The Hickory City Council approved agreements for a new 19-acre, $7.8 million park concept at the site of the existing Rotary Geitner Park.
The new park will be called the Deidra Lackey Memorial Park. The council vote was unanimous with all seven members voting for the agreements.
The idea came about in 2013 when Hickory resident Robert Lackey Sr. came to the city with the idea of creating a park along Lake Hickory in memory of his late wife, according to a city press release.
The Lackey family formed a company to work with the city on the development of the park.
In addition to trails, gardens, an event dock and other public park amenities, the project will also feature two big new amenities: a Lake House with an outdoor amphitheater and a Conservatory that will feature a cemetery with 50 graves located in walls and below ground.
Though the Lackey company plans to use the Lake House and Conservatory as for-profit businesses and can hold private events at the facilities, there are requirements for public access to both in the agreements.
The Conservatory must “be open to the public … in a manner substantially similar to other city park areas,” according to the agreement.
The city will partner with a third party known as the Burial Rights Company in an agreement allowing the company to build up to 50 burial spots in the Conservatory area.
The burial company would have rights to visit and hold family events at the burial site.
The city also has the right to hold as many as 12 city events at the Lake House each year.
In his presentation on the project, Assistant City Manager Rodney Miller said the expectation is the amphitheater and the area around it would likely be open to the public most of the time.
The park will be located at one end of the Riverwalk, the planned public walkway over Lake Hickory that is one of the projects funded by the 2014 bond referendum.
As part of their agreement with the Lackeys, the city will lease land to the company for $1 a year for 40 years.
The Lackeys will pay $6 million of the cost while the city contributes $1.8 million. City Manager Warren Wood said at the meeting this was the largest donation the city has ever received.
There is also a 71-acre area adjacent to the park that could serve as a site for expansion of the park.