Current Projects

Volunteer Park Lily Pond FenceLily 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.

Funding Update

Dept of Neighborhoods Logo

Volunteer Park Trust has been 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 has committed to donating $2,826 towards our match and thanks to generous individual donors to our 2017 Fall Campaign we have met our match requirements!

Project Info

Current Conditions: The current barrier surrounding both ponds is made of insubstantial, low-quality, 14″ tall wire fencing which has been badly battered over time. This once-beautiful 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 crafted, 30″ high, permanent, metal fencing running the circumference of both ponds.  Our working design is below.  As we move forward with the project, we will get design approvals from Seattle Parks & Recreation and from Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks.

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.

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

Volunteer Park Lamp PostsVolunteer 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: Volunteer Park’s 40 street lamps currently use inefficient sodium bulbs. Their decades-old lamp globes are dirty, damaged, and restrict too much light. The lamp poles are all in need of a fresh coat of paint.

A Bright Solution: Volunteer Park Trust will be replacing the light bulbs in all the park’s street lamps with modern, brighter, energy efficient, LED bulbs. Every lamp post will also get new lamp globes, and the poles will all be painted.

The result will be a brighter, safer park after sunset. And a more beautiful park for all to enjoy during the day.

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 final schematic design for the new Amphitheater approved by community groups, performance companies, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and by Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board.

Volunteer Park Trust is now applying for major funding for the Amphitheater Project. And we need your help!  We seek letters of support from neighborhood associations, district and community councils.

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 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 Crandall:

Read more about the Amphitheater Project including detailed history, links to design documents and news articles, as well as funding/marketing updates 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.What We DoThe 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 (gray water reuse is now legal in Washington state for suSeattle Department of Neighborhoodsbsurface irrigation)

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


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.