Wednesday, October 19, 2016

New Plans for Olympia’s “Mistake on the Lake:” Residential, Restaurant, Gym, Pool

Above: Looking north from the switchback trail on the State Capitol Campus toward downtown Olympia, Budd Inlet and the Olympic Mountains, a vacant, nine story building stands in the middle of the view. Local developer Ken Brogan says he is under contract to purchase the former office building and proposes to redevelop it into a mixed use residential apartment complex.

By Janine Gates

Ken Brogan soon hopes to be the new owner of the nine story building in downtown Olympia, best known by critics as The Mistake on the Lake, and has a full set of plans for it. 

Others have been working for years toward its possible demolition to restore the original, open scenic view north to Budd Inlet and the Olympic Mountains.

Brogan met with city staff on Wednesday morning to discuss redevelopment of the two parcel site, which includes the nine story building and another vacant, one story building. 

The nine story building is also known as the Capitol Center Building, and The Views on 5th.

The proposed development would convert the nine story building to a mixed use project containing 136 apartment units, and a 6,364 square foot restaurant and cafĂ©. 

The one story building nearby would be rebuilt into a new three story structure with an underground parking structure for residents, administrative offices, a rooftop swimming pool, and a fitness gym along the frontage of 4th Avenue, which would be open to the public.  It is uncertain if the pool would be open to the public.

The parcels are bounded by 4th Avenue West, 5th Avenue SW, Simmons Street SW, just south of Bayview Market, and Sylvester St. SW, which is next to the Heritage Park Fountain.

Built in 1965 and vacant for over ten years, the blighted nine story building has had a long and tortuous history, and at this rate, despite its location, is old enough to be of interest to historic preservationists for its mid-century architecture.

Homeless individuals currently sleep in and around the buildings and windows are often broken. Brogan, who has not yet taken ownership of the property, said that he and his team spend “everyday” trying to figure out what to do about the situation.

Above: Local developer Ken Brogan speaks with City of Olympia building official Todd Cunningham on Wednesday morning.

Nicole Floyd, city senior planner and manager for the project, led the discussion among key staff who took turns asking high level, clarifying questions, discussing codes, requirements, and concerns involving building, engineering, fire, urban forestry, and public works standards. 

Brogan submitted his plans to the city on September 28 and has not yet filed a land use application.

Among other comments, staff said a traffic impact analysis would be required, and the project would need to conform to the new Low Impact Development standards that will take effect December 1. Brogan said he anticipates submitting an application after that date and would comply with all current standards.

Staff expressed subtle and not so subtle enthusiasm about the project.

“It’s an exciting project, and an opportunity to clean up the area down there,” started city building official Todd Cunningham, who also admitted that the project was a complicated one. 

The building's height is non-conforming and is grandfathered into an area that has a current height limit of 35 feet, however, the structure cannot be enlarged or expanded in size.

There will be opportunities for public involvement throughout the land use process, which will start with a neighborhood meeting after Brogan submits a land use application. The project will be subject to State Environmental Policy Act review, which will be led by city senior planner Cari Hornbein.

Causing confusion for some is the fact that previously submitted plans for the building to be converted into a hotel are vested.

“The previous land use approval was for a hotel, which is still vested. That means an applicant can move forward with building permits to convert the existing building to a hotel. The new proposal is not vested. The applicant must file a new land use review application which must be approved by the city before building permits can be issued and the project constructed,” explained Tim Smith, principal planner for the City of Olympia, after the meeting.

The area is zoned Waterfront Urban – Housing. Smith says that no portion of the property is within shoreline jurisdiction.

Above: Waterfront indeed. A relatively tame storm surge from Budd Inlet spilled over onto Sylvester Street in downtown Olympia in March 2016, reaching 4th Avenue and the Oyster House restaurant. The nine story Capitol Center Building and another vacant building proposed to be redeveloped are in the flood zone. City officials told developer Ken Brogan on Wednesday that he will have to plan to accommodate a 16 foot sea level rise.

Jerry Reilly, chair of the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation, attended Wednesday’s meeting.

In an interview with Little Hollywood, Reilly praised the city’s purchase and demolition of two nearby, blighted buildings, in its effort toward the creation of a great civic space on the isthmus.

He is also pleased with the passage of last year’s ballot measure to create the city’s Metropolitan Park District that enabled the city’s purchase of Kaiser Heights, a wooded parcel near Ken Lake, and the LBA Woods. However, Reilly said he would like to remind councilmembers that a leading argument for the MPD’s passage was to also make more feasible the removal of the nine story building.

