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.
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:
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.
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.