Message from the Director

Building a Park System
for the Future

Parks, Arts & Recreation Director Paul SimmonsIn 2015, Olympia voters took a historic step and approved the formation of the Olympia Metropolitan Parks District (OMPD) for the purpose of increasing funding for parks acquisition, maintenance, development, and safety. The funding from this voted measure began in 2017 and is now generating $3.5 million annually to support Olympia parks. These funds will enhance existing funding sources such as the general fund, utility taxes, program revenue, impact fees, and grants.

This new funding mechanism will allow the department to catch up on several years of deferred maintenance, while simultaneously building a staff structure and acquisition strategy to support the parks, arts, and recreation needs of our growing community.

These are some of the recent accomplishments and projects that are underway as a result of the passage of the OMPD:

  • The City of Olympia has acquired over 225 acres of new park land, most notably LBA Woods (133 acres) and Kaiser Heights (75 acres).    
  • The City secured the acquisition of two parcels located above West Bay Drive near a heron rookery, preserving critical habitat while also securing future neighborhood connections to the waterfront (2 acres).
  • In our effort to preserve critical habitat, the City has acquired the property that surrounds the headwaters of Mission Creek (3 acres).
  • The City has secured two land donations, and acquired multiple properties from Thurston County at a significantly reduced rate along the Karen Fraser Woodland Trail (11 total acres).

  • Our Capital Asset Management Program (CAMP) has identified a $4.2 million deferred maintenance backlog; the OMPD is providing funds to address that backlog over a six-year timeframe.
  • Our department is rebuilding the parks maintenance service levels to where they were prior to the recession. This includes restoration of a weekend supervisor, an arborist, and increased presence of parks staff in evenings and weekends.
  • In preparing for growth of the park system, the department is creating additional seasonal staff positions.
  • The City’s art collection has grown to include over 110 works of art that are aging and require regular maintenance. The OMPD is providing funds to staff a seasonal arts maintenance position.

  • The department is upgrading the existing softball infield at Stevens Field with the City’s first synthetic turf infield.
  • An expanded Rose Garden shelter recently opened at Priest Point Park, replacing a popular facility that was both outdated and had reached the end of its design life.
  • Yauger Park ballfield lights on fields two and three have been fully replaced and upgraded to LED.
  • Additional major maintenance projects have included the resurfacing of Friendly Grove tennis court and the replacement of roofs on two buildings at Priest Point Park.
  • In 2018, the department will install a new playground and pathway at Margaret McKenny Park.
  • After 20 years of operation, the Heritage Fountain mechanical system has been replaced.
  • The West Bay Park & Restoration Master Plan process is underway and is estimated to be completed by the end of 2018.
  • The department continues to make ongoing investments in Percival Landing, most recently completing $300,000 of repairs to keep the Landing safe and open.
  • As a component within the next phase of the rehabilitation of Percival Landing, the department is underway with design and permitting of a $3M bulkhead replacement project.
  • In 2018, the department will begin construction on Woodruff Park.  The project will not only add a highly desirable sprayground, but it will also update the existing restrooms to meet ADA, add a picnic shelter, and add pedestrian pathways to Olympia's oldest park.
  • In 2018, the department will begin construction to continue removing blight from the Isthmus properties, while also developing a new interim park plaza space.

  • The department has two full-time and three seasonal Park Ranger positions, to provide over 7,000 hours annually of pro-active patrolling in Olympia Parks.
  • The OMPD has provided ongoing funding for an expansion of the successful Artesian Well Host & Ranger positions.
  • The Olympia Center and Percival Landing have expanded security guard support during all community center operating hours.

Performance Report

The department recently began using performance measures to determine and to communicate levels of success in delivering services to the community. This data‐based approach measures whether the department is meeting expectations in many different areas including park acres, park condition, recreation activities, and park asset management. 

 


Paul Simmons | Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation Director
360.753.8462 | psimmons@ci.olympia.wa.us