Current Projects

Lily Pond Fencing Project

Volunteer Park Trust is replacing the wire fencing around the North and South Lily Ponds with safe, permanent, beautifully designed metal rails.


Project Update

Lily Pond FencingThe new wrought iron fencing around both Lily Ponds in Volunteer Park is currently being installed.  The main fencing has already been bolted in, and now the crew at Ace Iron Works is hard at work at making the gates that will allow access into the ponds for maintenance.  The project is expected to be completed in mid-October.

Our design, based on current and historical fencing in Olmsted parks, successfully passed reviews by  the City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board and its Architectural Review Committee, and was approved by Seattle Parks and Recreation.

Our PubDesign Presentationlic Presentation of Design occurred on July 19 from 6-8 PM at Summer Picnic in Volunteer Park. The public was able to visit our Design Booth at this fun community-wide event, ask questions, and see the final construction drawings for the fencing. 


Dept of Neighborhoods Logo

Volunteer Park Trust was awarded a $46,500 Neighborhood Matching Funds grant to help fund this project from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.  The grant requires a match of $23,250 in cash, volunteer time, and donated professional services. The project is currently estimated to cost just under $70,000.

Associated Recreation Council donated $2,826 towards our match and thanks to generous individual donors to our 2017 Fall Campaign we have met our match requirements!

Project Info

Volunteer Park Lily Pond FenceCurrent Conditions: The current barrier surrounding both ponds is made of insubstantial, low-quality, 27″ tall wire fencing which has been badly battered over time. This barrier is more decorative than useful; it is easily stepped on and stepped over, and readily pulls up out of the ground.

A Beautiful Replacement: The Trust will replace this with a thoughtfully designed, 28″ high, permanent, metal fencing running around the circumference of both ponds. 

Safety First: Although the new fencing will help to protect all people, we are particularly concerned about keeping children safe. Both ponds, with their beautiful water plants, swimming goldfish, blooming water lilies, and nesting ducks are a delightful and powerful attraction for children of all ages.  Safety issues for children at the Lily Ponds go back over a hundred years:


Duck RampDucks & Ducklings: The fencing project will have no impact on ducks in the lily ponds. Seattle Parks and Recreation will continue their practice of providing seasonal ramps for ducklings.  The fence design will allow ducklings to easily pass through the bars.

Our new fencing will provide a proper, sturdy safety barrier and enhance the refined beauty of our park for everyone to enjoy.

You can read a related article in the Capitol Hill Times.


Proposed fencing design

Light Pole PaintingVolunteer Park Lighting Improvement Project

Volunteer Park Trust is working in partnership with Seattle Parks & Recreation and Seattle Public Utilities to improve the lighting throughout Volunteer Park.

Dim & Damaged: Until recently, Volunteer Park’s 40 street lamps used inefficient sodium bulbs. Their decades-old lamp globes were dirty, damaged, and blocked too much light.

A Bright Solution: Now all the park’s street lamps have been replaced with modern, brighter, energy efficient, LED bulbs, broken lamp globes have been replaced, and the dirty globes cleaned. We now have a brighter, safer park after sunset.

Our next step is to have all the metal poles painted. Volunteer Park Trust and Seattle Parks and Recreation have contracted with New Finishes, Inc. to complete electrostatic painting of the poles, including:

  • Moss removal and sanding
  • Iron phosphate treatment on any rust
  • Electrostatic epoxy primer
  • Electrostatic 2-component urethane topcoat

The poles will all be painted a uniform color that will be based on the current paint color.   As a “maintenance” project, the pole repainting does not require Seattle Landmarks Board review.

New Finishes, Inc. has worked with Seattle Parks and Recreation to coordinate work zones and manage safety with a minimal impact on events the park.

This project is nearly complete and expected to be completed by mid October 2018. The result will be a more beautiful park for all to enjoy.

You can read a related article in the Capitol Hill Times.

Amph and Sign for Public MeetingAmphitheater Project

With community support, Volunteer Park Trust is determined to do what it takes to replace the existing Amphitheater with a more functional and beautiful performance space that will greatly enhance the audience experience.

We are proud of our Amphitheater Project accomplishments to date, with thanks to funding from Seattle Department of Neighborhoods:

  • 2015 – Hired project leads ORA Architects and Walker Macy Landscape Architects and completed the Feasibility Study & Design Program  with extensive outreach to neighbors, park users, the general public, and over 30 performance and community groups.
  • 2016 Completed the conceptual schematic designs for new Amphitheater.
  • 2017 – Completed initial schematic design for the new Amphitheater approved by community groups, performance companies, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and by Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board.
  • 2018 – Began preparations and fundraising for Design Development to produce the final schematic designs, construction drawings, and permits.

With its broad lawns, historic buildings, central location, and ample parking, Volunteer Park is a city-wide destination for gatherings, concerts, rallies, and celebrations.  The new Amphitheater will support a wide range of performances including plays, concerts, classical music, spoken word — and it will be the only public outdoor venue in Seattle with a roof,  and the only public outdoor venue in Seattle to support dance.

Do you want the Volunteer Park Amphitheater Project to succeed?

Message us to learn how you can get involved! Contact Jeff Rinedahl:

Read more about the Amphitheater Project including detailed history, links to design documents and news articles, as well as letters of community support at our Amphitheater Project page here.

