The Atlantic Riding Center for Health, which for more than two decades has provided therapeutic riding lessons in Egg Harbor Township, has been sold to a private owner.
Word of the potential sale first spread in July after the center’s board of trustees put the 13-acre facility up for sale through one board member’s real estate agency. The listing prompted an outpouring of opposition from instructors, riders and volunteers.
The buyer, Mays Landing resident Robert J. Orchard, says he has no concrete plans for the Asbury Avenue facility.
“I don’t know what the township will allow me to do with it; for now, it’s an investment property,” he said, declining to comment further.
A notice of settlement was filed with the Atlantic County Clerk’s office last month. Although that document doesn’t list a purchase price, the facility had been listed at $410,000 by real estate agency Keller Williams. The property is assessed at $385,500, municipal tax records show.
The ARCH was founded in 1988 to help clients of all ages improve concentration, mobility and self-esteem through horseback riding lessons. The nonprofit's most recent available IRS Form 990 tax return from 2010 showed the nonprofit had a total revenue of $250,000 and expenditures of $260,000. Its net assets were worth $641,000. More than 100 disabled individuals participated in its program that year.
Several board members, including the real estate agent who handled the sale, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Judith Weiner, 60, of Margate City, said she and many others were heartbroken over the center’s demise. Weiner has volunteered at the center from its inception and set up a scholarship fund for the center’s young volunteers in memory of her son.
“It’s a terrible thing for the public who uses and makes use of the place,” she said. “It'll be a real detriment to all of South Jersey.”
Weiner said she filed a complaint last month with the state Attorney General’s Office in the hope of recovering the balance of the scholarship fund. Beyond comments made at an Egg Harbor Township Committee meeting in July, she said she’s had no contact with the center’s board.
Robert Lydon, 60, an ARCH volunteer from Brigantine, said a number of current and former volunteers had presented the board with several buyers who were interested in preserving the the property as a therapeutic riding center. Their efforts were rebuffed, he said.
“There’s a lot of displaced handicapped people because of this,” he said, noting that ARCH was the only facility of its kind in the area that operated year-round.
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