By virtue of their size and location — 150 acres near schools along major roads and next to the existing LBA Park — the undeveloped lands near LBA Park are well suited to meet the City of Olympia’s parks needs.
During a 2008 parks planning exercise held by city parks staff, participants where asked,“What type of parks, arts and recreation experience do you value most?”
The most popular response: Nature!
During the same exercise, participants were also asked, “What program/project would you like to see Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation Offer?
The most popular response: Trails!
Nature and Trails. In other words, the exact kind of experience offered by the LBA Woods.
With 150 acres, there is room for other recreational amenities as well, particularly sports that require rectangular sports fields (soccer, football, ultimate Frisbee and rugby).
The City of Olympia parks plan recognizes that the City needs athletic fields. The latest park plan states,
There are no dedicated rectangular fields in any Olympia parks. OPARD manages use at school district fields. Current fields utilized for soccer range from full size dedicated soccer/football fields at middle and high schools to outfields of baseball fields. Currently practice field space is difficult to come by. In the spring, youth soccer practices begin while the youth baseball season is active. Some full-size soccer fields share field space with baseball fields which make those soccer fields unavailable until after the baseball season. In the fall, soccer and football are competing for the same play space. The quality of the experience for youth soccer is somewhat diminished due to field conditions from winter play by school programs. This heavy use is compounded by the inability to renovate the fields at the end of the season due to weather conditions.
Youth soccer is the fastest-growing sport in the area, primarily due to interest in playing longer than what used to be the traditional “summer season.” OPARD also coordinates an Ultimate Frisbee League, which has no dedicated rectangular fields on which to play. There are also no rectangular fields on which to program rugby, youth football or other similar sports. In order to meet today’s existing pent-up demand for rectangular fields, four dedicated rectangular fields would need to be added to the existing inventory. This would require approximately 25 additional community park acres….
To meet the existing deficiency in Community Parks, an additional 40-acre Community Park site (which is the size of Yauger Park) would have to be acquired and developed. Approximately 25-acres of this site could be dedicated to athletic fields and associated support facilities, and the remaining 15-acres could be utilized for other Community Park needs such as community gardens, off-leash dog areas, BMX, etc. (pages 97-98)
In 2008, the City of Olympia contracted for the preparation of a conceptual plan to expand LBA Park to include 3 rectangular athletic fields. However, the plan never got off the ground because the City was not able to acquire the property from D.R. Horton, the proponent of the Trillium Development.