WRPA 2018 Annual Conference and Tradeshow

"How to Build Your Own Safe and Secure Parks Initiative"


Return to Conference Schedule

Date/Time: Thursday, May 3 | 2:25 - 3:40PM

Speakers: Sylvana Niehuser, Olympia Parks & Recreation

Category: Maintenance

Description: Over the last decade, public parks and facilities have experienced a dramatic increase in illicit behaviors which threaten the safety and security of our patrons and employees. These behaviors are tied to a challenging web of deeply rooted societal issues related to substance abuse, reduced support for mental health, and homelessness. Although the root causes of these issues are well beyond the scope of providing parks and recreation services, our departments are often overwhelmed as we attempt to manage the unintended impacts of these societal problems in our park systems. The perception of our parks is paramount to our success. If our citizens do not perceive our parks and facilities as a safe environment, they will not use them. If they do not use our parks and facilities, they will not value them and we will lose critical support on all levels. This workshop will outline the ongoing process utilized in Olympia to create the Safe and Secure Parks Initiative. It will provide participants with the knowledge base and inspiration to create their own initiative aimed at dealing with societal issues and illicit behaviors that are impacting our public park systems everywhere.

Learning Objectives:

  • Demonstrate an ongoing process that empowers front-line employees to creatively turn daily frustrations into solution-based strategies.

  • Prepare individuals to create a method of capturing and presenting data to inform future decisions and advocate for enhanced resources.

  • Provide individuals with practical strategies related to: policy development, operational changes, and resource allocation; all designed to improve park and facility safety.


Sylvana Niehuser is the supervisor of the Park Stewardship Program at the City of Olympia. She oversees the Park Rangers, Environmental Education and Volunteers in Parks. Recently she served as co-chair on the WRPA Risk Management Committee from 2016-1018. Sylvana is actively involved in community safety and serves as the vice chair of Crime Stoppers of South Sound. Sylvana has a bachelor of arts degree from The Evergreen State College where she focused her studies in the social sciences.

Return to Conference Schedule