Threats and violence force city to close Artesian Commons Park in Olympia

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Ongoing threats and violence forced city workers to close down a Artesian Commons Park in downtown Olympia.

"Primarily a drug problem, criminal activity, predators, innocent people here being taken advantage of,” said Eric Smith.

Eric Smith owns Pet Works, which backs up to the problematic park. He said workers worry about their safety.

"Trying to open the store and do their job and having to call somebody to deal with the hazmat problems, the needles and the bodily fluids,” he said.

Park workers were also at risk. Parks, Arts and Recreation Director Paul Simmons said the threats were serious and escalating.

“In very recent weeks we have had very specific and increased threats to our staff. There have been email threats to neighboring businesses from folks in and around the park,” he said.

Simmons said the city of Olympia added seasonal park rangers, security cameras, extra lighting and even activities to try to turn the troubled park into a safe spot for the community. He’s disappointed it didn't work out.

“Our parks are supposed to enhance the quality of life for people around them. It's supposed to make businesses better, it's supposed to make property values increase,” Simmons said. "Unfortunately the challenges surrounding this one are doing the opposite."

Which is unfortunate for people Cory Gerich, who used this park every day.

“It was really nice and all that's gone and it's sad that it's the few that ruined it for the many,” he said.

Although the park is closed, the popular Artesian Well and the 24-hour restroom remain open.

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