Sunday, June 29, 2014

Paws-itively Precious Pet Paw-Looza

Above: Two kittens born to a feral mother are checked out by staff with the West Olympia Pet Hospital at today's Pet Paw-Looza event at The Pet Works in downtown Olympia.
By Janine Unsoeld

The Pet Works, a new pet and pet supply business located at the corner of 4th and Adams in downtown Olympia, was bustling today with even more ooh’s and aah’s than usual as it hosted a Pet Paw-Looza, complete with free pet health exams, dog washes, pet nail clippings, and more.
Owners Eric and Rebecca Smith say they have seen continual, weekly growth in their business since opening a couple months ago.

“We groomed 119 dogs last month, we’ve expanded our product lines, like adding Avo Derm dog food, we just got parakeets in yesterday, and have over 100 species of fresh and brackish water fish now,” says Eric. Eric is pleased with the work of Zeigler’s Welding and Olympia Powder Coating for building and painting their new fish stands.
Eric says rabbits and lots of other critters are coming, as well as salt water fish.

Above: A Cuban Knight Anole kept a watchful eye on the action at The Pet Works today.
Today, Pet Paw-Looza provided space for a variety of local animal related services to offer their information. Volunteers with Thurston County’s Animal Services offered a variety of adoption and animal resource information, including a list of much-appreciated needs for the shelter. Most needed is quality kitten, cat and dog food (first ingredient not corn and no red dye), milk replacement for kittens, cat litter and boxes for foster homes, critter bedding, hand towels, gift cards, and much more.
Dogs on Deployment volunteers were also on hand. Dogs on Deployment is a 501(c) non-profit which promotes responsible pet ownership and provides an online network for military members nationwide to search for volunteers to help their pets during their service commitments.

Amy Evans of Lacey says she started to volunteer locally for Dogs on Deployment when her pre-school daughter kept asking where her friends were going. Her friends’ parents were in the military, and Evans discovered that they had animals that were being left behind.
“I wanted to do something to help,” she said.

Today, Steve Hoag of Puyallup came down to Pet Paw-Looza and show off his two year old pitbull, Bullet. Hoag says he will be away for military police training starting in late July and is looking for someone to take Bullet while he’s gone for two months.
“He’s great with kids, older people, everyone but cats. He’s super intelligent and mild mannered – you know, pit bulls are not aggressive unless trained to be. He’s very easy going,” says Hoag. Hoag says he got Bullet from an animal shelter in Pennsylvania one and a half years ago.

“He’s kennel-trained, and came 3,000 miles cross country with me….” he says, as Bullet gets excited about a potato-based pig ear given to him by Laura, a Pet Works staff member who just gave him a bath.
Above: Bullet gets special treatment today at The Pet Works.
To find out more about Dogs on Deployment, go to To inquire about providing foster care for Bullet, contact

Meanwhile, Dr. Nathaniel Stewart, DVM with the West Olympia Pet Hospital, and staff offered free pet wellness checks, seeing plenty of adorable cats, dogs, puppies and kittens.
Dogs of another kind – hot dogs – with chips and soda were provided by South Bay BBQ.

“A lot of local effort has been involved in all phases of our business and new people are coming in every day,” says Eric Smith.
For more information about The Pet Works, go to and use the search button to type in key words.

Above: The Pet Works at 407 4th Avenue in downtown Olympia has seen continual growth nearly every week since its opening just over two months ago.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Part Three: Fast-Tracking a Vision for Downtown Olympia under a Community Renewal Area Plan

Above: Kris Goddard (standing), Olympia city councilmember Julie Hankins, and city consultant Scott Fregonese create their vision of downtown Olympia at an urban design workshop held on April 5. Their vision transformed the Capitol Center Building block into a park, deleted part of Water Street, and established an electric trolley around the perimeter of the area.
by Janine Unsoeld

An active visioning process for downtown Olympia is well underway and almost nobody knows about it. The results of this vision for downtown Olympia could seriously influence the built environment of downtown Olympia.

Another meeting of the city's Community and Economic Revitalization Committee (CERC) and its citizen advisory committee met tonight to discuss the financial assumptions of the scenarios they created in past workshops.

The consultants, on speaker phone, presented the information to the group via computer, making tiny spreadsheet numbers hard to see and the conversation hard to hear. Citing known and estimated rent and development costs, the numbers were admittedly rough - so rough that an open house previously discussed to possibly be held in July to involve the public in understanding these design scenarios will not occur.

