Each month, City Parks Alliance names one “Frontline Park” as a standout example of urban park excellence, innovation and stewardship from across the country. The program identifies city parks that find innovative ways to meet the unique challenges faced as a result of shrinking municipal budgets, land use pressures and urban neighborhood decay. In recognition of its innovative practices in partnerships and volunteer engagement, Priest Point Park has been named a Frontline Park.
Priest Point is a park built by volunteers. When the park was constructed, the city did not have the staff necessary to complete construction, and relied heavily on community members who donated their time and labor. Volunteers cleared the landscape, restored historic structures, installed landscaping features, and cleared trails throughout the park. At 314 acres and more than a century old, Priest Point is both the city’s largest and oldest park, and still relies heavily on volunteer engagement for general maintenance. This history of volunteerism in Olympia provided the basis for a culture of stewardship that has since grown to encompass all of the urban parks and forests in the city.
The City of Olympia Park Stewardship Program is a robust engagement program designed to offer experiences in urban parks that create an appreciation for Olympia’s natural and cultural resources, allowing members of the community to actively participate in and take ownership of the restoration and maintenance of their forests and parks. With volunteerism as a cornerstone of the program, the city also seeks to promote general environmental awareness, to ensure there will be no shortage of volunteers returning for generations to come.
Each year, stewardship priorities are set so volunteer efforts can be directed where they are needed most. Local partners such as REI, Centro, and Native Plant Salvage have provided funds, materials, and staff to help carry out projects and raise awareness of the program. In 2013 alone, more than 6,500 hours of service were logged in the program, the equivalent of $146,000.