On January 14, 2020 the Olympia City Council accepted the Eastside Subarea Plan. The following is a brief report of implementation activities undertaken by the Eastside Neighborhood Association (ENA) during 2020.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has severely diminished our ability to move forward with many of the activities outlines in the plan, we are pleased to report progress on a number of fronts.
The 2020 Annual Meeting, held on February 20, 2020 focused entirely on the implementation of the Subarea Plan. The plan includes four Actions plans, 17 Goals and 66 Action Items. Discussion focused on prioritizing action items so that the ENA Board could focus on those issues that were most important to our members.
Subarea Plan Core Team
A subarea plan core team was formed during development of the plan. This small group was responsible for coordinating activities and ensuring completion of the plan. After acceptance of the plan by City Council, the team decided to remain in place to begin implementation of subarea plan actions. The core group meets every two weeks and reports to the ENA Board at each monthly meeting.
Goal 1.1: Encourage responsible development to maintain neighborhood character
Lions Park Spray-ground
The specific action steps in the plan focus on the design review process and multi-unit buildings. However, the ENA Board reached out the City Parks, Arts and Recreation Department to review and provide comments on plans to install a spray-ground at Lions Park. A copy of the comment letter and the City’s response were posted on the ENA website.
Action Plan 1 includes Action Step 220.127.116.11: “Work with Partners to identify ways to acquire and preserve the Indian Creek wetlands at the southwest corner of the Eastside neighborhood.” In November 2020 the core team met with City staff to discuss the beneficial functions of this wetland and mechanisms in place at this time that provide protection of this wetland.
Goal 1.3: Encourage homeownership and advocate for affordable rentals
Action Plan 1 included Action Step 18.104.22.168: “Create an ENA housing subcommittee to investigate Community Land Trusts, seek funding and partners to protect existing and add new sustainable affordable housing for qualified applicants.”
Early in 2020 the ENA Board formed this subcommittee. Activities to date have focused on reaching out to partners to learn what resources are available in the community.
Historic Designation of the Eastside Street Armory
Action Plan 4 includes Action Step 22.214.171.124: “Work with partners to pursue acquisition of the National Guard Armory for the purpose of converting the building into a community asset.” Two members of the core team have been working with City staff to reach that objective. City staff are engaged and have made a proposal to Council. Council has included a request for funding of the Armory in their 2021 Legislative proposal.
A key step in this process was making application for historic designation. Core team members were instrumental in completing that application.
We will continue working with City staff as well as State Legislators to assemble the necessary funding to allow the City to a quire the property.
Goal 2.3 Reduce conflicts with walkers, bicyclists, transit and other transportation modes.
Improving sidewalks and improving pedestrian safety was very important to those that attended the February meeting.
Members of the core team are actively working the members of the Olympia Northeast Neighborhoods Alliance (ONNA) to find ways to collaborate with the City on sidewalks and pathway improvements. Activities to date include meeting with City staff, correspondence with the City’s Transportation Director, and providing written and oral testimony to Council on the City’s Transportation Improvement Plnn. We will continue working with ONNA and City staff to find opportunities and funding to address pedestrian issues in our neighborhood. During 2021 we hope to complete a survey of residents and inventory of ENA streets to identify opportunities and focus our efforts on small improvement projects.
Goal 4.1 Help residents get to know each other.
Promoting more connections with neighbors was one our most important objectives. The plan envisions continuing all of our current community events and establishing more. The pandemic required us to pass, for now, on community events.
One success was the Winter Window Walkabout held during the Christmas season. Neighbors were encouraged to decorate their houses and the ENA awarded prizes for the best decorations. Neighbors were invited to check out the decoration names and locations using an online map.
Goal 4.4 Make Connections with people other than residents.
Action Plan 4 includes Action Step 126.96.36.199: “Maintain active participation in the Coalition of Neighborhood Associations.” The ENA Board continues to send a representative to CNA meetings. That board member provides reports to the ENA Board at each monthly meeting.
Action Plan 4 also includes Action Step 188.8.131.52: “Identify an appropriate contact person with each organization that serves our neighborhood. Develop and maintain an accurate contact list and ensure all are receiving Neighborhood notifications.” During the 2020 ENA board recruitment Chris Knight joined the board representing the First United Methodist Church of Olympia.
The Subarea Plan Core Team will continue to promote implementation activities throughout 2021. Given the constraints of the ongoing pandemic and the limitations of those currently involved, we expect that activities during 2021 will largely focus on carrying on the initiatives listed above.
Enlisting additional volunteers will be a high priority moving into 2021 as well as holding as many community events as we can with the hope that the pandemic recedes throughout the upcoming year.