“As we get into specific scenarios, there will be specific numbers...which will lead to a higher quality public process,” said Mayor Stephen Buxbaum.

Councilmembers Roe and Selby observed the meeting, along with several members of the public, but both left early. About 10 members of the 30 member advisory committee were in attendance.

Citizens are still not being invited to ask questions or comment on the information presented at the meetings.

Design Workshop Results

The city's consultants reviewed the results of the workshops to create three scenarios called the Base Case, the Central Park design, and the Green Connections design. They shared these results and scenario mock-ups with the city's Community and Economic Revitalization Committee (CERC) and their advisory committee on May 15.

At that meeting, John Fregonese said that the design workshop results showed that each table supported redevelopment of the Olympia Yacht Club parking lot, included a mix of uses on city-owned properties, and connected and extended Percival Landing.

The majority of table groups demolished the Capitol Center Building, better known as the nine story Mistake on the Lake, and redeveloped the ImageSource building, formerly known as the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.

There were notable differences in opinion on the location of park land, the mix of uses (i.e. turning the nine story Capitol Center Building into a hotel vs. a library or mixed use building), and adherence to current height limit restrictions.

Members of the citizen advisory group discussed needing more financial information attached to each scenario.

In response for tonight's meeting, the consultants chose to examine four parcels: the Olympia Yacht Club parking lot, the Capitol Center building parcel, the buildings east of Heritage Park, and the city owned properties and the building currently occupied by ImageSource.

Consultants estimated development costs associated with demolition, site preparation, surface and structured parking, park development, streetscape improvements, hard costs such as pilings, vacancy rates, and more.

Some citizen advisory committee members, like Mike Reid of the Port of Olympia, appeared eager to sink their teeth into real numbers, but that enthusiasm quickly dissipated as questions arose about the viability of the numbers and financial feasibility gaps presented in each design model area and approach.

In short, the numbers were soft, but consultant Loreli Juntunen said that it appeared that a remodeled area on the property east of Heritage Park is the “place to go for the greatest investment return.” This is the property currently occupied by Traditions Fair Trade and other businesses.   

Concern was expressed by citizen advisory committee member Jerry Reilly, representing the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation, that a purely public option or scenario was missing.

“Is there the market demand to warrant investment? How long will it take to develop it if it's not there? I'm worried about the Capitol Center building being redeveloped. The height is a problem,” he said.

Thera Black, representing the Thurston Regional Planning Council, responded that community visions do not always pencil out and may have to be adjusted.

Mayor Buxbaum agreed. “There's no slack anymore to make reactionary isn't 2005, or 1986...we can't make mistakes. We need to make smart investments before we jump into a public process....”

Citizen advisory board member Rachel Newmann questioned whether or not the city should be investing in downtown. Can we afford it? Should we do it?

Since Olympia does not have a united community vision about downtown's appropriate level or area of growth and development, there were several long pauses in the conversation. Finally, Juntunen said that multi-family developments are occurring in Olympia primarily along the edges of its urban growth boundary. In contrast, many other cities, such as Portland and Dallas, are experiencing infilling.

“I bring that up to have to set the stage properly for that to happen. Portland started that in 1970 - you have to make intentional investments to make that happen....” She admitted those were councilmember decisions. Juntunen, a consultant with ECONorthwest, is based in Portland.

Reilly commented, “The option of doing nothing falls under its own weight rather quickly.”  Buxbaum said that the private sector is trying to plug the holes as best they can.

The next meeting of the city's Community and Economic Revitalization Committee is July 21. The next meeting of the committee and its advisory group is August 7.  

Nine Story "Views on Fifth Avenue" Building Confusion

Trying to plug a literally and figuratively leaking nine story, 75,000 square foot investment hole are the owners of the Views on Fifth Avenue at 410 Fifth Avenue.

Two recent, somewhat misleading articles in The Olympian dated June 13 and June 22 caused confusion about the building's status.

According to city staff, there is no actual permit for a hotel at this location, nor did the building's owners receive the current permit on May 27. Just because the developer's goal is to turn the former office building into a hotel does not make it so.

Former city building inspector Tom Hill signed off on the building owner's commercial tenant improvement permit application plans for a structural retrofit on December 3, 2013, which was good for six months. A representative for the owners came in and picked up the permit last month on May 27 because it was going to expire on June 3. Once the permit was picked up, the owners have six months to start work. This permit will stay valid for another six months if they do the work and get an inspection.