“Eleven months have gone by since over 60 percent of Olympia voters approved the creation of the Metropolitan Park District. One of the key selling points of the MPD was its potential to make more likely the removal of the Capitol Center Building.

“We may be on the verge of an historic missed opportunity to purchase and remove this building. The building is now at the bottom of its market value. The question now, most often heard from people regarding this building is, ‘Why was it allowed to be built in the first place?’  The question in the future may be, “Why didn't we remove it when we had the chance?

“The people of Olympia intensely dislike this building. They have told us this on many occasions, through an initiative signed by nearly 5,000 registered voters, a Trust for Public Lands poll, the Elway poll, and the positive vote for the MPD. If redevelopment proceeds, we will endure this Mistake on the Lake for another fifty years. Time is running out,” said Reilly.

As for Brogan’s designs, Reilly called them “interesting,” but questioned why he would want to remodel a building built on fill in a floodplain susceptible to liquefaction.

Little Hollywood’s attempts to speak with Brogan were somewhat unsuccessful.

After asking Brogan a few questions, he discontinued speaking with Little Hollywood after twice asking, “Do you support the project or are you opposed to the project?” Further conversation was apparently conditional on my response.

Little Hollywood responded, “If you read my writing, I try to be fair and offer new perspectives. I have fans on both sides of the issue. I tend to stick to the facts and let other people’s comments provide balance,” and suggested he read my articles.

Brogan did say that he thinks the nearby 123 4th Avenue building is a big compliment to downtown Olympia, and if given the opportunity to pursue his project, he would use local contractors.

Above: The interior of the Capitol Center Building is fully gutted. The windows on the first floor are often broken and a source of easy entry into the building.

For more interior photos and information about the Capitol Center Building, aka The Mistake on the Lake or The Views on 5th, hotel plans, the isthmus, scenic views, Jerry Reilly, the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation, the city’s Downtown Strategy, king tides and sea level rise, go to Little Hollywood and type key words into the search button. 

Story Clarifications, October 20: The original article made it sound like the underground garage would be under the nine story building. It would be beside it, as part of the three story building. Also, in preparation for sea level rise to 16 feet, the elevation is in relation to mean sea level, and the sidewalk at that location is about 12 feet.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Needed Repairs Overdue At Our National Parks

Above: Over 20 members from the Olympia, Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett chapters of The Mountaineers volunteered their time for several hours on Mt. Rainier National Park’s Paradise area trails last Saturday. The group used shovels and brooms to reclaim edges of paved trails covered with mud and gravel, took out rebar and rope guidelines along meadow trails, and placed erosion control checks along the newly repaved Skyline Trail.

By Janine Gates

While blizzard-like conditions swirled high on the Muir snowfields at Mt. Rainier National Park, over 20 members of the Olympia, Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett chapters of The Mountaineers worked several hours on trail maintenance at 5,420 feet last Saturday.

Under the direction of National Park Service trail maintenance staff Kevin Watson and Kenny Allen, the group finished the day by placing erosion control rocks and fill at regular intervals, about every four feet, along the steep, newly repaved Skyline Trail.

The rocks, called checks, if angled properly, help water flow in neat rivulets over, not under, the pavement, which would cause unintended erosion and unwanted culverts.

Just as their work was done, the rain started pouring and the checks quickly demonstrated their purpose. The Mountaineers cheered, satisfied that their efforts were effective.

“Burying the checks is one of the most time-consuming projects,” said Allen, who helped supervise the volunteers with good humor. After years of volunteering at projects along the Columbia River Gorge, this was his first season as a National Park Service trail maintenance crew member. 

Allen said more fill will be placed along the trail within a couple of weeks.

Above: Newly installed checks and fall colors on the Skyline Trail above the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise, Mt. Rainier National Park.

If only tackling Mt. Rainier National Park’s list of deferred maintenance projects was so easy.

The National Park System celebrated its centennial in 2016 with lots of well-deserved praise and 307 million visits last year, but with increasingly unreliable funding from the U.S. Congress, all eyes are now on the next 100 years.

It would appear that H.R. 3556, the National Park Service Centennial Act introduced last year, is stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives this 114th Session, and with it, hopes of securing funding to finance, preserve, and maintain access and public safety at the park system's 413 sites.

