When Olympia founding father Edmund Sylvester plotted the city out, he carefully included a common area for the public to gather. Yet what’s known today as Sylvester Park is anything but a common area. It has become a gathering place for a very select group of individuals. Horror stories about various types of refuse found in the park, both natural and man-made, have become local urban legend.
Whether or not the truth has been lost to the natural tendency to exaggerate when distressed is irrelevant. The perception that Sylvester Park is no longer a common area - and available for the safe and pleasant use of all town residents - seems to be cemented in the greater consciousness of town residents.
On nights when the park is not overtaken by the force of a large crowd (as with Music in the Park), it seems to have been abandoned to the forces of various social ills. Whether those ills are right or wrong is not the question. The question is whether town residents are willing and able to find a way to reclaim the space for the enjoyment and use of all town residents and passerby, night or day. It belongs to all of us, and it’s time we started taking better care of it.