Olympia Planning Commission Parks recommendations promote access and equity, endorses pocket parks


The Olympia Planning Commission approved the Parks chapter of the city's Comprehensive Plan update on Monday, with modifications to further promote community access and equity in park facilities.

Commissioners voted to endorse additional urban pocket parks "as a smaller, dispersed community park." This could support having public gathering places, preferably with seating and tables, across the community and widely available to all.

During the deliberation of the proposed updates to the Parks, Arts, and Recreation on February 12, Commissioner Carole Richmond initially proposed creating a new category for a pocket park to the park's classifications in the city's Comprehensive Plan.

She believed pocket parks could help address park access equity issues, particularly for downtown residents.

On Monday, Sylvana Niuhuser, director of Parks Planning, expressed reservations about creating a separate category for pocket parks. She said it could disrupt the existing frameworks.

Niuhuser explained that the urban pocket parks that the city currently has are all categorized under community parks.

"Parks can be both large athletic complexes,” said Niuhuser. “They can also be small, unique, and different from neighborhood parks because they do not necessarily serve a specific neighborhood."

The Parks Planning director stressed that they need to do it thoughtfully if commissioners decide to establish a separate category for small neighborhood parks. She added that it is important to consider industry best practices and set service-level standards through public outreach.

Niuhuser suggested revising the language to state that pocket parks fall under community parks. The commissioners agreed to a revision highlighting the importance of pocket parks without disrupting the existing categories.

The Commission also modified language in the policy that strengthens multi-modal connections between parks and transportation systems. They endorsed adding bicycle repair and parking facilities that support people arriving by various modes.

The Commission recommended providing parks with gathering areas within half a mile of all residents, with the distance to be measured by following an accessible route suitable for walking or small mobility devices.

The Commission also supports efforts to preserve the open spaces on the Port Peninsula. It encourages the city and the Port of Olympia to collaborate on a policy to protect the area and ensure continued public access.

The Planning Commission's recommendations to the Parks chapter will be sent to the Olympia City Council for review and approval.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here