Olympia decides artesian well should be city park

Designation was next step in council’s $153,000 plan to transform site by spring

Staff writerJuly 24, 2013 

Bob Nedrow fills one of 13 plastic water jugs he brought down to the Artesian Well site near 4th Ave. during one of his regular water stops there. A life-long Olympia area resident Nedrow is grateful the well site has remained an open and accessible community resource.The city of Olympia is considering a plan to revamp its Artesian Well that includes adding a stage, tables and chairs, ping-pong table and mobile food vendors.(STEVE BLOOM/staff photographer)

STEVE BLOOM — Staff photographer

The Olympia City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to designate the downtown artesian well as a city park.

The designation means the well, which sits in a parking lot off Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street, will be maintained by the city’s parks department. It also means the parks department can create rules and regulations for the park, associate parks director David Hanna said.

“I think ultimately this looks like a good plan” for the well, Councilwoman Jeannine Roe said.

The council voted in June to transform the parking lot into a host site for an array of food trucks, a stage, moveable tables and chairs, a portable toilet and other new features. The estimated cost: $153,000.

Construction is planned to begin late this year, with a grand opening sometime in the spring.

In the meantime, the lot will continue to be used for parking. Some parking will be retained under the park plan.

In addition to the parks department, the city probation work crew and the city’s downtown ambassadors would maintain the park.

Council members were supportive of the park designation but had some concerns.

Councilman Steve Langer doesn’t want people taking showers and doing laundry at the well, using soap that ends up in the city’s sanitary sewer. He said rules should address that.

Langer also said he’s concerned about clear access to the well for people getting water. Hanna said eight to nine parking spaces will be available for that purpose.

The city plans to sign leases with food trucks through a competitive process, and the truck operators will maintain the tables and chairs.

Roe questioned why the public bathroom is in a corner of the park. Hanna said the bathroom has to be 100 feet away from the well.

Mayor Stephen Buxbaum voted for the park, even though he’d earlier voted against the plan for improving the area, because a parks advisory board recommended it, he said. But he still has concerns about the ongoing cost of the plan.

“I am very interested in seeing a business plan and how we’re going to proceed, particularly in ways of operating this park in collaboration with surrounding businesses,” he said.

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