VP-Sustainability-Coalition-Sustainability-Report.pdfVolunteer Park Sustainability Coalition

Sust Coal LOGOS

The Coalition is comprised of Volunteer Park Trust, the Friends of the Conservatory, and  Seattle Asian Art Museum. Its mission is to make the infrastructure of the Park and its institutions more efficient and environmentally sound. The Sustainability Coalition works closely with Seattle Parks & Recreation, Seattle Public Utilities, and conservation groups to make Volunteer Park a standard for the intelligent and cost effective use of resources.

The Coalition commissioned Young Architects LLC to draft a Park Sustainability Improvement Measures study. This study examines existing infrastructure in the park and identifies potential improvements in water and energy use that will make the Park more sustainable, reduce long term costs, and improve environmental impacts.

Recently, the Volunteer Park Sustainability Coalition was awarded a $25,000 Small and Simple Neighborhood Matching Fund Grant by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The funds paid for a park-wide water capture and reuse feasibility study as the first facet of implementation of the Improvement Measures Study.

The feasibility study will build on water-usage-related areas in the preliminary report including:

  • Storm water management
  • Water efficient landscaping
  • Innovative waste water technologies
  • Water use reduction
  • Rain water harvesting
  • Gray water re-use: potentially using water from the wading pool for irrigating the grounds

Volunteer Park Sustainability Improvement Measures Report
Young | Architecture LLC      PDF Document – 1,108 KB

Dept of Neighborhoods Logo

Volunteer Park Landscaping

Parkwide Landscaping

We plan to undertake a series of restoration and replanting projects throughout Volunteer Park in the years ahead based on the original Olmsted Brothers’ planting plans. Thanks to grants from Seattle Garden Club, the Peach Foundation, and Wyman Youth Trust, we’ve already completed the projects below.  Now we are already well under way in restoring the terraced lawns facing Volunteer Park’s western views and continue the work around both eastern shoulders of the reservoir.

SGC Garden BedSeattle Garden Club Bed Completed!

In 2015, Volunteer Park Trust received a grant from Seattle Garden Club to restore a major bed in Volunteer Park that had been long overgrown and neglected. Now we are proud to announce the completion of the Seattle Garden Club Garden!

The project location, southeast of the South Lily Pond, is a large landmarked planting with established spruce and cedar trees and native ground cover. Our goal for the grant funds was to reshape the beds to the original Olmsted plan and cultivate the open areas.  We planted compact Forsythia, roses, Cotoneaster, Daphne, Hypericum and Potentilla, echoing the yellow palette called for by the 1910 Olmsted planting plan. To complete this major project, we had to:

Seattle Garden Club bed planting

Getting ready to set plants in the Seattle Garden Club bed.

  • Create a formal, approved planting plan working in concert with Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks, Seattle Landmarks Board, and Seattle Parks & Recreation.
  • Remove invasive plants and remove, prune, and reposition overgrown plants.
  • Install the basic irrigation framework and make sure that irrigation heads cover specific plants.
  • Prepare the planting soil, obtain and install new plants, and mulch the planted beds.
  • Develop and implement a long-term maintenance plan for managing the bed into the future.

During the Volunteer Park Trust 2016 Spring Restoration Day, we removed major overgrown rhododendrons and did intensive pruning, weeding and soil preparation. At our 2016 Fall Restoration Day and at an additional work day with Microsoft volunteers, we completed the final weeding and edging, and planted over 100 new plants.

Now in springtime the Seattle Garden Club Garden will bloom into the blazing field of yellow that the Olmsted Brothers intended.

Peach Final PICPeach Garden II Completed!

In June of 2015, Volunteer Park Trust received a grant from the Peach Foundation to design and install the second part of the Peach Garden. The garden is located northwest of the north Lily Pond on the main concourse of Volunteer Park.

Over the next two years, Volunteer Park Trust:

  • Prepared scaled drawings of existing plants, soil type, and light exposures. We have located and consulted with the original planting designs from 1910.
  • Consulted with Seattle Parks and Recreation landscape design review board regarding existing trees and shrubs; appropriate shrubs for planting that are similar to the original Olmsted design but requiring less sun; as well as the shape of the planting beds.
  • Organized volunteer clean up events to clear and prepare the site and, working with Seattle Parks staff, cleared the area of invasive plants, mulched, and prepared the bed for planting.
  • Commissioned an irrigation review and plan to assure sufficient watering of the garden.
  • Completed irrigation upgrades
  • Planted the bed

The bed is now fully installed and Volunteer Park Trust is dedicated to weeding and maintaining the park’s newest fully restored garden bed!

Volunteer Park Irrigation ProjectIrrigation Project Completed!

Thanks to a grant from the Pendleton & Elisabeth Carey Miller Charitable Foundation, our first irrigation repair and extension project was completed in late 2015 near the Watertower. Gone are the leaky pipes at the south end of the park, and the long-dry garden beds now have water piped to them.  As we add new beds and improve plantings in Volunteer Park, irrigation upgrades and expansion will be a continual part of our ongoing projects.

A big thank you goes to those who have and are contributing to these projects!

For information on the Reservoir, Water Tower, and more, see our Future Projects page.