Standing in a muddy field next to a horse stable in Fairmount Park, city officials announced plans Monday to build a $1.4 million home for the Philadelphia Police Mounted Unit.

"This is huge," Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said of the plans to build the facility on Chamounix Drive that will house the mounted unit, reestablished this spring after being disbanded in 2004.

The commissioner hailed the project, a 13,000-square-foot steel structure that will house about 40 horses. The site is next to the McCarthy Stables, also known as the Chamounix Equestrian Center, where children participate in the Work to Ride equestrian program.

"The Mounted Patrol is a very important part of our operation," Ramsey said. "We can patrol a lot of areas that we are not able to patrol by car."

Ramsey said the unit would also be useful for crowd control.

The construction project is being done in collaboration with the Philadelphia Police Foundation, which is working to raise the $1.4 million for the project. The foundation is raising the money through a program called Pony Up for the Mounted Unit.

Construction services for the facility will be supplied pro bono through a joint partnership with Philadelphia trade unions, including iron workers, cement masons, roofers, carpenters and engineers, among others, officials said.

Janice Tangradi, a board member for the Police Foundation, said the partnership with the unions represents a savings of $400,000.

The barn will have 42 stables, five feed stalls, four tack rooms and three wash stalls with indoor plumbing.

The mounted unit now has 12 horses, which are being housed at the Amber Acres in the 1100 block of Stanwood Street in the city's Bustleton section.

Harry Martin, regional director for Verizon Wireless, presented the officials with a $10,000 check to get the project started.

Officials said the work will begin in November.

Nutter said the city has had a long history with the mounted unit. "It is a very positive component of public safety and a crime fighting force," Nutter said.

"Police Commissioner Ramsey has been clear from before Day One that a big city like Philadelphia should have a mounted unit," Nutter said. "Now we need to raise the necessary dollars."

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Contact staff writer Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or