History of Charlotte's Blueberry Park
Farmed since 1929, the last private owners of this 53 acre piece of property were Lars and Gina Berg who, along with their son Lloyd, ran Berg's Blueberry Farm from 1952 until 1968. In that year the property was purchased by Tacoma School District #10 for the future site of a new high school.
An active neighborhood group opposed the construction of a new school on this property as well as another proposal to sell the land for a housing development. The school district's plans were abandoned in the early 1990s. In 1994 the School District traded 23 acres at the northern end of the property to Metro Parks Tacoma in exchange for a portion of Manitou Park for the construction of a new Manitou Elementary School. This was the beginning of today's Blueberry Park.
Rather than see the park developed with sports fields and play equipment, the neighbors again organized, wrote grants and made plans to clear the land of unwanted vegetation and to save the blueberry plants. In 1997 Metro Parks Tacoma officially named this new park – Blueberry Park.
IMPROVEMENTS MADE TO BLUEBERRY PARK
In addition to thousands of volunteer hours, three Innovative Grants from the City of Tacoma's South End Neighborhood Council helped fund many of the improvements to the park over the years. Volunteers using rented equipment and tools cleared the invasive scotch broom, blackberry vines, and other unwanted vegetation from the park and cut back the overgrown blueberry bushes to encourage new growth. Later a commercial brush cutter was purchased to continue to process of clearing the park. A gravel road was also installed in 2004 to allow better access into the park and its many blueberry bushes.
To augment the hard work of the Blueberry Park CHIP In! volunteers, in 2006 Metro Parks Tacoma hired some goats to help clear additional areas of the park still choked with invasive weeds.
In 2007, the 280 goats came again to Blueberry Park along with a shepherd and herding dogs to eat their way through acres of tansy-ragwort, English ivy, Scotch broom, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan blackberries.
Phase I of improvements made through the voter approved 2005 Park Improvement Bond were completed in 2007 and included a six-foot wide permeable asphalt path that is nearly one mile long. The materials used to develop the path allow rainwater to soak through the asphalt and makes the blueberries more accessible for all visitors. In addition to the path, an attractive wooden fence along D Street was built and an interpretive sign was installed at the entrance to explain the history of the park and the importance of the park's 10 acres of wetlands to the ecology of the area.
Phase II of the Bond Measure improvements is expected to be completed in 2012. Planned work includes an AD parking stall at the entry, a pad/enclosure for a portable toilet, conversion of existing litter receptacles to Maxi-Can types and some new ADA compliant benches.
HONORING CHARLOTTE VALBERT
At their regular meeting on August 23, 2010, the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Park Commissioners unanimously voted to alter the name of this park to Charlotte's Blueberry Park. in honor of long-time Blueberry Park advocate and founder of Friends of Blueberry Park, Charlotte Valbert. Our organization and staff were blessed to be among the many lives touched by Charlotte's generous spirit and civic leadership.
(July 4, 1928- August 16, 2010)