Will The OSD Become “Berry Killers”?

Oscar E. Pecan, Writer

This summer marks the 40th anniversary of Tim and Sue Spooner selling their fresh, local-grown berries to the people of Washington. With the effects and closures of the Covid-19 pandemic winding down, brings the return of the strawberry “U-Pick” field this June at their premier location on Yelm Highway. But on March 22nd, the Olympia City Council voted unanimously to negotiate a partnership with the Olympia School District to locate and construct a school adjacent to a proposed Yelm Highway Community Park on that very U-Pick Site. The Spooners, who apparently have been left out of the conversation so far, aren’t confident about the future of their berry farm that sits at the edge of the 83-acre property. The City of Olympia purchased the property that the stand and U-Pick field sit on back in 2018 for 10.7 million dollars, but have leased the site to The Spooners since. Since then, ideas and concepts for the proposed park have been going back and forth on their layouts and vary in whether or not the berry stand will lie within its boundaries. The city has yet to approve a sale to the OSD for the property, but if they do, it’s up to the OSD on whether or not they will continue a lease of the property to the Spooners. And though any construction plans from the city or the OSD are years out, apparently, the Spooners feel left out of the conversation. In a talk with local newspaper The Olympian, Sue Spooner said the city was good to work with, until the decision was made to continue negotiations with the OSD. She said she hasn’t heard anything from the OSD on their plans for the property. Laura Keehan, Parks Planner for the city of Olympia, who also spoke with The Olympian said what is being sold to the OSD includes all the property Spooner Berry farms currently uses. She said there are still many decisions to be made in the future and many conversations to have, but she hopes the three organizations can work together in the future. “With construction of a school still 10-15 years out, we’ve got time to do it.” Keehan said. “The city of Olympia does not want to be known as ‘the berry killer’”.