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By Lorilyn C. Lirio

The pre-submission conference for the proposed project for Rebecca Howard Park was postponed yesterday, August 31, by the Olympia Site Plan Committee. The project would provide community members with a place of peace, healing, education and inspiration.

According to the assistant director of community planning and development, Tim Smith, the city’s parks department is currently working on some design considerations. He said the committee would review the project in the future.

In a description submitted by parks planner Sarah Giannobile, the most significant change in the project is the conversion of a section of 9th Avenue into a park, between Olympia Timberland Library Alley in the southeast corner and the residential driveway to the west, which would increase Rebecca Howard Park. size at about 0.6 acres.

“The Olympia Parks Planning Department is exploring options to develop this park into a space that celebrates and honors the black pioneers of the Olympia area. The goal of this park design is to provide the community with a place of peace, healing, education and inspiration – centered on the stories of the black pioneers of Olympia,” the account said.

The park design includes:

A quiet reflective space for reading, writing, etc. Two sharing spaces (in small groups) – one for children and one for adults – to provide spaces for sharing stories, life experiences, listening and dialogue. Simple structures are provided for seating and small group interaction.

A large lawn for the connection. Shows, festivals, events and community space for food, stories and music. Perhaps a stage or performance space for a big event.

A space for healing and growth – an oasis of calm with healing gardens, ethnobotany, medicinal plants, etc.

A space for inspiration, action and art. A place where people can express their individual and collective energies. This area may contain works of art, interpretive panels and/or interactive elements (instruments, etc.).

In 2021, the city named the park Rebecca Howard Park, after an early black settler who owned and operated the Pacific House Hotel from the late 1850s to the 1870s in Olympia. Rebecca has earned a reputation as a savvy businesswoman, excellent hostess and avid community promoter.