Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sibley Center Closed

Abandoned Sibley Horticultural Center at Callaway Gardens
Sandra H Camper


Callaway Gardens Dear Forgotten GA followers, 

Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to clarify the inaccuracies of this post regarding the Sibley Horticulture Center at Callaway Gardens. First and foremost thank you to Ms. Camper for attempting to clarify the facts by posting the link to the newspaper article regarding the closure of certain facilities at Callaway Gardens. 

Facebook poster Tommy Powell comments are quite simply not true. Callaway Gardens would in fact be “broke” had the Board of Trustees of the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation, the non-profit 501C-3 parent of Callaway Gardens, not taken bold moves to not lose any more money in operations at Callaway Gardens. The facts are this; the Gardens cannot survive without a vibrant, relevant and profitable resort business. All after tax proceeds of the resorts businesses at Callaway go towards operations and upkeep of the Gardens. 

In recent years the resort business floundered at Callaway with an older facility called with the Mountain Creek Inn, in April of 2016 the Board of Trustees approved the purchase of the Lodge and Spa at Callaway Gardens, a property we previously did not own and competed with. Doing so has had immediate positive impact on cash flows in the resort business and as such we recently completed a multi-million dollar remodel of the Lodge and performed a $500K demolition of hotel rooms at the Mountain Creek Inn that were built as a roadside motel in the early 1950’s. The profits from our resort business also allowed us to perform a nearly $1m remodel of the 7 miles of bicycle trails in the Garden as well as interior and exterior improvements to the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. 

It is the current viewpoint of the Board of Trustees that Callaway Gardens is in better financial shape than it has been in decades. Following a strict disciplined “financial diet” has turned Callaway around financially from our much publicized past challenges. It is also a goal to perhaps reopen the Sibley Center (at some point) as a repurposed venue that can contribute , not detract, to our financial health. I am confident that under our current leadership and a renewed focus on the resort business that Callaway will be providing many new reasons to visit for those who may have “forgotten” about Callaway.

Regards,

William R. Doyle, III President and CEO

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