With 10,000 miles of roads, 18,000 miles of trails, 1,500 bridges, and more than 60 tunnels, the National Park System is $12 billion in the hole in deferred maintenance projects, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Deferred maintenance is the cost of maintenance which was not performed for at least a year from when it should have been or was scheduled to be.

Of the $12 billion, nearly six billion is transportation related, with $2.4 billion considered to be critical, high priority repairs for roads, bridges, trails, wastewater treatment and electric systems, and historical buildings, among other assets.

“Our national parks are a proven economic generator - $16 billion. These deferred maintenance projects are more than just a broken park bench,” said Marcia Argust, director, of Restore America’s Park, a dedicated program of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Argust briefed members of the Society for Environmental Journalists on the topic last month in Sacramento.

Above: Half-Dome at Yosemite National Park. Yosemite has $560 million in deferred maintenance projects, with more than $271 million related to access and transportation. According to the National Park Service, for every dollar invested in the NPS, $10 is returned to cities and towns. Park visitors spent an estimated $16.9 billion in gateway communities in 2015, supporting 295,300 jobs and $32 billion in economic activity nationwide.

Based on the park system's 2015 fiscal year numbers which were released in February 2016, Pew is creating 45 deferred maintenance case studies, including one on Washington State’s Mt. Rainier National Park. 

Using the park's numbers and asset categories, Mt. Rainier National Park has nearly $287 million in deferred maintenance costs - $286,949,885 to be exact.

With current boundaries at over 236 million acres, most of Mt. Rainier National Park's costs are, by far, for paved roads, about $194.9 million, followed by buildings, road bridges, electrical systems, trails, parking lots, landscaping, and water and wastewater systems. The park was established in 1899.

The last push to improve our national park system was during the creation of the National Highway system and the Mission 66 project after WWII. Congress gave money for facilities after huge lines for bathrooms and other inadequate assets resulted in public outcry.

Congress has the responsibility to provide safe national parks, and Pew is working to obtain dedicated annual funding through the Highway Trust Fund, $268 million a year, to address the park’s transportation issues. It is a fund reviewed every five years. It is also looking for policy reforms to prevent the backlog from escalating.

“People have expressed concerns about logos added to Mt. Rushmore, but there are more realistic options for private/public partnerships. We’d like to see corporations donate time and technology,” said Argust.

The site in need of the most finances for repairs is the National Mall, which needs an estimated $900 million. The Memorial Bridge in Arlington needs an estimated $250 million.

The worst case scenario is a total loss of access to a national park, monument, or site due to deferred maintenance and public safety issues.

The Atlanta birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr. was closed in August for floorboard and structural issues. The house was built in 1895 and it is unclear when the repairs will be completed.

Above: California’s Kings Canyon National Park visitor area at Grant Cove. The asphalt sidewalks and paths are in such disrepair that staff offer to assist park visitors and their luggage to cabins using golf carts. The total for Sequoia and Kings Canyon deferred maintenance projects is $162 million. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Locavore Mercantile Cooperative Opens on Steamboat Island

Above: Beth Mathews of Olympia will open a new, local cooperative for artists called Locavore Mercantile on Steamboat Island. Her grand opening is on Saturday.

By Janine Gates

A new local business will open on Steamboat Island just in time for holiday gift giving, and if all goes well, will continue to stay open in 2017.

Beth Mathews has opened a “pop-up” cooperative, Locavore Mercantile, featuring over 20 artists, located at the Steamboat Island exit just off Highway 101, at Steamboat Square, 6541 Sexton Drive NW, Olympia.

The cooperative features a local Steamboat Island business, Saucy Goodness Company, which makes all-natural hot and spicy chutney and related condiments, metal art by Dan and Landi Dial of Shelton, and many more multi-media artists who use clay, photography, paper, glass, textiles, and more to express their creativity.

Located between Subway and Flowers by Kristil, the shop will officially open on Saturday, October 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Regular hours will be 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

For $150, juried artists joined the cooperative for three months. The money pays for rent, utilities, and basic needs.

“I'm still getting a few more vendors in here, so things will fill up a little more this week,” said Mathews, who lives on Steamboat Island, during a tour of the shop on Monday.

Above: Bee Happy Organics of Tumwater has a wide selection of delicious smelling soaps, such as Rosemary Mint, Lemon Lavender, and Yippie Hippie. 

During the tour, jewelry artist Chris Kaitlyn of Olympia popped in to arrange and take pictures of her display.

