Equestrian building in race for completion

       Half a year later than originally planned, construction has begun on the new building that will be attached to the east end of the Norris-Penrose Event Center's Indoor Arena.

Workers with CMS Inc. were busy this week, assembling the pre-fabricated building that will serve as staging area and warm-up facility at the east end of the Indoor Arena. The main Norris-Penrose Event Center building can be seen in the background at mid-right.
Westside Pioneer photo

       That's none to soon for Johnny Walker, the center's general manager.
       The 120-by-120-foot structure is especially needed by the national Langer Equestrian Group, which is moving its Colorado hunter/jumper event site to Norris-Penrose… and its first competition there is Jan. 24-27.
       “I'm not getting any sleep,” Walker said, half-jokingly. “From what I've been told, the work will be finished in time, but we're cutting it real close.”
       Under the agreement between Langer and the nonprofit Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo Foundation (which owns Norris-Penrose), the 120-by-120-foot structure will serve as a warm-up facility and staging area for its events in the 300-by-120-foot Indoor Arena. Large doors will allow movement between the buildings.
       “There is no Plan B,” Walker said (referring to the idea of Langer getting by without the new space). “In a worst-case scenario, we'd have to cancel the show, but I don't think that's going to happen.”
       Even if some last-minute work is still needed - for instance, it's very possible the furnace lines will be getting connected during the event - Walker said he thinks it will be OK. The show itself is small by Langer standards, with 50 to 75 horses at most, and will really be serving as “sort of a kickoff to get everyone [with Langer] introduced to the facility,” Walker said. “I think they're going to be forgiving. They know we're altering the facility for them, and we'll try to provide a lot of customer service.”
       Langer will actually be there each of the following two weekends as well: Jan. 31-Feb. 3 and Feb. 7-10. Starting each day before 9 a.m. and lasting most of the day, all activities will be free and open to the public.
       According to website information, “hunter” events differ from “jumper” events in that the former includes judging of riding style while the latter is based purely on the success in clearing jumps.
       Norris-Penrose is at 1045 Lower Gold Camp Road.
       When the Langer agreement was announced about a year ago, the construction schedule had called for the warm-up building to be ready as early as May 2012. According to Walker, issues that arose included waiting for donations of dirt (about 400 truckloads were needed in all) to level the building site, engineering the drainage into Bear Creek and, most recently, learning that the soils under the planned building site (which a century ago stored gold mill tailings) were unstable.
       The latter issue led to the final delay - about three weeks into January, during which crews implemented what's called an “overdig,” Walker said, sinking concrete caissons 14 feet below the graded surface so that the site could pass inspection for a foundation to be poured.
       Midway through this week, crews with the Pikes Peak or Bust Foun-dation's contractor (CMS Inc.) were installing the metal frame of the building. The structure is being assembled from a prefabricated kit, with the pieces having been trucked to Norris-Penrose some weeks ago, Walker said.
       Other work related to the Langer agreement was accomplished in the past year. The center's open-air Lower Show Arena, which is a short distance south of the Indoor Arena, has been expanded in length and width to accommodate the group's hunter/ jumper needs. Also, its subsurface has been replaced with road base, in preparation for layers of crusher fines topped with masonry sand (200 tons of each) that Langer will provide, Walker said.
       The result will be a surface that allows a “non-slick yet cushiony takeoff and landing” as well as improved drainage to avoid “puddling or bogs in the middle of the arena,” he explained.
       Still to come are two outdoor rings that will be built just northeast of the Indoor Arena (one for hunter-jumper show judging, another for warm-up).
       In the agreement with Langer, the income to the foundation and Norris-Penrose will result from a share of hunter/jumper entrance fees. Meanwhile, the community will benefit from competitors' spending money at local hotels, restaurants and stores, according to Walker.
       Other entities will also be able to rent the building. A barrel-racing winter series would have used it for staging had it had been done by this weekend, he said, and others in the future will include cutting- horse events (for cattle holding and warm-up) and home and garden shows (for the extra space).

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