The city will use $10 million in 2008 voter-approved bond funds to help fund the design and construction of Garey Park on FM 2243.
The 525-acre park, which was donated by Jack Garey, will be the city’s largest park, said Kimberly Garrett, the Georgetown Parks and Recreation Department director.
The city is also in the design stage for improvements to San Gabriel Park. Other projects underway include updates to VFW Park and to the Williams Drive Pool.
Garrett said the city will also begin accepting ideas for upgrades at Founder’s Park in May.
In 2004, Jack Garey announced he would donate his land to the city of Georgetown for a park. The 86-year-old and his late wife, Cammy, also pledged $5 million to help fund the park’s construction.
Garey had intended to bequeath the estate and the land to the city after his death. However, after he saw the design for the park in 2014, Garey decided he wanted to see the park created before he died.
“If I’m gone, I’ll never get the benefit of seeing how it looks, so I thought it would be better to see it,” he said. “It will be a pleasure to see people coming out and using the park.”
Construction on the park is scheduled to start in September and be completed in late 2017 or early 2018.
[polldaddy poll=9414142]The Gareys’ 6,000-square foot house will be used as an event venue. A 400-seat performance venue and surrounding green space that will accommodate 1,500 to 2,000 people will be in the event area.
The design was influenced by Garey’s interest in horses, Garrett said. Garey has owned racehorses throughout the years, and Garrett said his trophies, banners and pictures will be displayed in the house.
“We want people to know who the Gareys were, so if you ever get to the house for a special event, you’ll have a way to connect with the Gareys,” she said.
The park will have an equestrian facility and horse trails, where the city will be able to offer guided trail rides, horse riding lessons, hunter and jumper shows, and classes, she said. The plan also includes a playground with a splash pad, a dog park with separate areas for large and small dogs, and a third area for obedience training or agility classes.
The plan also includes group camping in bunkhouses, which will sleep eight to 10 people; retreat camping in two-bedroom cabins that can fit up to four people; and primitive camping.
Garrett said the city plans to charge an entrance fee to help fund the operations and maintenance of the park.
The city also plans to start construction on the first of four phases of improvements at San Gabriel Park in early 2017.
Phase 1 includes re-establishing a portion of the springs along the San Gabriel River and improving the entrance to the park on Morrow Street. The plan involves adding a trailhead, pavillions and playgrounds, as well as road realignment.
Chris Lalich, a director of project operations with RVI Planning, which is working on the design of the park, said RVI aimed to connect the roads in the park in a better structure so that it would be easier for visitors to move around.
“I think [the park] is really loved and has been added to over time in a haphazard manner,” he said. “One of the big focuses of [the improvements] was that San Gabriel Park really needed an identity.”
Nathan Quiring, a project architect with Clayton&Little, said the park’s design includes stone and vegetation on trellises above the new pavilions.
“We want to do structures that are appropriate for this park and to Georgetown in general,” he said. “They need to facilitate interaction with nature, and we want to make sure the things we do are durable and long-lasting.”
Phase 2 includes restoring the springs and river edges, and improving the area around the community center to be more pedestrian-friendly and add more barbecue pits.
Phase 3 will transition the rodeo arena and the show barn into a green area for festivals, which could include portable stages and a space for food trucks. Phase 4 of the design will include sports field improvements, road repairs, disc golf course improvements and redevelopment of the show barn site.
Representatives from RVI and Clayton&Little presented the design for phases 1 and 2 to City Council on April 26.
Garrett said the design for phases 1 and 2 and construction for Phase 1 have been funded.
Garrett said the city also began renovating the Williams Drive Pool to meet American’s with Disabilities Act standards and improve parking. Renovation will be completed before the pool opens for the summer.
In March the city began renovating the three girls softball fields at VFW Park to make the fields more accessible and improve the restrooms. The construction is expected to take a year to complete, and Garrett said the city would be able to host tournaments at the fields.
“We have the ability to have sports tourism and bring in tournaments and people to come visit on the weekend, eat in our restaurants [and] stay in our hotels,” she said.
Garrett said the city also hopes to make improvements at Founder’s Park, which commemorates the city’s founding, at Church and Ninth streets. The city is planning to plant trees, add a water fountain and improve sidewalks. Garrett said the city is soliciting ideas from neighbors and downtown businesses. Renovation work on the park is expected to begin in late 2016.