Officials in Olympia are offering money for projects to clean up downtown — and clean up its image.
The city of Olympia and the Olympia Downtown Alliance have put out a request for proposals for design projects to “achieve crime prevention and improved positive perception” of downtown, according to the ODA.
Examples given include alley or storefront lighting, alcove gates, security cameras and ways to manage solid waste.
The projects will be funded by a $75,000 federal grant to the city for community development, which will be distributed in the form of grants and no-interest loans. The deadline to submit proposals is April 1.
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The ODA will review and select projects for funding. Among the group’s priorities this year is advocating for a clean, safe and vibrant downtown. (Formerly the Olympia Downtown Association, the group announced it changed its name to the Olympia Downtown Alliance this month.)
In a 2017 survey commissioned by the city, 78 percent of respondents rated downtown as clean and safe during the day, but only 37 percent said that was true at night.
Dillinger’s Cocktails and Kitchen on Washington Street paid to have an alcove gate installed about three years ago that protects the restaurant’s door and windows from vandalism and keeps people from sleeping there. But co-owner Lela Cross said customers would feel more comfortable with more lighting on Washington Street.
“Oh my gosh, it gets so dark,” she said.
Cross said Thursday she hadn’t heard there was money available for safety improvements but she is interested in applying.
This is the latest effort by the city to improve downtown. Earlier this year, it relaunched the Downtown Ambassadors and Clean Team, which had been run by a contractor. City leaders said they brought the program in-house to provide more oversight.
In the coming months, the Olympia Police Department will add more officers to its downtown walking patrol and create a mobile mental health team to work with police with funds raised through the public safety levy voters passed in November.