Changes in store for Point Defiance Park Master Plan

A 16-acre peninsula park with bike and walking trails, open space for seasonal events, and 360-degree waterfront views.
An expanded aquarium with amenities and educational opportunities that make it a destination location.
More opportunities for pedestrian-only access to Five Mile Drive.
A forest preserve and new, off-leash dog park.
These are just some of the ideas to come out of nearly two years of community meetings facilitated by Metro Parks and aimed to revise Point Defiance Park’s master plan.
Park staff shared preliminary ideas for the plan yesterday at City Hall, during Tacoma City Council’s noon study session.
According to Metro Parks project manager Curtis Hancock, efforts date back to November 2005, when voters approved an $84.3 million bond measure to improve park facilities citywide. Point Defiance Park will receive $5.5 million for improvements.
Since that time, park staff have convened meetings to solicit input on three manageable areas: waterfront, attractions, and forest. Information gathered from those meetings was shared in October with the Metro Parks board of directors.
“Everyone kept saying, ‘Don’t change a thing except . . .'” said Hancock, describing how the future of the park, and how the earmarked millions will be spent, is highly personal for Tacomans.
A few ideas to surface from these meetings include:
Five Mile Drive — Currently, Five Mile Drive is closed to vehicle traffic Saturday mornings. One idea to come out of meetings is to increase that amenity for pedestrians. “People are saying, ‘Let’s close it more often,'” said Hancock. “A large contingency wanted to close it entirely.” He said staff is trying to find a balance for pedestrian- and vehicle-only traffic.
Forest Areas — “We had 80 people show up concerned we were going to log part of Point Defiance Park,” said Hancock. He told councilmembers that was not the department’s plan. Instead, the community would like to see more pedestrian trails, including links between different park areas.
Baker Tract — On the west side of the park, a portion of forested area known as Baker Tract could be converted into an off-leash dog park.
Peninsula Park — A 20-acre, finger-shaped parcel near the breakwater marina could be home to a 16-acre peninsula park with bike and walking trails, open space for seasonal events, and 360-degree waterfront views.
Similar to park improvements, the parks department recently concluded a six-month study to examine commercial opportunities that could increase revenues within Point Defiance Park. The park board is expected to examine the study in January.
Yesterday, Metro Parks staff told councilmembers they were trying to find a way to incorporate outside revenue streams without degrading the park by inviting too much commercialization.
The park board will vote on a final master plan early next year. Point Defiance Park was granted to the City of Tacoma 102 years ago. According to Hancock, it will be the first time since 1911 that the department has revamped the park’s master plan.