On Aug. 21, the Olympia City Council will decide during its regular business meeting whether to sign a Purchase and Sale Agreement for an 83-Acre Parcel at 3323 Yelm Highway SE.
Should the Council approve the purchase of the property, currently owned by the Zahn family and leased to Spooner Berry Farms, the 83 acres would be preserved for future public use as a community park. The community park could include an array of recreational amenities, including soccer fields. The purchase price is $10.7 million.
The community identified the acquisition of a large, community park site for soccer fields as a high priority in the 2010 and 2016 Parks, Arts and Recreation Plans. In the City’s 2014 Community Park Suitability Assessment, the Yelm Highway parcel stood out as the preferred site to purchase for a new community park. The assessment identified and evaluated all the remaining undeveloped parcels large enough for a community park within the City and its Urban Growth Area.
“I’m very excited about this potential park acquisition. This particular property provides a unique opportunity to meet a variety of current and future needs identified in the Parks, Arts, & Recreation Plan,” said Paul Simmons, director of Olympia Parks, Arts, and Recreation.
There are no formal plans in place yet for the future park. Should the property be purchased, the City would begin a planning process in 2019 and would seek the community’s input as part of the process. Park development would likely be done in phases, with the first phase tentatively scheduled for 2024.
A property the size of the proposed Yelm Highway site could accommodate a number of full-size soccer fields and associated support facilities. It could also have room for additional community park amenities: from community gardens and trails to sports fields and courts, as an example.
For many years, the Zahn’s have leased the property to Spooner Berry Farms, who used the property for a U-Pick strawberry farm and berry stand. Spooner’s operates multiple berry farms in the area. If the City purchases the property, the City would be interested in developing a relationship with them and in continuing to lease to Spooner Farms prior to park development.
The proposed purchase would also move the City closer to the community’s 2004 goal of increasing the City park system by 500 acres. Should this property be acquired, the City will have acquired 440 acres since 2004 towards the initial goal and would also be using funds raised from the Voted Utility Tax to pay for the acquisition.