A former art teacher in Alaska, and science teacher and school counselor in Washington, Kaitlyn described her jewelry as rustic bohemian. She’s looking forward to the grand opening.

“Beth’s done a fabulous job of setting this up! It’s come a long way since last week!” Kaitlyn said enthusiastically, admiring the shop and its new turquoise wall color.

Mathews, an archaeologist in cultural resource management, recently decided to take the plunge - she quit her job, and decided to focus solely on her art and form the cooperative. 

Her homemade jewelry and all-natural body care products and business, Nature Nouveau, is inspired by her scientific training. She has had a booth at the West Olympia Farmers' Market, Love Our Local Fest, and other venues throughout the region.

“About seven years ago, I started using art as a way to balance really intensely dry, scientific work. It became hard to shut down the desire to create things, and eventually, art became my part time job. People say, 'Don't quit your day job,' in the art world a lot, but it turned out that art was more stable than doing contract work in the cultural resource management industry,” laughed Mathews.

“It's always been funny to me that we cry “buy local, local, local,” but art shows, festivals, events, and markets are so temporary and time consuming to set up. I really was thinking, ‘This has to be easier! Can't we all just set up inside somewhere?’ The traditional shop idea seemed like such a novel idea after I'd been moving things around from market to market. And we have so many ultra-local, amazing creators near the shop. It's been really cool to see people coming together,” said Mathews.

As for after the holidays, Mathews says she would like to see the cooperative become permanent. Mathews is optimistic and passionate about the shop’s success. 

“We have a lot of artists who are interested in showing their work here, too many to fit, and a ton of local support, but our success depends on how responsive customers are to this location and what we have to offer as a group of artisans and artists. The reception so far has been really positive, so it seems it will be a joyous shopping season for local buyers and makers,” says Mathews.

Not only is the Steamboat Island area seeing significant new construction with three new 3,500 square foot buildings for retail, services, and office space, over 5,000 people live in the Steamboat Island community and an estimated 30,000 cars drive past Steamboat Square every week.

“We’re a tight community, and I expect there will be a lot of curiosity and word of mouth about the new shop. This project is about a community joining together to make something happen,” said Mathews.

Above: Local artist Ainsley Walden of Go Fish Raku creates sockeye salmon and driftwood art, holiday ornaments, wall art, and magnets.

For more information about Locavore Mercantile, go to or

Monday, August 29, 2016

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in Olympia

Above: Macklemore crowd surfs during Can't Hold Us in the Capitol Theater on Sunday night. 

By Janine Gates

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis received an enthusiastic Olympia welcome Sunday evening as they came to town for an intimate, energetic concert at the Capitol Theater. 

One of eight stops on their Northwest “Camping Tour,” the Olympia concert sold out in less than an hour. 

Above: Before the concert, Mayor Cheryl Selby presented Macklemore and Ryan Lewis with the cultural keys to the city for their artistic contributions and positive messages while challenging homophobia, promotion of anti-racism discourse, and long term investment in the Black Lives Matter movement.

“…Olympia had a huge impact on me becoming the artist and the human I am today….I met a lot of rappers and a lot of amazing artists and people who wanted to change the world and there were a lot of conversations. If it were not for Olympia, I would not be here,” Macklemore told the cheering crowd.

Warming up the crowd inside before the concert was Xperience, (without the “e” because rappers have to mess with their names and better known as XP), who proudly told the crowd that he was born at St. Peter’s Hospital, and has been collaborating with Macklemore for 13 years.

Macklemore and Lewis kept the crowd singing, dancing, sweating, laughing, and crying with non-stop hits from Cadillac to White Privilege II, ending with Downtown.

“…It’s up to us to rewire…we need to let love take over…I don’t care about the color of your skin, your sexual orientation…I don’t care what your passport says, I want you to be inspired by diversity, not afraid of it. And at the end of the day, hatred can never overpower love, said Macklemore as he lead into Same Love.

Macklemore joked and told stories of his time in Olympia, during which he created The Language of My World album and graduated from The Evergreen State College.

“Olympia became my family….you guys are my family, and so is Brad Pitt,” as he segued into Brad Pitt’s Cousin.

Describing his drive into Olympia, taking Exit 104, he headed toward Capital Mall, Red Robin, Toys R Us, seeing the skate park on the left, and Burger King on the right.

“….I kept driving, telling myself to stay focused, when all of a sudden, I hear angels calling. What the fuck is that? And I look over to the right….” 

The crowd screamed, realizing he’s heading toward Goodwill and, of course, Thrift Shop.

