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Olympia launches master plan for new 86-acre park. Here’s how you can weigh in

The city of Olympia is preparing to turn land along Yelm Highway Southeast, now leased to Spooner Berry Farms, into a park.
The city of Olympia is preparing to turn land along Yelm Highway Southeast, now leased to Spooner Berry Farms, into a park. toverman@theolympian.com

What would you do with 86 acres of park land?

The city of Olympia bought 83 acres of undeveloped land along Yelm Highway Southeast from the Zahn family last year for $10.7 million, with plans to make it into a park.

Now the city, which already owned 3 acres next door, is getting started on a master plan for the property that will determine amenities, art and preservation of some areas.

To kick off the planning process, the city will host an open house at the site, 3323 Yelm Highway SE, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Landscape architects and city staff will be on hand to answer questions and take suggestions on the design.

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The park itself is still years away. The city hopes to have the plan done by the end of 2020 and would then look for grants and funding for construction, said Laura Keehan, parks planning and design manager for the city.

In the meantime, the city is leasing the land to Spooner, which has leased the property for decades for a berry stand and u-pick operation. Its main farm is about 5 miles down the road.

“It is such a large site, so development will likely be phased. It’s not something that we could build all 86 acres at once because it would be really expensive,” Keehan said.

The city has said the first phase of development will likely include athletic fields for soccer, football, lacrosse and other sports, because demand for fields is outpacing supply.

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