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The Ruston Way waterfront: Tacoma’s front yard

October 4, 2018

Upcoming public workshop, open house to focus on its future

Few places in Tacoma are more popular than the Ruston Way waterfront. The recreation magnet attracts runners, walkers, bicyclists, scuba divers, fishing enthusiasts, picnickers, restaurant diners and people who just want to enjoy the view.

The waterfront is so captivating that it’s easy to overlook signs indicating possible threats to its future as a welcome place for everyone.

undefinedEnvision Our Waterfront, a joint effort of Metro Parks Tacoma and the City of Tacoma, seeks to bring attention to those indicators at two gatherings at Court House Square, 1102 A St., Tacoma. The first, from 5 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 29, is a visioning workshop to solicit ideas. The second, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 30, is a drop-in open house that will showcase the results of the initial gathering.

Everyone is invited to participate in both or either of the two sessions. The workshop session also will feature hands-on art projects for children.

“The Ruston Way waterfront is a gem, but we have a lot of work to do to preserve it, and to make it even more accessible to everyone,” said Andrea Smith, president of the Board of Park Commissioners. “It’s vitally important that we hear from people throughout the city, even if they don’t visit Ruston Way very often.”

The goal is to develop a shared vision for the Ruston Way waterfront that will guide future activities, improvements, development and land use in a way that protects the shoreline and ensures public access. The two sessions will bring potential problems to the forefront and encourage residents to share what they think about possible solutions.

Many Ruston Way visitors are happy with the waterfront as it is. However, the roadway, sea walls, bulkheads, trails and sidewalks are deteriorating. This is partly due to age, but also because of erosion brought on by winter storms. Scientists studying the future effects of climate change already have predicted sea level increases of between 1 to 3 feet within the next hundred years. That, combined with more frequent and intense storms, poses a risk of damage along Ruston Way.

In addition, the waterfront area is hard to reach without a car, making it difficult for some residents to enjoy, and also resulting in frequent traffic jams.

“Besides climate change, Envision Our Waterfront is putting a spotlight on equity and transportation issues related to Ruston Way’s future,” said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards. “These community conversations will help us prioritize how to improve this area for future generations.”

If you would like to contribute to the process and are unable to attend the workshop or open house, please contact Envision Our Waterfront project manager Andrew Austin at (253) 305-1021 or

For more information, go to

Envision Our Waterfront Visioning Workshop and Open House

  • What: Help shape the future of Tacoma’s Ruston Way waterfront
  • When: Visioning workshop from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29; Open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30
  • Where: Court House Square, 1102 A St., Tacoma 98402
  • Cost: Free

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