SAMI students get sneak peek at peninsula park landscaping work


Metro Parks is turning the peninsula next to Tacoma Yacht Club into 11 acres of new recreation land inside Point Defiance Park.

Soils contaminated by arsenic and lead from the former ASARCO smelter will be buried there. That in turn will be covered with a layer of clean soil recovered near the entry to Point Defiance Park.

Before that happens, Metro Parks consultant SiteWorkshop is designing landscape treatments for the spacious gathering place the area will become. Landscape designer Aubrey Weeks envisions grounds covered with prairie plants, drought-tolerant bunch grasses and flowers similar to the fescues and blue camas flowers found on native South Sound prairies.

To get them growing, SiteWorkshop proposes to amend the soil. So Weeks set up 18, 10-by-10-foot test plots in a restricted area of Point Defiance Park. On May 23, she invited a class of geology students from Tacoma Public Schools’ Science and Math Institute (SAMI), which operates inside the park, to check out the results. She said plots treated with biosolids – solid, organic byproducts of sewage treatment – yielded the most vigorous results. But they also produced a lot of weeds. “We had a great visit with the students,” Weeks said. Her evaluation of soil treatments continues.

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