Starting the week of February 29, 2016, the Artesian Commons will be getting additional lights as a way of enhancing safety. At this time, completion for the project is scheduled for April 9.
Although lights in seven alleys were added in 2015 as a way of deterring crime, the people of Olympia have continued to make complaints of criminal activity at the Artesian Commons downtown park. With this being a place where people congregate to enjoy the outdoors, socialize, and bottle water from the historic well, more action is being taken.
According to Kip Summers, project manager, Betschart Electric has 45 calendar days to complete the project. Initially, asphalt will be cut, followed by the installation of lights for a total cost of $27,000.
During the construction period, Artesian Commons will be accessible from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. In addition, free water will be available 24-hours a day. Even though this park is a popular place for the community to hang out with friends, since opening in May of 2014 it has becoming increasingly less safe. Several unwanted behaviors have been noted, including smoking, vandalism, and more.
In 2015, the Artesian Leadership Committee was launched by the city of Olympia. Once people complained about unsavory behavior, the city posted signs listing hours for the park, installed a four-foot high fence, put in permanent tables and seats, added a basketball hoop, and even installed security cameras. To enhance the park’s experience, various events take place throughout the year such as live performances and a summer concert series.
Now, the city feels that added lighting will reduce problematic behavior at Artesian Commons. After hiring Betschart Electric in 2015, it was decided that LED lighting fixtures would be added to the seven alleys, areas downtown identified by usage and crime trends. Once the work was finished, continuing problems were reported by nearby business owners in a Parking and Business Improvement Area survey.
Business owners felt the majority of areas were fine but some still presented potential risk. In particular, the artesian well on 4th Avenue has become a trouble spot where people congregate most and present intimidating, as well as aggressive behavior toward business staff and customers. As one business owner stated, when he was in the area recently, he saw a man using the well as a shower, even using soap.