Metro Parks Today: June 2016


Happy June. Citizen involvement in Metro Parks Tacoma is key to the park district’s success. As announced in this space many times in the past few months, there are lots of ways you can shape the district’s future. Here are some highlights:

Destination Point Defiance
Destination Point Defiance has been a major initiative for the past decade. This summer, you’re going to see work begin on some big projects: a new aquarium; development of the former Asarco slag pile into an 11-acre green area; a new Tacoma Public Schools-funded environmental learning center at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium; a paved link for pedestrians between Ruston Way and the park’s trail system; better parking; and more. These projects have long been in the works, and the 2014 capital bond and last year’s master plan update outlined improvements in the park. Now Metro Parks is delivering on what’s been promised.

Point Defiance Park will be open this summer (and fall, and winter …), but construction will be apparent around the park entrance and at the zoo. is one of the best ways to stay up to date on activities and to see where all of the improvements will lead. Sign up for email updates on the projects.

Japanese Garden and Pagoda area

Part of Destination Point Defiance is a reassessment of the Japanese Garden and Pagoda area. Metro Parks conducted public meetings and sought community input on plans earlier this year. See the latest design on our website, and – breaking news – you can see the plans in person and talk with designers at an open house from 4:30 to 5:30 pm Monday, June 27, at Metro Parks Headquarters, 4702 S. 19th St. The open house is scheduled right before the evening’s Park Board meeting, which you also are more than welcome to attend.

Also this summer, look for announcements of public meetings regarding a study of traffic and parking challenges and solutions inside Point Defiance Park. As promised during last year’s public master plan update process, this is another area that needs attention, and Metro Parks is gathering data and exploring some ideas that you’ll be able to weigh in on.

Eastside Community Center
It was great to see so many Tacomans attend an open house on May 11 to see the latest schematic drawings of what this new center might look like were shown. In case you couldn’t attend, you can find the drawings online.

W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory
After listening to a lot of feedback from the public – including 300 responses to a survey – we went back to the drawing board and developed new designs for this important part of Tacoma’s history. The plans were unveiled April 28 and posted online at In July, we’ll have an open house that will give you a chance to talk with Metro Parks staff. Remember that expansion is only part of the conservatory planning. Restoration of this Tacoma gem is a top priority. The open house is scheduled for July 21, but we’ll have more specific announcements closer to the date.

Mission Led planning
We are wrapping up a long and deep assessment of the community’s needs compared to programs provided. The result is a 6-year plan that will guide our budgeting and decision making. The Park Board will consider approving the plan later this month. View the Mission Led Plan on our website after June 13.

Process is important, but there are plenty of fun aspects to Metro Parks this summer. Start with this newsletter’s calendar, but also take a look at these highlights:

Taste of Tacoma returns to Point Defiance Park from June 24-26. Read more about the event at their website. With Destination Point Defiance projects getting underway – though the big construction won’t begin until after the event – Emerald Queen Casino’s Taste of Tacoma presented by BECU has set up a free park-and-ride shuttle service from Tacoma Community College to the festival for all three days.

Here’s more information from the event website:

The FREE Park & Ride Shuttle will operate from 10:30 a.m. daily and run every 15 minutes to take guests to and from the festival. The last shuttle will depart Point Defiance Park 30 minutes after closing each day. Festival hours are Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Guests are encouraged to park and ride the Free Taste Shuttle. Due to decreased capacity in the public parking lot this year, arriving early is recommended. However, Taste staff will be on hand at Tacoma Community College and Point Defiance Park to ensure a positive guest experience and to assist in the load and unload process. Street access to Point Defiance Park will remain the same as years past, however, with the event’s ability to park fewer cars in the adjacent lot, Taste Producers are working hard to alert visitors to use the Free Park & Ride Shuttle.

Read more at the event organizers’ website.

New park ranger, more programs at Point Defiance Park. If you haven’t met Point Defiance Park’s new ranger, head down to the Visitors Center on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday and stop in. Read more about the park ranger.

Bringing a park ranger to Point Defiance is another move to enhance visitors’ experiences and promote safety. The Visitors Center, right across from the tennis courts near the Pearl Street entrance, will be the site of more programs than before, including interpretive nature walks, living history presentations and a special series of hikes and classes through a partnership with the outdoor gear retailer REI (to register for REI classes, go to

Summer camps. Several Metro Parks staffers made an appearance on TV Tacoma’s CityLine last week to talk about the park district’s summer camps. You can hear about the programs – spoiler alert: a Food Truck camp is one of this year’s offerings – by watching a replay or live-stream of the show. Or check out the camps web page for sign-up instructions. Or pick up a Camps Guide from Metro Parks.

People’s Center pool. The new pool is on track to open later this year. It is filled with water – but that’s part of the construction process. Take a look at the latest construction photos by clicking the arrows on the image below. Learn more about People’s Center

People's Center Madrona Room
Speaking of “People’s”: The News Tribune recently noted the Board of Park Commissioners’ action to formalize names for several parks. The TNT’s story delves into the significance of the apostrophe in People’s Center and gives a short history of citizens’ choice of the name in 1977. Read the article on the News Tribune’s website.

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