Above: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis rocked until 11:15 p.m. 

Next, they are on to sold out shows in Hoquiam, Bremerton, and Bellingham, and will end up in Seattle for Bumbershoot on September 3.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Love our Local Fest 2016

Above:  The Psychedelic Shadow Show was one of ten bands who entertained vendors and street fair goers at Love our Local Fest, held in the northeast Olympia neighborhood on Sunday. The group plays throughout the Shelton-Olympia area, or “Shelympia” as lead singer Carolyn Malanowski called it after her gig, as she bought a few goodies from the 8 Arms Bakery booth. Groovy.

By Janine Gates

Old friends hugged and spent the day catching up on old times, from afternoon through evening at the Love our Local Fest on Olympia’s northeast neighborhood on Sunday. What a long, strange trip it's been....

Plenty of new relationships were formed too as friends introduced friends and volunteers of local nonprofits explained the missions of their groups to newcomers.

Gathered around Bethel Street and San Francisco Avenue in front of the San Francisco Street Bakery and Roosevelt Elementary School, the annual event was filled with great community vibes, music, locally made food, arts, and crafts. 

Nearly 20 local sponsors, and tens of vendors helped make it all possible.

Above: Gita Moulton demonstrates her weaving skills as passersby watch her create a new guitar strap for City of Olympia Councilmember Clark Gilman, who stopped by her booth and put in his order. Gita also had key fobs, belts, dog leashes, and yoga mat straps for sale.

Above: City of Olympia councilmember Jeannine Roe sampled a handmade cream at Beth Mathew’s booth. Her business, Nature Nouveau, features vegan, cruelty-free, non comedogenic products free of synthetics, and can be found at the West Olympia Farmer’s Market at West Central Park, open for the season until October 11, on the corner of Harrison and Division on Tuesdays, 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

Above: Bev Bassett of the Olympia Confronting the Climate Crisis group explains her group's activities and gets more mileage out of a float that wasn’t allowed in the Capital Lakefair parade earlier this year. Nearby, Dave Peeler of the Deschutes River Restoration Team handed out beautiful, new Deschutes River Watershed Guide programs and Yestuary! bumperstickers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Former Sundberg Property About 900 feet from Suspected Olympia Fault Line

Olympia’s Critical Areas Ordinance Updated, Gaps Remain

Above: Looking like Eastern Washington, the former Sundberg sand and gravel mine in Olympia as viewed on Wednesday from a surveyed county road and right of way called North Road, looking toward Grove Street and 20th Avenue. Cooper Point Road is to the west.Sitting on a critical aquifer recharge area, the property has been dramatically and illegally altered for decades, and features mounds of disturbed soil about 30 to 40 feet high.

Repeated requests to the property owner and his representatives by Little Hollywood to tour the property by the city's first public comment deadline of Friday, August 19 have not been acknowledged. 

By Janine Gates

The Olympia city council passed a critical areas ordinance on Tuesday evening that improves the last one, updated in 2004 and 2005, but it still has a long way to go.

As identified in a March 2016 memo to the city by its consultants, ESA Associates, of Seattle, says Olympia’s critical area ordinance still contains gaps.

The critical areas ordinance is required by the Growth Management Act (GMA), and the version passed mostly clarifies terms, streamlines code, and ensures consistency with the city’s recently adopted Comprehensive Plan.

Critical areas are considered to be wetlands, critical aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, frequently flooded areas, and geologically hazardous areas.

The areas covered by the update are drinking water wellhead protection areas, habitats and species, streams and riparian areas, wetlands and small lakes, and landslide hazard areas.

A nine member working group met on July 26 to start identifying locally important species and habitats. Some species and habitats are known and others may be identified and considered through public workshops and meetings.

The first public workshop is scheduled for September.

“We expected to have this one meeting with this group but ran out of time so will be having a follow-up meeting, tentatively scheduled for Aug 29. 

After that meeting, our consultant will synthesize the technical information, comments and best practices into general recommendations for protection options, which will be the basis of the presentation to the public in September,” said Linda Bentley, senior planner for the City of Olympia, in an email on Wednesday to Little Hollywood.

The group’s membership and meeting minutes for the July 26 meeting have not yet been posted to the city’s critical area ordinance webpage but were obtained by request from staff.

The group’s two environmental organization representatives are Sam Merrill of the Black Hills Audubon Society and Daniel Einstein of Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation. 

