A $66,000 city project was dedicated this month, preserving and beautifying the well for future generations. It marks a major turnaround from two years ago, when it was feared the well would close.

A $66,000 city project was dedicated this month, preserving and beautifying the well for future generations. It marks a major turnaround from two years ago, when it was feared the well would close.

Now there’s a new place to fill bottles with a raised platform for users to set multiple water containers. There’s solar lighting. Stamped concrete that mimics bricks. Tall posts that will hold flower baskets in the spring. And a community bulletin board, scheduled to be finished soon.

“We’re really pleased with how it’s turned out,” said Rich Hoey, the City of Olympia’s interim public works director.

The well, which rises up from a parking lot near Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street, has a long history. Hoey said it dates to the early 1900s when it provided water for steam locomotives at a train depot nearby. That building is now Olympic Outfitters.

In recent years, the well was little more than a pipe sticking out of the asphalt of a parking lot. Diamond Parking owned the lot and permitted the well.

A community group, Friends of the Artesians, long had paid to have the water tested. But in 2008, the artesian group said it was disbanding, putting the well’s future in jeopardy.

The city kept the well open after striking a temporary agreement with the Thurston Public Utility District to test water quality. Finally, the well’s future was secured last year when the city bought the parking lot.

This spring, the city’s Parking and Business Improvement Area will spend $4,500 to add public art to the space.

People who stop at the well swear by the unchlorinated, untreated spring water. They bring multiple jugs to fill.

During a recent sunny afternoon, there was nearly always someone there filling a container. They gave the improvements rave reviews.

Margaret Gahan said she drives from Centralia for the water and has come for 10 years.

“I like that it does not have chlorine or any poisonous additives to it,” she said. “It’s like nature offered it to us for our well-being.”

She said the new lights make her feel safer.

Larry Garland of the Olympia area said he’s been filling up for 25 years. He said he loves the improvements but is concerned about vandalism.

Mayor Doug Mah dedicated the well last week, one of his last official duties as mayor before turning the office over to Stephen Buxbaum next month.

“The improvements in the area are fitting for that location,” Mah said. “It’s a dramatic improvement over what was there before.”

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