After Garey died in 2022, the park was named one of the beneficiaries in his will with $20 million to go to the Garey Park Donor Advised Fund to be spent within five years. The Garey family originally donated 525 acres for the park in 2004 in addition to $5 million for initial development of the park.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide the citizens of Georgetown and our surrounding area something really special,” Parks and Recreation Director Kimberly Garrett said.
The new funds must go to improvements to increase safety, address current demand and increase revenue collected. Specific improvements listed in the will include using the funding for group camping cabins, an amphitheater and a memorial pavilion as well as cleaning up second-growth cedar trees in park pastures.
The parks department proposed renovating the interior of the Garey House while also installing a covered patio and additional parking at the event facility. Garrett said the department would like to increase number of people it can accommodate from about 125 people to 200 people.
“That gets us more in line with some of the other event venues and be more competitive with the number of people that could be at Garey House,” Garrett said.
In addition to the group cabins, staff proposed constructing a new pavilion, additional parking at multiple sites, an archery range and a RV host site. Other projects include a new mountain bike trail, a skate park, a pump track and an 18-hole disc golf course.
The $20 million will be held by the Chisholm Trail Community Foundation, which has already approved the proposed projects. The city would treat the funds as a grant with reimbursements from the CTCF to be made within 10 days of a request for payment.
The annual operating expense after the park improvements is estimated to be $200,000, while the annual revenue is estimated to be around $200,000. A preliminary site evaluation will be done between April and June. Up to 30% of the development will be designed between June and September.
“We’re on a tight timeline, but I think it’s doable,” Garrett said.