped fix up the Rez-Q the past few months. Not only was that a waste of their precious time, it also was a waste of precious money.
“All that money could have been saved” instead of being spent on painting, repairing stall walls and the grandstand, and rebuilding fencing. “Everything was coming into place and look what happens,” she said.
Squeglia said it is the Christmas season so, “If we can just make a miracle happen. I hope and pray hard that people will help us make it happen.”