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Park Board Notes

December 8, 2016

Earlier this fall, a group of young students gave a presentation to the Park Board to tell us how they helped refine the designs for a recording studio to be built in the upcoming Eastside Community Center. Were they nervous? Hard to tell. Were they excited? That was easy to tell.

The students’ presentation and their work on Eastside Community Center comes to mind because your Park Board is poised to approve the district’s 2017-2018 budget, and any good budget is more than a set of numbers. This next biennial budget is about helping people, including the students we heard from who are looking forward so much to Eastside Community Center.

The budget is our best attempt to set priorities within the resources that are available. In effect, it is a work plan for the next two years. It is based on hard data, best practices and public input. Many documents influence the final document, including the Mission-Led Comprehensive Program Plan, which identifies community needs every six years. Among the fundamental influences are the nationally accepted three pillars of sustainability – people, conservation and financial – which aim to balance the needs of the present without compromising the future.

The process takes months. Then Park Board commissioners delve into it, questioning some points, clarifying others and always keeping the park district’s mission and values at heart.

Highlights in this next budget include funding to build the  Eastside Community Center (including those students’ recording studio) through an innovative partnership with the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Public Schools, Tacoma Housing Authority, the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound and the Greater Metro Parks Foundation.

Other highlights include a renewed prioritization of park maintenance, implementation of a districtwide community center membership option, expansion of the Financial Assistance Program, increased collaboration with the City of Tacoma to enhance public art, and continuation of a capital improvement program that will lead to the opening not just of Eastside Community Center but of the Pacific Seas Aquarium, the pedestrian link between Ruston Way and Point Defiance Park, and numerous other projects.  You can read details about the budget online.

The bottom line of this budget is that it is about people and about keeping the park district on a sustainable path into the future so that we can continue creating healthy opportunities to play, learn and grow.

Holiday fun

Budget review is one of the toughest parts of a commissioner’s job, but it’s not the only part. Fellow Park Commissioner Tim Reid likes to say, “We’re in the business of fun.”

Take a look at the park district’s roundup of holiday events for evidence. Between now and 2017, you can go to the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory for a Victorian Holiday Festival and Cocoa and Caroling; to Northwest Trek Winter Wildland and of course to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium for Zoolights. You can find details for these events and more on the  Metro Parks website.

Have a great rest of the year, and we’ll see you in 2017.

-- Erik Hanberg
Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners