Olympia calls on creative solutions! Not fences.
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The City Council has approved a 4-foot-tall gated fence around the Artesian Commons Park — one leg running along 4th Ave, and the other along the south end, tightly crooking around the well patio.
The intention of the south fence is to establish a perimeter so the police can enforce park hours at night while keeping the well water available 24/7. The City reasons that if the park is closed, crime and maintenance issues will abate.
This is an example of the fear-based planning that has guided decisions from the start. The City has created a park with no place to sit and nothing to do. The park was opened before the completion of its original plans and has remained in that state for almost a year. The people who use the park are those willing to spend time sitting against a concrete wall. If we want to change the behavior at the well, we have to change the energetics of the space.We believe the unintended consequences of the south fence will create a much bigger problem than it solves.
We, community members who value the Artesian Commons Park and the Artesian Well, cannot support a fence along the south end of the park, for the following reasons:
1. The fence will create crowding around the well and adjacent parking spaces—especially at night—which negates the goal of making the well comfortable and accessible for people collecting water. A fence also cuts off the water—the central and original reason for a park—from the rest of the park.
2. The fence sends the wrong message. The addition of fences with high walls on all sides will make the park feel caged in, promoting negative behavior during open hours.
3. It’s costly, unnecessary and ineffective. With a price tag over $30,000, the fence is intended to address safety and security concerns. The park is currently surveilled 24 hours a day. The OPD has reported an increase in calls to the well at night, but this short sighted solution will only push that behavior onto the other side of the fence or out into the downtown community.
We believe there are more effective alternatives the community can support. However, installing a fence on the south end would be a costly mistake and does nothing to promote the creation of a positive culture at the Artesian Commons.
There are positive things happening! This Spring we will see the inclusion of a basketball hoop which will provide much needed recreation for downtown users and residents. We applaud the City Council for taking this positive step forward.
The problems of the Artesian Commons are the problems of this entire community. This is not a problem we can throw money at or police our way out of. This unique public space needs more community involvement! We need YOU to care about the park and find productive ways to spend time there. We call on yoga instructors, gardeners, food vendors, makers, musicians, djs and dancers, chess players, artesian enthusiasts, volunteer clean up crews, artists and basketball players with excellent sportsmanship to spend time at the Artesian Commons! We call on creative solutions! We call on the Power of 10! (http://www.pps.org/reference/the-power-of-10/)
We respectfully ask the city council to honor our community’s need for a more thoughtful and creative solution and revoke the catastrophic plans for a fence on the south end of the Artesian Commons. The park needs recreation, benches, and signage that reflects our community values. The rest is up to us.