The city of Ozark acquired the historic Garrison Spring property with the intent to turn it into a public park. That doesn't mean Garrison Spring will be transformed into a recreation destination immediately.
It will take time for the property, which includes a house, barn and botanical garden, to undergo the transformation necessary to become a public park with the amenities people expect from nearby spots like Grubaugh Park or the Finley River Park.
The Ozark Department of Parks and Recreation will work to bring the property into compliance with the requirements of public park land, such as Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, parking space and other safety regulations.
The previous owner of Garrison Spring, Mary Lou Braswell, still lives in the house on the property. For this reason, Ozark city officials ask that visitors to Garrison Spring continue adhering to the signs posted on the property, avoid parking in a way that blocks the driveway, and be courteous to Braswell's home and property.
The City of Ozark entered into an agreement with the Missouri Department of Conservation, which allows the state to provide funds up to 75 percent of the appraised value for the purchase of the land, and these funds were used to match a $184,000 grant awarded to Ozark by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Community Forest Program, not to exceed 50 percent of the overall cost of the property.
Garrison Spring is located against a backdrop of trees, a cave, flower gardens and three springs. It has been loved by the community and privately-maintained by the Braswell family for more than 25 years.
“The city is honored to acquire this land and assume the responsibility of providing such a peaceful place to our residents and visitors,” said Samantha Payne, Ozark Deputy City Administrator.
Payne previously held the title of Parks and Recreation Director prior to her promotion in 2021, and has been a key player in the acquisition of Garrison Spring.
Currently, Garrison Spring is open to the public but is undergoing maintenance.
"While the City encourages the public to see the beauty of Garrison Spring, we ask that in an effort to not disrupt this maintenance, visitors are conscientious regarding heavy foot traffic in the area," Payne said.