Olympia public works transfers control of four city properties to parks department


During the city council meeting on Tue., Sept. 28, the Olympia City Council approved a resolution that transfers primary management and control of four city properties from the Public Works Department to the Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Department (OPARD).

Previously, the city’s Public Works Water Resources division maintained the following properties, Black Lake Meadows, Taylor Wetlands, Indian Creek and Yauger Wetland. The transfer is necessary as it allows OPARD to establish open spaces and recreational facilities for local residents.

In his presentation, Director of Park Planning and Maintenance Jonathan Turlove explained that the transfer provides certain benefits to the city properties such as providing Park Ranger patrolling and management of recreational facilities. He also clarified that Public Works would continue to manage stormwater and habitat functions for these properties.

In addition, Turlove shared that OPARD plans to build a connection between the eight acres of Yauger Wetland to the adjacent Grass Lake Nature Park. The transfer also includes three acres of Indian Creek Stormwater Facility, which already has a parking area, a short trail, and a water feature.

500-Acre Goal Met

The acquisition of the four parcels also enabled OPARD to reach a goal set in 2004.

Back then, OPARD identified several potential properties they wanted to acquire to create city parks. This gave them the idea to set a 500-acre goal by 2025.

Turlove shared that before the transfer, OPARD managed 1,367 acres of land. With the transfer, it increases the acquisition to 1,465. With the four new properties, OPARD was able to exceed their goal as they now manage 563 acres of park properties.  “It’s a goal we have been working on for the past 15 years now, and so this is quite a milestone,” Turlove said.

Aside from the new city properties, OPARD also acquired three new open spaces including Kaiser Wood, LBA Woods and West Bay Woods. Currently, it manages seven community parks including Yelm Highway, Ward Lake, Madison Scenic, Isthmus, West Bay, Harrison Ave., and the recently donated Springwood/Zabels property.

Jonathan Turlove, Director of Park Planning and Maintenance, to retire

During the council meeting, Parks, Arts and Recreation Director Paul Simmons also announced Turlove’s retirement following 23 years of service to the city of Olympia. “He’s leaving large shoes both literally and figuratively,” Simmons said, praising Turlove’s accomplishments throughout the years.


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Jim Lazar

Part of the story here is that this ALSO moves the maintenance cost for these facilities out of Public Works and into Parks.

I think this is unfortunate, because Public Works is rate-supported, and Parks is tax-supported. The City can raise the rates, but only voters can raise the tax. The net effect is that Parks will have a little less money to do other things with.

It may still be a net benefit. But it comes at a price.

Thursday, September 30

It sounds so great! 500 acres as a goal of "acquiring" for the Parks department. But these were already owned by the city, so there is no net gain here. If I take a dollar out of one of my pants pockets and put it in the other pocket, I still have a dollar. The city is playing an old street corner hustle - look! we just acquired (implication that the land was saved) all this acreage. No new land was saved or protected.

Monday, October 4