Olympia council approves grants for 5 out of 6 neighborhood improvement projects

OlympianMay 27, 2014 

Linda and Dan Talen helped get the Capital Vision Community Garden growing.

JOHN DODGE — Staff writer

The Olympia City Council unanimously approved grants Tuesday for five neighborhood improvement projects, but delayed a sixth until the city's arts commission can review the plan.

For the 2014 Neighborhood Matching Grant Program, the council considered six projects totaling $20,937. Associate planner Michelle Sadlier told the council Tuesday that the community groups that applied for the money will match the city's contribution with their own efforts.

"There will be a lot of sweat equity in these projects," Sadlier said.

The project that came under council scrutiny was a $4,000 request from the Olympia Downtown Association to paint a mural in the Jefferson Street alley near the artesian well. Sadlier noted that the mural would be painted on a private building and would not be publicly owned.

Councilman Jim Cooper said this particular project raised a red flag because the city is "spending money on art without going through the arts commission." Cooper suggested delaying approval of the ODA's $4,000 grant until the arts commission can make a recommendation.

Mayor Stephen Buxbaum said a deferral of this grant would provide a chance to clarify any policy issues surrounding the project before the council approves the grant.

Public works director Rich Hoey said the city plans to install new asphalt in the alley this summer in conjunction with the ODA's proposed effort to beautify the alley.

The successful project proposals were:

- The Bigelow Neighborhood Association will use a $4,000 grant toward improvements at Bigelow Springs Park, including major excavation work and the installation of benches and new walking paths.

- The Bigelow Highlands Neighborhood Association plans to use $4,000 toward the purchase of 12 nut trees and eight fruit trees at the Capital Vision Community Garden. The neighborhood wants to relocate its main bulletin board to the garden. In addition, the neighborhood plans to hold emergency response training for 25 residents.

- The Cooper Crest Neighborhood Association in west Olympia will receive $2,000 to put toward new drought-resistant vegetation and native plant retention.

- The Hidden Creek Neighborhood Association in west Olympia will use a $3,276 grant to install a rain garden to reduce flooding in the common area and limit the load on the city's storm water system.

- The Northeast Neighborhood Association will use a $3,660 grant toward the annual "Love Our Local Fest" and a new mural near the San Francisco Street Bakery. The association will also repaint a mandala - a circular painting inspired by Eastern spiritual traditions.

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 or ahobbs@theolympian.com

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