The group also includes Theresa Nation of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, a representative from Thurston County, three from the City of Olympia, and two of the city’s consultants.

Final recommendations for revising the code are scheduled to go to the city council in November.

Gaps Identified

Gaps in the city’s critical area ordinance include the fact that the city relies on the National Wetland Inventory and does not maintain any local mapping of delineated or potential wetlands. Several wetland model codes, categories, and buffer effectiveness guidelines were found to be outdated, and there was a general lack of alternative mitigation measures for wetland impacts.

In general, ESA Associates says that although the city has complete and reliable data for some critical areas, mapping for other areas are missing or incomplete.

For example, the city uses soils data to map steep slopes, but has not mapped any seismic hazards, severe erosion hazard areas, landslide hazards, or subsidence hazards, if present.

Green Cove Basin Concerns

Clearing up those gaps and areas of concern area can’t come soon enough for some residents of the Green Cove Basin area in west Olympia, as developers seem to know the city’s vulnerabilities. 

Multiple proposed land use applications for developments in the Basin are in progress. 

The Green Cove Basin is in the Eld Inlet watershed and contains steep slopes, ravines and canyons. Roughly bounded by Cooper Point Road on the east, Mud Bay Road on the south, Overhulse Road on the west, and Sunset Beach Drive on the north, it is protected by a 1998 Thurston County Comprehensive Plan. 

The area has been mapped as a critical aquifer recharge area by the county, but the city has not actually yet defined a critical aquifer recharge area, and instead relies on an identified wellhead protection area to serve the same purpose.

“Areas of ‘extreme’ aquifer susceptibility are mapped by the county as occurring near the city limits indicating similar unmapped areas of aquifer susceptibility may be present in the city,” says the ESA Associates report.

Property developer Jerry Mahan recently submitted a land use application to the city to convert the former Sundberg sand and gravel mine into a 177 single family housing development called Green Cove Park on the City of Olympia’s westside.

The exact area of this proposed development is labelled by Thurston County as an “extreme” aquifer recharge area.

Above: Tim Walsh, chief hazards geologist for the state Department of Natural Resources, gave an informative presentation about the history of earthquakes in the South Sound area at the annual meeting of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum in January. A maximum capacity crowd heard the presentation and many expressed that they were unaware that a fault runs under Olympia.

Olympia Fault Line Near Sundberg Property

The city has not mapped the city’s seismic hazards, and, as it turns out, the whole 104 acre former Sundberg sand and gravel mine property appears on county and state maps as being very near an earthquake fault line that runs through Thurston County.

So near, it’s about 900 feet from the property, and within about a half mile of the top of the hill on 20th Avenue near the proposed Parkside development on Cooper Point Road.

Tim Walsh, chief hazards geologist for the state Department of Natural Resources gave a presentation about the fault at the annual meeting of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum in the Coach House of the State Capitol Museum in January.

“We call it the Olympia structure but some people call it the Olympia fault,” said Walsh.

Walsh said it was initially identified on the basis of geophysical information. There is also paleoseismic data in support of an Olympia fault.

About 50 miles long, it was first mapped in 1965. In 1985, it was mapped from Shelton, near the Olympic foothills, southeast to Olympia, under the State Legislative Building, directly under the town of Rainier, to a point due east of the Doty fault, and apparently marking the northeastern limit of a band of southeast-striking faults in the Centralia– Chehalis area.

In 1998 a geologist saw enough similarity with the Seattle fault to speculate that it is a thrust fault.

Geologists Jack Odum and Bill Stephenson have also done seismic profiling along Steamboat Island Road and have made some interpretations of the Olympia structure to conclude that it is quite likely a fault.

Above: A close up of a slide by Tim Walsh, chief hazards geologist for the state Department of Natural Resources, showing the trajectory of the Olympia fault crossing  the area of Cooper Point and Eld Inlet very near the former Sundberg sand and gravel mine property. Click on image to enlarge.

Editor's Note, August 23: Please read note of clarification by Tim Walsh in the comment section under this article. 

Full Disclosure: Janine Gates is on the board of the Olympia Historical Society and Bigelow House Museum and heard Tim Walsh's presentation, along with a capacity crowd.

To read past stories about this land use proposal and other related Green Cove Basin developments, Parkside, and BranBar, go to Little Hollywood, and use the search button to type in key words.

For updated information about the Green Cove Park development, go to the City of Olympia website at or contact Cari Hornbein, City of Olympia Senior Planner, phone: (360) 753-8048, email: