If you find yourself heading to a Lacey park this summer, you may notice some new features and services. “It is important that we provide enjoyable experiences for people in the community and we want the parks to be accessible to all,” says Jen Burbidge, Parks and Recreation Director for City of Lacey. “We are always looking for ways to improve and enhance user experience.” Here are some of the new or improved features, most of which are ready for you to enjoy.

Rainier Vista Community Park

Check out the Pickle ball courts at Rainer Vista Community Park. The courts celebrated a grand opening last fall and their popularity with the public has only increased with the beautiful summer weather.

City of Lacey Parks Pickball popular
The pickle ball courts have become increasingly popular with patrons since their opening last fall.
Photo credit: Holly Reed

Pickle ball is a fun racquet sport with local roots. It was invented during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island by Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. Joel Prichard later became Lieutenant Governor of Washington. Legend has it the group of friends wanted to play badminton, but couldn’t find the shuttlecock. So they improvised a new lawn game by lowering the net and playing with a whiffle ball. By the 1970s, the game was a regional hit, and in the 80s it became nationally recognized. Pickle ball is now played around the world including Australia, India, and Spain, to name a few countries that have taken to the sport. But, you don’t have to go far to play, just head over to Lacey’s Rainer Vista Community Park. The 46-acre park features 4 pickle ball courts, and numerous other courts and fields, picnic benches, barbecue grills, a skate park, and more.

The pickle ball courts are located next to the tennis courts. Drop in play is available during the parks regular hours, from dawn until dusk.

Long Lake Park

For area residents looking to stay cool, Long Lake Park offers plenty of water fun with some new improvements as well. Long Lake Park boasts some of the finest inland swimming beaches in Thurston County, including 285 feet of beach frontage, as well as sand volleyball, picnic areas, and walking trails through the woods.

City of Lacey Parks Long Lake
Long Lake is a favorite swimming spot for locals around Thurston County. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey Parks Department

To increase safety for swimmers at Long Lake Park, the City of Lacey changed the size of the swim area. The swim area safety updates are in line with best practice recommendations from the American Red Cross. Lifeguards will be on duty, 11:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., every day, from June 23 through September 3. Lifeguard coverage traditionally begins the Saturday after Lacey schools let out for the summer and runs through Labor Day. Park-goers should keep an eye out for signs reminding them about swimming boundaries and safety regulations.

Park visitors can also use the new, small-craft launch area to access Long Lake during park hours (7:00 a.m. – dusk). The launch is available for canoes, kayaks, rowboats, paddleboards, and other similar small craft. Motorized boats, inner tubes, and inflatable-style rafts are prohibited. For safety, swimming is not allowed in the small-craft boating and launch area.

In addition to the new small-craft launch area, Northwest Paddle Surfers will be at Long Lake Park renting stand-up paddleboards and kayaks (weather permitting). They offer affordable rental rates that include all safety equipment such as life vests. Rentals are available from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., June 23 through September 3, daily. They will have Friday through Sunday rentals for the rest of September. Reservations are highly recommended and must be made a day in advance, but there may be walk-up availability. Right now, they offer a very generous military discount for active and retired military personal, so bring your ID.

Regional Athletic Complex

City of Lacey Parks Bleacher Covers
Construction is currently underway on bleacher covers at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey Parks Department

Bleacher covers are currently under construction at the Regional Athletic Complex. This 100-acre facility is regarded as one of the best outdoor sporting venues in the state. The bleacher covers will improve spectator experience by shading them from the hot, summer sun and protecting them against the rain when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Construction is ongoing through the summer months. Expect it to conclude in early fall. The covers were made possible with the help of a $25,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

The City of Lacey manages over two dozen parks. To learn more about the features available at these parks or others, check out the parks website. For questions or comments call, 360-491-0857.

Rainier Vista Community Park – 5475 45th Ave SE
Long Lake Park – 2790 Carpenter Road SE
Regional Athletic Complex – 8345 Steilacoom Rd SE

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