Vote set that would share Yelm Highway park land with Olympia School District

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The Olympia City Council is set to vote tomorrow on a proposed Co-Location Agreement that would make part of the Yelm Highway land designated to become a new park available to Olympia School District.

Last Thursday, the Olympia Parks, Arts& Recreation Advisory Committee discussed Olympia School District’s (OSD) offers to purchase part of the 86-acre Yelm Highway property. The city plans to develop the land into a public park with four soccer fields and other amenities.

Under the proposal, the school district would acquire about a quarter of the property, 22.91 acres, to build a new school, likely a third comprehensive high school, sometime in the next 10-15 years.

West Olympia option

The school district proposed exchanging about a quarter of the Yelm Highway property for a 27-acre property the school district owns along Harrison Avenue in west Olympia, which Simmons said could be developed into a park. 

“This is an area of the community that's identified as a high need for a neighborhood park,” remarked Parks, Arts & Recreation Director Paul Simmons. He added a comment that one or two soccer fields could also be built on the site or possibly an aquatics facility.

Downtown swap

Simmons said that OSD also offered an option to purchase its property across Bethel Street from the new Knox Administrative Center (the building formerly owned by The Olympian newspaper). Simmons said the city has identified this property as a potential housing site. Another proposal involved OSD providing an alternative site for the fire station that was planned to be built on the Yelm Highway land.

Along with the offers OSD gave was a commitment to continue its agricultural program located along Muirhead Avenue which may be compromised if a school were to be built on the Yelm property by finding an alternative site for the program.

Simmons also revealed that the school district offered a one-time right of refusal over the proposed school site on the Yelm Highway property, given that the school’s proposed construction is ten years away.

The OSD also offered to share construction and development costs on the Yelm Highway location, including around $650,000, which Simmons said will be used for building a sewer lift station on the property; and another $650,000 for gopher mitigation.

The district would also bear 70% of the costs for the Wiggins Road entrance to the site, 70% of the signaled pedestrian crossing near the Spooners entrance, and 85% of the frontage development along the side facing Yelm Highway.

 “The district has also really stepped up in terms of offering to help infrastructure costs,” remarked Simmons, “and I would say that if [a new]high school’s there, there would be shared infrastructure costs.”

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  • BobJacobs

    This article gives the percentage of the entire park site that the school district proposes to buy. What actually matters is the percentage of developable land on the site, which is far higher because so much of the site is undevelopable due to being either wetlands or wetland buffers.

    This proposal would be a bad deal for public parks and soccer fields in our area. It would actually reward the school district for its extremely bad land acquisition policies.

    Bob Jacobs

    Monday, March 21 Report this

  • BobJacobs

    WHY WHY WHY ?????????

    WHY should we build another high school, less than 2 miles from Olympia High and Washington Middle School.? (Oly. high has just added a second floor.)

    NORTHEAST OLYMPIA NEEDS A HIGH SCHOOL Southeast Olympia DOES NOT.

    The Parks Department has looked for land for the past 20 years, finally found a wonderful large piece perfect for the needs of a growing population. Now the School District wants our Park Land. WHY????

    The Olympia School district apparently has not been successful looking for land ...KEEP LOOKING ! If you can't find a huge area of land find a large one and Design a High School that has a 2nd or 3rd floor... be creative, use your imagination.

    Monday, March 21 Report this