Four new park developments planned in Olympia

Comments invited on 2022-28 parks plan

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The City of Olympia plans to develop four new parks as part of the city’s long-term directive to make recreational spaces more inclusive and accessible.

On Thu., Sept. 9, Olympia Parks Planner Laura Keehan presented a draft of the city’s Parks, Arts, & Recreation Plan: 2022 to 2028. The plan serves as a guide for the development and enhancement of the city’s park system in the next six years. “This plan has many years in the works,” Keehan shared.

Keehan told The JOLT that city staff invite the public to comment on the plan, which is published on the city’s Engage Olympia website. The comment period ends on Sept. 27.

For the next few years, the city wants to focus on developing facilities that promote inclusion and diversity, as well as adopting steps towards climate mitigation.

Neighborhood Parks

 In a random survey conducted in 2020, Keehan noted that a majority of Olympians love parks. With this, the city sets its goal to eventually build parks within half a mile of every residence in the city.  “That’s about a ten-minute walk,” Keehan told The JOLT.

For the next six years, the staff shared that they plan new neighborhood parks in areas that currently do not have a recreational space. Each park will be divided into two areas, a dedicated field area, and a wooded or trail area. 

The plan talks about the development of four 4 neighborhood parks, including:

  • Lilly Road NE, a five-acre plot
  • Evergreen Park on Evergreen Park Drive SW
  • Eighth Ave NE, a four-acre plot north of Martin Way, northeast of the northern end of Pattison St. NE.
  • Peace and Healing Park, on Ninth Ave SE and Adams SE, behind the Olympia Timberland Library. This is the gardens next to the former Fertile Ground Guesthouse

Currently, the city also seeks to purchase additional properties that total some 20 acres to be held as open space for future park developments. As of the moment, the city is yet to provide a detailed plan for the proposed neighborhood parks.

Priest Point Park

 Aside from building new parks, the city also plans to improve old ones. Keehan shared that staff will propose to make updates to the playground at Priest Point Park which is nearing the end of its design life.

The city plans to revive the area by building the first fully inclusive public playground in Olympia. The new facilities would allow children of all abilities to play together. “There’s a segment of our population that we are not just able to serve, unfortunately, right now. So we are looking forward to serving those children in the future,” Keehan said.

One component of the work, in 2025, would expand the play area’s footprint and make all of the playground equipment inclusive to accommodate wheelchairs or people who need assistance sitting upright. The nearest example of such a park is the Penny Playground in Chehalis, next to the city’s aquatics facility.

Yelm Highway Community Park

 The staff also reported that Phase 1 of the Yelm Highway Community Park is underway and that the master plan for the project will be completed by the end of the year.

Based on the proposal, the park would mainly cater to soccer and other field sports. In addition, it would also have a pickleball and basketball court, a skate park, a dog park, a berry farm and stand, a trail and running loop, a bicycle loop, and a playground.

Other park improvements

 For the downtown area, the city also proposes to build more active parks which include the construction of a pickleball court, a soccer mini-pitch, table tennis area, a half-court basketball, and a dog run area.

Aquatic Center

 In the survey, Olympians also expressed their desire to access swimming pools, a facility that the city has yet to put in place. Currently, the staff shared that the city is conducting feasibility for the proposed Regional Aquatic facility which includes the partnership with Lacey and Tumwater. The regional facility would feature a lap pool, a leisure pool, a party room, and even a classroom.

Armory Creative Campus

 In addition, Keehan confirmed that the city was able to secure funding for the Armory Creative Campus. The news came after the state legislature approved the transfer of the armory from the military to the city of Olympia for its redevelopment as a new arts center.

Since 2016, the city was able to construct 19 new park developments and had received $7 million from state grants. In total, Olympia was able to acquire 350 acres of parkland.

Plan is still being developed

The plan is scheduled for review by December, have a public meeting in January 2022 with approval in February 2022.   If approved by March 1, 2022, the city will be eligible for state grants.  In the past six years, the city has received $7 million in state grants for other parks.

Comments

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Always Concerned

Speaking of parks, it would be interesting where the park is that Tumwater was promised in the Preserve. We have been paying an increase in taxes for. The councilperson Charlie Schneider who lives in that development has gone on record with the plans and nothing, Not a surprise for a politician. I am sure he will do fine in Mayor Pete's place when he finally leaves. Leadership is at an all time low.

Friday, September 17
Mayor Pete

While the City's completion of the neighborhood park at the Preserve were set back by the pandemic, progress continues. The land was acquired, a conceptual design has been completed, and the plans and specs for bidding the work are well underway. Our goal is to be able to advertise for bids to prepare the site either this fall or early next year. Installation of the play toys may be delayed by several months due to the pandemic limiting the manufacturing of the toys. The City is committed to completion of this park and looking forward to it's opening.

Saturday, September 18
Larry D

A recent survey (April 2021) of Olympians confirmed past surveys that the number 1 priority need for facilities is INDOOR SWIMMING POOLS.

"The four facilities/amenities with the highest percentage of households whose needs for

amenities are being met 50% or less are listed below.

 Indoor Swimming Pool: approximately 11,808 households (or 49.8%)

 Restrooms in Parks: approximately 11,188 households (or 47.1%)

 Multi-use Paved Trails: approximately 9,629 households (or 40.6%)

 Open Space Conservation Areas: approximately 9,564 households (or 40.3%)"

So here is an idea: Olympia Schools construct the indoor pools either on their existing land or the new land they want at the Yelm Highway park acquisition site.

The schools use the pool for teaching students swimming and as part of phys ed classes. Off-hours, the pool is available to the community as a whole.

This is not an unprecedented partnership as the City already contributes to Olympia School's field maintenance in various ways in exchange for neighborhood access to school playgrounds and fields.

Saturday, September 18