Even in the lush Pacific Northwest, dedicated green spaces are crucial. We’re surrounded by stunning natural beauty, but many people lack the time or ability to trek to Mount Rainier or the coast to enjoy it. Lacey has a unique, 537-acre area of parks and greenways with open grasslands, pristine wilderness, wetlands, and creeks. The City wants to keep the area vibrant for generations to come and they need the community’s help envisioning its future.

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The City of Lacey’s Greg Cuoio Park & Greenways Master Plan development project aims to keep things vibrant for generations to come. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

Doctors explain “Urban green spaces such as parks, sports fields, woods, lakesides, and gardens give people the space for physical activity, relaxation, peace, and an escape from heat. Multiple studies have shown that these spaces reduce stress and boost mental and physical health. Green spaces are also associated with better air quality, reduced traffic noise, cooler temperatures, and greater diversity.”

The City is in the process of developing the Greg Cuoio Park & Greenways Master Plan (Plan). The Plan includes 537 acres of open space located between the Crossroads and Hawk’s Prairie neighborhoods just north of I-5. As part of the master planning process, the City is hosting its second virtual open house on Wednesday, July 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. via Zoom. The open house will provide updates on the Plan and give the community an opportunity to provide input on design alternatives for the park that were developed from feedback received from the community to date. Preregistration to attend will be posted online.

The initial open house took place on May 12 with 98 participants and 113 comments submitted during the meeting. “The purpose of the first open house was to introduce the park lands being planned and describe their unique wilderness and wetland properties,” explains Lacey Parks Director Jen Burbidge. “The City anticipates the Greg Cuoio Park & Greenways properties will include passive recreation, while balancing woodlands and wildlife habitat preservation, environmental restoration, and water quality protection. The open house also gave community members an opportunity to share what they feel is important and also what programs and activities they envision in the space.”

In addition to the open house, community members were invited to take an online survey to submit comments. “They were able to rank their park and greenway priorities, share what types of connections are important to them and also share what they are most excited about for the new parks and greenways master plan,” says Burbidge.

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On July 28, the City will host their second Zoom virtual open house with updates on this 537-acre greenspace project. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

The second open house has a slightly different focus. “The upcoming open house will provide an overall vision for the park and greenways and provide an opportunity for the public to give input on the different concept alternatives that were created based on input from the first open house, the online survey, and other comments the City has recieved,” says Burbidge. “Ultimately, the consultants (HBB Landscape Architecture) will help the City prepare the Master Plan based on feedback from the second open house. The Plan will also describe the most feasible first phase moving forward.”

Like its namesake department, Burbidge explains that, “parks, culture, and recreation play a vital role in the social, economic, and physical well-being of cities and their residents by creating equity, increasing community engagement, reducing crime, encouraging healthy lifestyles, reducing health costs, creating job opportunities, cleaning the air, improving public health, and environmental resilience.”

With this in mind, she encourages members of the public to learn about and engage with this process. “The public is the biggest stakeholder for this project since the park properties exist for public use. It will be important for them to understand the decision-making criteria that shape the park plan,” she continues. “It’s also a very exciting opportunity that doesn’t happen very often!”

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Join their Open House to ask questions, submit comments, and receive updates on this exciting, ambitious community parkland. Photo courtesy: City of Lacey

More than just grasslands and trails, the site hosts several creeks including Fox, Eagle, Palm, and Woodland Creeks. Within the total acreage are Greg Cuoio Park, Pleasant Glade Park, and Palm Creek Headwaters. It will be the city’s largest park.

To receive email updates or submit a question about the Master Plan, follow the project webpage or sign up for email updates by contacting LaceyParks@ci.lacey.wa.us. The City expects the Master Plan process to run through early 2022 when the City hopes to adopt the plan’s recommendation and determine a funding strategy. “The Parks, Culture & Recreation Department and the Lacey Board of Park Commissioners appreciates the robust participation by the public so far and looks forward to moving into the next phase of planning for this project,” says Burbidge.

We don’t often get the chance to influence a City’s design. Participating in this process means your voice will impact a large, lush recreation area for many years. Take a few minutes to read more and submit what things are most important to you and your family. Help keep the Pacific Northwest green.

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