Tacoma political cartoonist R. R. Anderson marked the completion of the Sauro’s parking lot downtown on Wednesday by holding a tongue-in-cheek ribbon-cutting ceremony. Under light rainfall, Anderson and a small group of Tacomans ‘celebrated’ what he described as “the $700,000 parking lot built on top of a $2 million clean-up site” by unspooling a coil of thin blue crepe paper and cutting it with a pair of garden shears.
On Feb. 8, 2011, Tacoma City Council awarded a $601,687.00 contract to Serpanok Construction, Inc. of Tacoma to turn the city-owned parcel located at South 14th Street and Pacific Avenue into a street-level parking lot. In January 2010, Gov. Chris Gregoire allocated $700,000 from Washington’s Strategic Reserve Fund toward the project in an effort to boost the local economy. Originally, the money was to be used to keep Russell Investments headquartered in downtown Tacoma. The site was going to be part of a so-called ‘super block’ should Russell Investments decide to remain downtown and develop additional office space. The company moved to Seattle last year. The site was once used as a store, bus terminal, and boarding house. But for 50 years, it was home to Sauro’s Cleanerama. After Sauro’s closed, the lot was abandoned for more than a decade due to a toxic legacy. In May 2009, the Washington State Department of Ecology released a report that showed the site had “levels of the dry cleaning chemical perchloroethylene and its breakdown products in the soil and groundwater that exceeded state Model Toxics Control Act cleanup standards.” Over the past several years, the City purchased the site and partnered with the Dept. of Ecology on a $2.6 million clean-up effort. Today, the parking lot is adjacent to DaVita, one of Tacoma’s largest employers, and was part of a plan to keep the company’s headquarters downtown.
In a post on FeedTacoma inviting people to attend the event, Anderson criticized the creation of another surface level parking lot downtown (the new parking lot is surrounded by four other parking lots) and wrote, “Since I’m guessing the City would prefer everyone just forget about this thing, maybe it would be fun to have an impromptu street-performance ribbon-cutting ceremony for this parking lot.” During Wednesday’s event, Anderson named the new facility the “Eric Anderson Memorial Parking Lot” after City Manager Eric Anderson, who was dismissed this week by Tacoma City Council.
For additional photos of today’s event, click here.