Volunteer Park is a treasured green space for those of us who live and/or work on Capitol Hill, as well as for the thousands who visit each year. Volunteer Park is an Olmsted-designed park, and is landmarked due to its significant design and history. There is currently so much going on in the park that we wanted to provide an update. As chair of Volunteer Park Trust (VPT), I am one of a group of volunteers who work to fulfill the mission of the Trust: “To restore, protect and preserve this city and national landmark for today and generations to come.” As a non-profit, we organize free events such as the Holiday in the Park (save the date for Dec. 8 this year), the annual Summer Picnic, and tours of the park throughout the year. We do landscape renovation and maintenance by hosting a monthly Second Saturday gardening activity as well as taking on larger projects with two four-hour Stewardship Days per year. Our latest Stewardship Day resulted in the planting of over 300 plants, including some of the most fragrant yellow roses ever. 

Much of our work is with our park partners-Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM), The Volunteer Park Conservatory, and Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR). We are collaborating on how to make the park more sustainable, resulting in significant improvements to the irrigation systems, and we continue to look for ways to be more efficient in water use, lighting and energy.

Other collaborations are with SPR, SAAM, neighbors and other organizations to provide input on the proposed remodel and expansion of the museum, as well as anticipating work on the Volunteer Park reservoir with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and SPR once future decisions are made about whether or not it will be maintained. And once that project is determined, we hope to work again with SPU and SPR on the Water Tower and the surrounding landscape.

Taking most of our attention right now is our work on replacing the existing performance stage with a new amphitheater that will be a much better venue for performing arts groups, allowing for more diverse programming, such as dance. The amphitheater will be relocated slightly to the north to allow for restoration of a path that was part of the Olmsted original plan. We are embarking on plans for a Capital Campaign with hopes to begin construction in the fall of 2018.

Volunteer Park Trust could not do all of this without the many volunteers who help us meet our goals. We also depend on donors, both individuals and organizations, who help us with capital projects such as the amphitheater as well as landscape projects and funding for operations. Some have asked why we do so much when the park is owned and managed by the city. In reality, the city cannot provide the additional care and attention we provide to make the park the best it can be. That is why Volunteer Park Trust will continue to work on behalf of the park and the diverse community of park users who enjoy its many beautiful qualities. For more information on Volunteer Park, the Trust, or how you can volunteer or donate, please check out our website at volunteerparktrust.org. 

Hope to see you in the park.