Artesian Commons Park might reopen as an open air market

Parking & Business Improvement Area discussing a partnership with the city of Olympia to make “useless” destination live again


Olympia's Parking & Business Improvement Area (PBIA) is contemplating partnering with the city's economic development department to reopen and use the Artesian Commons Park, which was shut down in 2018.

Strategic project manager Amy Buckler, who also serves as PBIA's staff liaison, suggested the partnership during the discussion on the 2023 work plan at the PBIA meeting on Wednesday, January 4.

"We have heard from other stakeholders that they would like the Artesian Commons to reopen to provide some public benefit for downtown and not have it be a vacant space behind a fence," Buckler explained.

The city closed about 90 percent of Artesian Commons Park indefinitely in 2018, citing safety issues. The city fenced off the artesian water well, leaving it accessible from the alley behind the park, between Fourth and Fifth Avenues.

Buckler said that the Creative District is looking at giving priority to artists a place to sell their wares and a space for people to congregate for events.

"[Economic Development director] Mike Reid and I asked the city council for $75,000 to marry those two ideas," Buckler said, adding they would put out a request for proposals (RFP) from organizations that could provide a vision and an implementation plan.

Buckler said the PBIA could contribute its $45,000 allotted fund for the special downtown project.

"[The fund] could be used for physical improvements to the space like, for example, putting a covering over the area with some lights or enter a contract with an organization to manage the space for a year or two," remarked Buckler.

For this project, the PBIA's role is to identify a project and potential partner and provide direction to staff regarding implementation.

The staff also requested PBIA members to serve on the Request for Proposal (RFP) review and selection committees.

Most PBIA members expressed interest in the partnership and the project.

"It is about time we bring it back. It has been sitting empty and useless for too long," PBIA vice chair Jacob David commented. He volunteered to serve on the review or selection committee.

Anne Gavzer inquired about the possibility of taking down the fence at the Artesian Commons.

Buckler said the fence would only be taken down once they have a new plan for the area. "The fence that's there now is pretty unattractive. But we might want to figure out a way to secure the space which isn't being used."

She said the vision is not keeping the area open all day, every day. It would only be open for events that will be contracted with another organization to manage.


4 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • AugieH

    One hopes the "vision" for the site includes keeping the "housing challenged" from camping there and creating another open-air garbage dumpster.

    Saturday, January 7, 2023 Report this

  • RobertWalz0865

    Please make sure the area is protected and safe. Taking care of the "housing challenged" by providing a source where they could bathe and hang out would be a great idea!

    This would leave the artesian well available for drinking water with which lots of residents rely!!

    Saturday, January 7, 2023 Report this

  • BobSchmelter

    Keep the basketball court, please.

    I would suggest two or three mobile food carts, an ice cream cart and clean, working toilettes.

    More green grass area.

    Several picnic tables.

    Weekly musical events & pay the musicians. Small stage?

    Good video surveillance.

    No parking area if front.

    Use of Olympias friendly stewards.

    Several park benches.

    Chess board table(s).

    Park manager..maybe.

    Do something better with the black painted building adjoining.

    A covered area would be great.

    Something special could be done with this park, we all know it would be much better than it's current condition.

    Please proceed with thought and diligence. I am really glad the city is looking at reopening in a better way.

    Monday, January 9, 2023 Report this


    It would be awesome to also include recreational opportunities. For example, concrete beautifully created table tennis tables by Henge Tables.

    Monday, January 9, 2023 Report this