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2019 looks like it will be a banner year for Metro Parks Tacoma

January 16, 2019

A message from Park Board Commissioner Aaron Pointer

Now that New Year’s celebrations are over, I’d like to give you a glimpse of what’s on Metro Parks Tacoma’s 2019 to-do list.

It looks like it will be another year of accomplishments by the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma.

We’re in the home stretch of completing Wilson Way and Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park. We will have more details in the coming months, but these huge and much-anticipated projects should be open by mid-year. Wilson Way is the 600-foot-long, 50-foot tall bridge that will give walkers, joggers, skaters and cyclists a long-awaited link between the Ruston Way waterfront and Point Defiance Park. The bridge, which overlooks the Vashon Island ferry dock and boat launches, offers some pretty impressive views of Commencement Bay, Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and nearby islands.

The 11-acre Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park is located on the breakwater surrounding the Tacoma Yacht Club boat basin. This will be a unique gathering place, perfect for both big events and small, family get-togethers, with an unparalleled perspective on both the bay and the sky above.

These two projects will bring to a close the transformation of more than 40 acres of severely contaminated land. It is part of a federally designated Superfund cleanup site, the legacy of the former Asarco copper smelter, which shut down in 1985 after nearly a century of Ruston operations.

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We also plan a monthlong celebratory event in April at the recently opened Pacific Seas Aquarium, which continues to add more animals to its exhibits. This newest addition to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium goes far beyond previous exhibits of Puget Sound marine life to include warm-water species, such as scalloped hammerhead sharks, green sea turtles and spotted eagle rays.

These projects would not have been possible without your support. In April 2014, Metro Parks taxpayers approved borrowing a total of $198 million for these and dozens of other capital improvements. For example, Metro Parks is planning:

In addition to what’s happening on the ground, Metro Parks is forging ahead with ambitious efforts that nurture and sustain our community. One of the things we’ve resolved to do is deepen our commitment to young people, especially those whose voices often go unheard.

This year, as part of that effort, we’re launching Youth Councils at three of our four community centers. Middle school and high school students will be invited to join so we can hear what’s on their minds. Specifically, we’d like to know what teens have to say about what Metro Parks should be doing in the realm of youth recreation. We’d also like to encourage their involvement in community service. The overarching purpose is to develop young leaders.

Since this is a new endeavor, we’re starting with pilot programs at Eastside Community Center, People’s Community Center and the Center at Norpoint, with STAR Center to follow later. We are still working on the details, but the groups probably will meet a couple of evenings each month, with additional activities likely between meetings. If you’re interested, email youthservices@tacomaparks.com.

And in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, community center drop-in fees will be waived on Jan. 21, 2019. All four community centers are working on special events and activities to celebrate Black History Month in February. Details will be forthcoming.

Why is Metro Parks doing all this? The goal is to ensure that we meet our commitment to all residents of our park district. Our mission is service. We’re creating healthy opportunities to play, learn and grow.

Thanks for reading.

On Jan. 14, Aaron Pointer’s fellow commissioners elected him president of Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners, a position he also filled in 2012. He first became a commissioner in April 2001 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. He also is the board’s liaison to the Metro Parks Arts & Heritage Advisory Council.