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Thurston County Comprehensive Plan

Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan

Status: The Thurston County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board typically meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the office conference room at 4131 Mud Bay Road, Olympia, Washington 98502. Please call the office to confirm the meeting date and time. To view the Parks and Recreation website, click here.


The Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan is a component of the Thurston County Comprehensive Plan. The parks plan was first adopted in 1989 and has been updated only once in 21 years, and that was in 1996.  Another update to the plan is long overdue for many reasons. State land use requirements for parks comprehensive plans have changed, and uses that Thurston County would like to develop for parks must be part of an adopted comprehensive plan. Thurston County‚Äôs population has grown 2.1 percent in ten years (1980-2000 Census), and the county has experienced significant demographic shifts and corresponding changes in demand for parks, recreation, and open space.

swingFinancial realities at the state and local level and within county government have had a major impact on parks and recreation services.  In 2009, Thurston County reorganized county departments to address a budget shortfall and to improve overall efficiency of operations. As a result of that reorganization, the Parks and Recreation Department was disbanded and its functions split between the Public Works Department and the Department of Resource Stewardship. Public Works manages the maintenance and operations of the parks, while Resource Stewardship manages the recreation services component. (Recreation services include adult sports, fun runs, day camps and specialized recreation for the disabled.)

As the 1996 plan's relevance diminished over the years, and as circumstances changed, Thurston County has adapted and taken the necessary steps to continue to make outdoor recreation available to county residents. In the absence of a plan that reflects current conditions and anticipates the future, it has been a challenge to make strategic decisions and stabilize funding for parks and recreation services. Meanwhile, the population continues on a steady climb, ensuring that demand for recreational open space will continue to grow.

Plan Concept

The Thurston County Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan will examine and document existing conditions at county parks, analyze needs and issues, and set goals, policies and recommendations. The effort will use a combination of substantive information and public involvement to evaluate county parks today and for the future. These include: 1) visioning and guidance from the Parks Board and Board of County Commissioners; 2) public outreach; 3) statistical data regarding population demographics and recreational preferences; 4) inventory data of parklands, facilities, and amenities; and 5) parks staff knowledge and participation in plan development.

Public Involvement

Updating the Parks and Recreation Services Comprehensive Plan will be roughly a two-year process beginning in the summer of 2010. The public will have many opportunities to participate in the process. To view the public involvement plan, click here. To sign up for our webmail service, click here.

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