The permit on file with the city from October 2010, permit number 10-3309, is the one on record.

“Bottom line is that the permit they received only allows them to proceed with the structural modifications that would allow the building to be converted to a hotel or other residential occupancy at some point in the future. We have not received plans for that conversion yet,” Keith Stahley, director of the city’s Community, Planning and Development department clarified today for Little Hollywood.
Above: The nine story Capitol Center Building, left, and Traditions Fair Trade on the corner of Fifth and Water Street.
CERC/CAC Participant Perspectives

Councilmember Julie Hankins is a member of the city’s Community and Economic Revitalization Committee (CERC).
Asked last month for her perspective on the downtown visioning process and the design workshops held so far, Councilmember Hankins responded:

“I was extremely happy with the collaboration, cooperation, and compromise that we saw occurring….Since our intent with the workshop was to bring different viewpoints to the table and see if we could provide an opportunity for those differing viewpoints to converse and find areas of consensus, I would say our goal was met.
“The next steps, of course, are to review with the participants their experience and find where we can improve the format.  Like any pilot project, we must start small, carefully review, analyze, and make needed adjustments to our model and then, when we decide to move this forward, consider possible ways of introducing this model to the larger community. We have a ways to go on this journey, but it was so nice to see a real conversation between differing viewpoints occur in our community. These are the types of constructive, inclusive conversations that are going to move this community forward.

“Again, understanding that the real emphasis is on the process, not the end result, the important lessons to take away from our scenario are you must let go of preconceived ideas and wants, and think outside of the box. We were extremely successful in crafting a plan once we let go of our preconceived ideas of where things “had” to go or where we “wanted” them to be and stopped focusing on our individual wants and instead focused on the community’s needs.  Once we did this the sky became the limit for us and our ideas….Our group was great because we had such divergent viewpoints that were able and willing to listen and hear one another. ”

Kris Goddard, the lone “citizen at large” representative to the committee, was also asked to comment how she heard about the downtown visioning process and her interest in serving.
“In May 2013, I learned about the budding citizen advisory committee’s (CAC) formation from Rachel Newmann, who had been appointed to (it) as the Heritage Committee's representative.  I decided to contact Keith Stahley and ask if there might be a place for me in the group. I had gotten to know Keith when I served on a hiring committee for Community, Planning and Development in 2012. His response was yes, and my designation would be ‘citizen-at-large.’
“You might wonder why I requested the chance to serve: four women and I formed a grass-roots group which we named 2020 Vision Olympia in the summer of 2008. We were registered with the Secretary of State and had a website…until 2012.  It was the proposed isthmus rezone that fueled our activism. We were strongly opposed to the Tri Vo project. We felt adamant that the Capitol Campus views and Budd Bay/Olympics views needed to be protected.  But our larger mission was to persuade city leadership to engage an urban design team to conduct a community-wide visioning process to help citizens plan downtown Olympia – an urban design team that would then remain engaged for at least the early stages of the plan's economic implementation.

In subsequent years, most of us…and four others who joined our group in 2009…have worked to elect council members who we hoped could be persuaded to embrace this planning and design model for revitalizing the downtown. With little to show for our efforts, 2020 Vision Olympia just sort of faded away over a year ago.

“I have learned from and been heartened by my experience on the CAC thus far.  It's the first opportunity I have had to sit down with local developers, representatives from downtown businesses and representatives from entities such as the Port and the Economic Development Council to hear their visions for potentially revitalizing some of the isthmus properties. Even though we don't always agree, I respect them all because I have learned a lot about their skill-sets, perspectives and bodies of knowledge. I think I finally understand where most of them are coming from. It's also the first time in several years that I have felt hopeful that the blight at the west entrance to our downtown may eventually become part of a larger area that will make Olympia proud and – best case scenario – perhaps trigger a broader downtown transformation.”

For more information about downtown Olympia, the Community Renewal Area plan and process, and past and proposed plans for the isthmus, go to and type key words into the search button.

