The earliest organized effort to promote the public ownership and enjoyment of the
Bachman/McCoy property was a “Sunday Social hosted by Karen Stone, Anne Huff, LaVonne
Jolley and Marilee Stites. The event was held at the McCoy party house, now known as the
McCoy Pavilion, on 4/30/2000.
Elizabeth Akins and Bettie Chester worked with Martha before her death in 2004 on a plan to deed five acres of the central home place to the town of Walden. Her will specified that the property be used as an “arboretum, a park and for recreational purposes.” Following Martha’s passing, Akins and Chester, with encouragement from Martha’s daughter Sally McCoy Garland, helped to finalize the Town’s purchase of the remaining 32 acres from Martha’s estate. A resolution by the Town of Walden commemorated Martha shortly after her death on July 13, 2004 for her generosity and her values.
In the following years ideas for the property progressed towards public use as town boards explored various options. Mayor Peter Hetzler in August 2009 “identified five factors that ranked at the top of Walden citizens’ desires for the development of the park or arboretum: retain the house, create a walking path around the perimeter, restore the gardens, keep the apple orchard and keep some of the mature trees.” Hetzler and Vice-Mayor Elizabeth Akins invited Bettie Chester and Karen Stone to accompany them on an assessment tour of the property.
In an effort to capitalize on the McCoy opportunity consolidate town property holdings, Mayor David Epperson authorized architectural plans to develop plans that called for locating the Pumpkin Patch and Town Hall on the McCoy property. News of the expenditure prompted some negative response. John Niemeyer, retiree and Forest Park Drive resident, wrote the town in a September 4, 2012, with a request for information on how taxpayer funds were being spent on the McCoy property and how residents would benefit from the expenditure.
Interested citizens began meeting in 2014 and early 2015 in the homes of Jeremy Logan and Jody Hunter and Susan and Tom Snow to develop specific plans for the property. The group grew in numbers and moved to a room at Bachman Community Center, where Susan Snow and Mickey Robbins co-chaired several meetings.
Interest in the McCoy property grew. Harriette and Earl Hereford with Linda Collins met in the Hereford home to form a “Kitchen Cabinet” and made plans for an “old-fashioned town meeting.” On Tuesday February 17, 2015, Linda Collins moderated a well-attended forum at the Walden Civic League Auditorium. Anne Leonard provided a “McCoy Property Survey”, which listed various preferences for use of the property by attendees. Ideas voiced at the meeting included selling lots around the periphery of the property to defer town costs, creating a working farm and charging school children to visit on field trips, financing the operation with educational grants, and opening the property on a members-only fee basis. A consensus emerged at the meeting on the need for a volunteer group to improve and manage the property within its present configuration as a community greenspace serving local residents.
Following the February 17 town forum, Mayor Trohanis joined by Aldermen Thom Peterson and Lee Davis appointed a volunteer group composed of mostly future McCoy board members with a mandate to clean up the property and host a Memorial Day picnic. Volunteers began clearing invasive vegetation, restoring the main house, otherwise improving the 38 acres and preparing for Memorial Day. Approximately 1000 attendees came to the picnic in 2015.
In late 2015 the board created a 501c3 with Mickey Robbins serving as President, Joe Davis as Vice- President, Bob Franklin as Secretary, and Gene Adams as Treasurer. Other board members included Charles Adams, Linda Collins, Kim Fookes, Andy Jones, Anne Leonard, Jeremy Logan and Doug Newton. Susan Snow was Chairman of Events and Karen Stone was Chairman of Publicity before joining the board. Jody Hunter chaired the Master Gardeners. The rest is history.