$1M matching funds eyed for Old Town Dock rehab

For more than 135 years, a wooden pier that juts out from Schuster Parkway into Commencement Bay has been a hub for a variety of activities: a wharf for commercial fishing vessels; a chance to get closer to the water while visiting Tacoma’s Old Town neighborhood; a place for emergency services such as the Coast Guard and Tacoma Fire to hold rescue exercises; and a quiet spot to cast rod-and-reel and do some fishing on a sunny afternoon. The pier, which is owned by the City of Tacoma and maintained by Metro Parks Tacoma, is known by locals as Old Town Dock.

In 2008, however, it was closed to visitors. According to the city’s public works department, Old Town Dock, located at 2123 Schuster Parkway, is a danger to pedestrians. The deck is deteriorating and the structure lacks a handrail. During a visit to the dock this week, a bright yellow sign announcing “Restricted Use” hung on a padlocked fence that barred entrance. Seagull droppings covered the broken planks in a white sheen. Although the dock is included in Tacoma’s 2008-2013 Capital Facilities Plan, it has been mothballed.

That situation could soon change.

The City of Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma have announced they will hold a town hall meeting June 23 to discuss the current status of Old Town Dock, share the results of a recent structural survey meant to guide the repairs and modifications required to re-open the dock, and outline the next steps. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Old Town Music Society, 2101 N. 30th St.

During Tacoma City Council’s committee of the whole meeting this week, Councilmember Lauren Walker hinted at what would be discussed at the meeting Wednesday. “There is a good possibility that Metro Parks will match the city’s $1 million investment for Old Town Dock from bond funds dedicated to Ruston Way,” said Walker. The idea to match funds for the pier came out of a joint group of City and Metro Parks representatives, known as the Metro Parks Transition Plan Policy Team, of which Walker is a member. On July 13, the team is expected to brief Tacoma City Council on its work transitioning City-owned property to Metro Parks during a study session at City Hall.

“We’ve had good discussions at those meetings over the past year,” added Walker.

In November 2005, Tacoma voters approved an $84.3 million bond measure to fund a variety of park improvements through 2013. The park improvements include $5.5 million to be directed toward matching funds for the promenade extension through the Asarco site to Point Defiance, reconstruction of Old Town Dock, new site lighting and furnishings, and utilities, restroom and concession renovations.

Tacoma's Old Town Dock. (PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)