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Parks and Recreation

Below are selected “Ask MRSC” inquiries we have received from local governments throughout Washington State related to parks and recreation. Click on any question to see the answer.

These questions are for educational purposes only. All questions and answers have been edited and adapted for posting to the MRSC website, and all identifying information, including the inquirer’s name and agency name, has been removed.

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Officials and employees from eligible government agencies can use our free one-on-one inquiry service, Ask MRSC. With one call or click you can get a personalized answer from one of our trusted attorneys, policy consultants, or finance experts!


Does MRSC have guidance on contracting for design/fabrication/installation of public artworks? Are contracts for the commission of public artworks considered "public works" subject to competitive contracting procedures? Are such contracts subject to prevailing wage requirements?
Reviewed: January 2022

We have several examples of art policies on our Arts Commissions and Programs page. Those programs talk about the process of selecting art both as part of an agency construction project and as stand-alone acquisitions.

For the contracting piece, MRSC has historically said that the acquisition of public art, including its design, are not “public works.” In response to a previous inquiry, we said:

  • Where artwork is fabricated and installed, if the artwork is not an integral, functional part of a building or structure it would not be subject to public works bidding requirements or prevailing wages if completed by the artist. Along those same lines, if there is a part of the installation that is clearly not art (such as installation of a foundation or construction related work to prepare for some artwork), that arguably should be treated as a public work and bid out.

Likewise, if the installation is a part of the building or structure the installation is probably subject to prevailing wage requirements, while a stand-alone installation may not be. But as always, we recommend checking with the Department of Labor & Industries on prevailing wage questions.

Finally, here is a sample contract: Temporary Loan of Sculpture Contract – Olympia (2014).

(Link to this question)

Can someone spread cremated human remains in a public park?
Reviewed: January 2018

State law allows the scattering of remains in this manner, provided the person seeking to spread the ashes obtains permission. RCW 68.50.130 provides (emphasis added):

Every person who performs a disposition of any human remains, except as otherwise provided by law, in any place, except in a cemetery or a building dedicated exclusively for religious purposes, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Disposition of cremated human remains may also occur on private property, with the consent of the property owner; and on public or government lands or waters with the approval of the government agency that has either jurisdiction or control, or both, of the lands or waters.

Note, that if the scattering is not being done by a close relative (spouse, adult child, parent, sibling) or by an authorized representative of the deceased person, a permit from the state cemetery board is required. See RCW 68.05.195.

Several national parks have information about spreading ashes within a park. There are certain rules one must follow, and a person has to obtain permission to do so. See, e.g., Yosemite National Park’s webpageon scattering cremated remains.

The agency operating the park could consider adopting a formal policy or ordinance regarding the scattering of ashes on its public property, or it could grant permission on a case-by-case basis and ask the person to adhere to any conditions that the agency thinks appropriate. For more information, see MRSC’s Cemeteries and Cemetery Administration topic page.

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Request for sample ordinances that prohibit smoking of any kind—including tobacco and e-cigarettes—in city parks.
Reviewed: October 2017

Here are several examples of total or partial bans on smoking in city parks. Some also specifically include e-cigarettes.


Partial Bans

(Link to this question)

Does MRSC have any sample code provisions related to urban farms?
Reviewed: October 2017

Here are some sample code provisions from jurisdictions in Washington State:

In addition, the following information may be of interest:

(Link to this question)