Above: Another table's design workshop vision on April 5 created a parking garage in front of the Olympia Yacht Club.
Editor's Correction: In the May 7, 2014 story, "Fast Tracking a Vision for Downtown Olympia under a Community Renewal Area Plan - Part One", it was Erica Cooper, downtown property manager, not Lori Drummond of Olympia Federal Savings, who presented her table's design at the April 5 design workshop. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

South Sounders Soak Up the Sun

Above: Heritage Park Fountain today in downtown Olympia.
By Janine Unsoeld

South Sounders today enjoyed sunshine and warm weather on the first day of summer.
Above: Copper artist Paul Schryver at West Central Park's June Jubilee today.
The June Jubilee at West Central Park located on the corner of Harrison and Division Streets hosted music, artisans, children’s crafts, gardening lessons, food, and more. While music by The Hinges played, Paul Schryver of Olympia showed me his copper sculptures. Schryver says he is self-taught and has been creating copper art for 15 years.
“My art is always evolving….look at this patina….” he said, as he showed me a piece of 100 year old copper. Although he specializes in recycled copper sculptures, he gets his new copper from Olympia Sheet Metal. He says his salmon look good in groupings along a cedar fence.

Above: Full Moon Radio played at Capital City Pride in Sylvester Park this afternoon. Pride festivities continue tomorrow.

Capital City Pride in downtown Olympia rocked. More music, food, and activities, including the Pride Parade, continues tomorrow. Go to for more information.

Above: A Yeti in downtown Olympia?

A Yeti was spotted downtown while kids enjoyed playing in the Heritage Park Fountain. Suspicions as to the Yeti’s authenticity was questioned, however, upon closer inspection, especially when it paused to pose, Hawaiian shaved ice cone in hand, for a picture with two boys from Wyoming.

Some, however, had to work or attend to the mundane such as lawn mowing and other long-overdue chores. The car washers and detailers at Shur Kleen Car Wash on Harrison Street did a great job today. The business is one of the sponsors of Capital City Pride.

Above: Shur Kleen Car Wash detailers had a big job cleaning this car today.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

DeGarmo’s Pharmacy To Change Hands to Private Park Owner

Above: Alicia Elliott and volunteers weed the public sidewalk near West Central Park today. Elliott is expected to sign papers on Tuesday to purchase the nearby DeGarmo's Compounding Pharmacy building.

By Janine Unsoeld

Alicia Elliott is expected to sign and finalize a contract on Tuesday, June 17th to buy the DeGarmo’s Compounding Pharmacy building near the corner of Harrison and Division on Olympia’s Westside.
The Olympian newspaper reported in a story on June 5 that Richard DeGarmo was retiring after working as a pharmacist for 50 years.

Elliott owns the property next door to DeGarmo’s on the busy, auto-centric corner of Harrison and Division. Now called West Central Park, Elliott saved the property in 2013 from future land use speculation and development to create the privately owned, public use park. The property was most recently proposed to be developed into a 7-Eleven convenience store.
The park, adjacent to two major neighborhoods, is in an area zoned by the city of Olympia as a high density corridor.

While busy weeding the cracks in the public sidewalk today on Division Street, Elliott said she is excited about signing the contract.
“It's an exciting development for West Central Park…the building will be home to a café that will service the park directly and will include a small commercial kitchen that will be able to support food carts hosted by the park. It’s a way to nurture small business - by offering the kitchen, we'll be extending the operating hours of the food trucks….From the beginning, our plan was to have a park café that could help keep the park in the black far into the future. Having the café at DeGarmo's is even better than having a new café on park grounds, because there is paved parking and potential access from Cushing Street built into the pharmacy parking.”

DeGarmo’s also has a restroom, which will be available to patrons of the café. Elliott said she has future plans to build two additional restrooms, one for daytime use, and one 24 hour restroom.
“We have a lot of lunchtime walkers from the Capital Place Retirement Center down the road who need a restroom, and we look forward to providing one for them,” said Elliott.

Without fail, regardless of wind, rain, or snow, drivers and other passersby have witnessed the regular Sunday work parties that have kept the park immaculately groomed throughout the year. Encouraged by Elliott’s weekly updates, between four and fifteen volunteers turn out to help each week.
Plenty of attractive plants, including some edibles, gravel and walkway pavers, picnic tables, and cleverly decorated traffic barriers are testimony to their constant hard work.
Above: Compost bins at the south end of the park feature a view of an edible garden and the property at the corner of Harrison and Division in Olympia.
The work party held today was devoted to last minute primping for the park’s June Jubilee, which will be held next Saturday, June 21st from noon to 4:00 p.m. The park will host its second annual summer solstice event with local artisan demonstrations of skills and crafts. The celebration will also include music and food. The public is invited.

To stay up-to-date about future work parties, news, and progress at the park, go to
For past stories about West Central Park and to see pictures from last year's June Jubilee, go to and type key words into the search button.
For more about the history of West Central Park, go to;05;201305h.