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Foss Waterway Park & Melanie Jan LaPlant Dressel Park.

For more information contact Project Administrator Kristi Evans at (253) 305-1054 or

Melanie Jan LaPlant Dressel  (previously Central Park)

Historically, a steam plant occupied the site of the proposed Melanie Jan LaPlant Dressel Park. That industrial heritage, common to the Foss Waterway and the Tacoma Tideflats as a whole, inspired the playful theme suggested here.

Based in part on public response to the initial schematics, the goals of this park are to:

  • Create a destination and attraction unique to the waterway
  • Offer opportunities for play for all ages
  • Include spaces for events and gatherings
  • Change the landscape with plants

Central Park Site Plan
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This design was created in anticipation of dense urban development immediately north and south of the planned park.

  • On the water side, the park would continue the 20-foot-wide Foss Waterway Esplanade that parallels the waterway. A separate 20-foot-wide promenade would connect Dock Street to the Esplanade.  At the east end, an overlook would extend toward the waterway.
  • At the center of the park, a play mound circled by informal pathways and climbing surfaces would also include play-oriented elements with an industrial theme. Landscaping would feature both conifers and deciduous plants.
  • At the top of the mound, a pedestrian bridge would connect to a tower reminiscent of smokestacks. The tower may offer a view and/or opportunities for play. A small lawn would be left open for possible events.
  • Near the street, a comfort station with restrooms also could include controlled-access showers and/or a community room and storage.
  • Direct access to the water would not be permitted because a soil cap is required to protect against contaminated soil.

CP 01_Aerial

Waterway Park

The plan for Waterway Park capitalizes on existing water access for human-powered watercraft.

Goals for the project include:
  • Maximizing boat storage
  • Providing access to the existing dock
  • Incorporating natural open space
  • Creating flexible event space
  • Limiting parking
  • Adding a direct connection from the Dock Street overpass into the park
Waterway Park site plan
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The plan calls for a remodel of the existing Berg Scaffolding building to turn it into a boathouse with public/private restrooms, workshop, and boat storage facilities.
  • Also planned is a new, secure boat-storage structure for outrigger canoes, dragon boats, and smaller, lighter watercraft, such as stand-up paddleboards and kayaks. Generous roof overhangs provide space for boat maintenance. Space for boat washing also would be provided.
  • The existing dock would be remodeled to improve boat access and launching of larger vessels. 
  • The park will connect to the Foss Waterway Esplanade from Dock Street via a bridge connected to the site.
  • An open lawn adjacent to the boathouse would provide space for passive activities or events.
  • Plans also include space for an off-leash dog park along the south and east edges of the site. Additionally, a separate network of informal paths would run through landscaping designed to enhance native habitat.


Project Timeline:

Final schematic designs were presented in an open house on Feb. 17, 2016.

Once costs are estimated and the project is approved by the Foss Waterway Development Authority and Metro Parks Tacoma, funding must be identified if the improvements are to be carried out.

Park Locations:

Waterway Park is on East D Street at the end of Foss Waterway.
Melanie Jan LaPlant Dressel Park is located at the base of the 11th Street Bridge.


The 2014 park bond and Foss Waterway Development Authority are funding the work.

Project Status:

project-status-iconFoss Waterway Parks
In collaboration with the Foss Waterway Development Authority this project includes the design for two park sites along the Foss Waterway including a new boathouse facility for kayaks, rowing shells and other paddling and rowing equipment.

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