The Thurston Board of County Commissioner (BOCC) has authorized the Prosecuting Attorney's Office to start condemnation proceedings for the abandoned property adjacent to L.P. Brown Elementary School in Olympia.
In a hybrid public hearing yesterday, residents showed up to air support for the plans to acquire the property and then authorize Olympia School District (OSD) to utilize the area.
"We know that there are a lot of illegal activities happening there, so my primary concern is for the children's safety," said Beth Woods, a mother of two students at L.P. Brown Elementary School.
Some residents who supported the condemnation said it would be helpful for the community if the abandoned property were turned into a public green space or a parking lot to alleviate traffic concerns in the area.
"This is an opportunity to provide something that would benefit the community," said a resident who lives directly across the street from the property suggested.
Community members were optimistic that the condemnation proceedings would serve as a "clear pathway" to maintaining safer communities, adding that the process was "long overdue."
"As neighbors, we are offering help cleaning and maintaining the abandoned site [if the condemnation will happen]," said another resident living directly adjacent to the property.
In its resolution, the Thurston BOCC said that for the last fifteen years, the abandoned property has been involved in various "unsafe activities and conditions, including but not limited to dangerous buildings, unaddressed fire damage, solid waste accumulation, trespass, unauthorized camping, alleged drug use, and other potentially illegal behavior,"
The abandoned property has been declared an "imminent threat" to public health, safety and general welfare of the environment since 2019 by the Thurston Community and Economic Planning Department.
Thurston County Compliance Unit Supervisor Kraig Chalem said that since 2015 they have been sending warning letters to the property owner regarding public health and safety concerns, but have yet to respond.
In 2020, the abandoned duplex was damaged by fire, with Thurston County paying for the property's fencing since, Chalem added.
The county will handle the cost for legal filings and proceedings of the condemnation, while the OSD will shoulder the property environmental review and the acquisition, if appropriate.
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