Message from the Director


Building a Park System for the Future

In 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 over $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 327 acres of new park land, most notably LBA Woods (133 acres), Kaiser Woods (69 acres) and Yelm Highway Parcel (83 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 and private landowners along the Karen Fraser Woodland Trail (23 total acres).

  • Our Capital Asset Management Program (CAMP) has identified a $6.9 million deferred maintenance backlog; the OMPD is providing funds to address that backlog.
  • Our department has rebuilt 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 121 works of art that are aging and require regular maintenance. The OMPD is providing funds to staff a seasonal arts maintenance position.

  • The department upgraded the existing softball infield at Stevens Field with the City’s first synthetic turf infield.
  • An expanded Rose Garden shelter 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. Ballfield lights at Stevens Field have also been replaced.
  • 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.
  • The department installed new playgrounds at Friendly Grove Park and 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.
  • The department continues to make ongoing investments in Percival Landing, including the installation of a $3M bulkhead on Water St. and 4th Ave.
  • In 2018, we continued to remove blight from the Isthmus properties, while also developing a new interim park plaza space. This is now the location of the City’s seasonal Ice Rink in the winter months and Pump Track in the spring-summer months.
  • The department added a new sprayground to Woodruff Park. The project also included renovation to the Sport Courts to include our first dedicated pickleball courts, updating restrooms to meet ADA standards, adding a picnic shelter, and adding pedestrian pathways to Olympia’s oldest park.

  • The department has created three full-time and one seasonal Park Ranger positions, to provide over 7,000 hours annually of pro-active patrolling in Olympia Parks.
  • 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 |