Metro Parks Today: August 2016


August 4, 2016

If you want to get something done, speak up.

A grand opening of the new pool at People’s Community Center is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, but take a moment to consider what led to this moment.

A little more than a year ago, Fletcher Jenkins, one of the People’s Community Center steering committee co-chairs, stood up at a groundbreaking ceremony for the center’s new pool and reflected on what it took to make that pool real.

You might know the history: A pool was part of the center from the beginning, back in the 1970s. Then in 2008, the pool closed due to structural problems. That could have been it for indoor swimming on the Hilltop, but …

People spoke up.

“’We’ll have bake sales,’” Jenkins recalled children saying at a community meeting years ago to discuss a way forward. “And that was the spark.”

Pools are expensive. But because of that spark, and the community’s engagement with local governments, the City of Tacoma and Metro Parks committed to the effort, with the city contributing $5.3 million and leading the project, Metro Parks adding another $1.7 million, and the state provided a $485,000 grant through the Department of Commerce. (The city owns the building, while Metro Parks manages it. It’s one of many instances of cooperation between the two governments.)

Construction took about a year, with related projects to upgrade locker rooms and the gym roof following.

Staff are working out the details for the grand opening, but there will be ample opportunity to celebrate not just the new pool but the community that helped make it happen. I spent about two decades in journalism before going to work for Metro Parks, and I can say every story comes down to people, no matter how technical the details.

calloutboxIf you plan to go, you can help staff plan attendance by checking the Facebook event page and clicking “going” (although some of us who work for Metro Parks are taking a wild guess that this event will be well-attended.)

And the technical details?

  • Three-lane lap pool
  • Big windows for natural light
  • Current channel and vortex
  • 2 poolside basketball hoops
  • Floating pads
  • 2 party rooms
  • It’s going to be a great pool.

People’s Community Center surveys

Speaking of People’s Community Center, Metro Parks is asking for input on current and future programming. You can contribute by taking a survey.

Destination Point Defiance updates

If you drive, walk bicycle or run in Point Defiance Park, you’ve probably noticed how congested it can get on busy days. Last year’s master plan update included ideas to streamline traffic flow, improve safety and improve access to popular sites. Metro Parks has been working with consultants to prepare options to do just that. Later this month, we’ll announce a series of public meetings to get your feedback; read more about the project.

Temporary trail closure

Some people who have stopped by Metro Parks booths at events like Ethnic Fest and farmers markets have asked about the closure of the temporary trail between Point Ruston and Point Defiance Park. Metro Parks closed the trail last year as work got underway on “Waterfront Phase I” at the old ASARCO slag pile next to Tacoma Yacht Club and in the so-called “triangle” area to the right of the park’s Pearl Street entrance. It was done for safety; if you visit, you’ll encounter a lot of heavy construction equipment.

The good news is that the closure is temporary.

The great news is that after the work is done, Metro Parks will open a terrific new green space on the peninsula, better parking for boaters, and a permanent connection between Point Ruston and the park by way of a pedestrian/cyclist bridge 50 feet in the air. You can read more about the projects at


Many people visiting the Point Defiance Marina have asked what is going on at the peninsula. Generally speaking, it’s construction toward the creation of a park. More particularly, it’s an operation called “armoring.” The contractor is stabilizing the peninsula’s shoreline by laying back the existing slag to a more stable slope. Once that’s done, crushed stone will armor the slag slope.

W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory update

The final open house in the schematic design process to restore and expand the conservatory took place at Metro Parks headquarters on July 21. The open house ended with a round of applause; you can see the drawings and details online at As said at the outset of the process, restoration was the top priority, and the park district has about $2 million to undertake rehabilitation. Additional funding would have to be identified for the full expansion outlined. If you check the schematic designs online, you’ll see possible phasing options.

Pokemon Go

You might have read about, watched or played a certain augmented reality game lately.

Pokemon Go has been popular in the park district these past few weeks, and we’ve been asked here and there about the district’s position. Here’s the position: The game is a fun way for people to get out and enjoy their parks. Some people run, some people hike, some people catch Pokemon. … And a few years from now, they’ll probably be hunting something else in some other AR game. We just ask that you stay mindful of your surroundings (especially of traffic), respect the parks and respect other people who are using them for other reasons (in other words, please don’t walk through someone’s outdoor wedding ceremony).

If you want to organize an event, do what you would for any other organized event and contact the permits office at or 305-1006. They’re great people to work with.

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