City approves funding for Old Town Dock repairs

Tacoma City Council unanimously approved a purchase resolution Oct. 26 authorizing an agreement with a contractor to begin repairs to Old Town Dock.

In 2008, the 137-year-old dock, which is owned by the City of Tacoma and maintained by Metro Parks Tacoma, was closed to visitors after the City’s public works department deemed it a danger to visitors. The deck had deteriorated and the lack of a handrail made it a public safety concern.

The council’s action this week awards a $319,000 contract to Reid Middleton to perform design, permitting, and construction support services for the repairs. The City will fund $159,500; Metro Parks will fund $159,500. According to documentation submitted with the resolution, the project would complete repairs to reopen the dock and bring it up to current code. The documents also show the City is in violation of an agreement with the Washington State Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation requiring the pier to be open for water-based activities.

In July, Metro Parks and the City announced up to $2 million in bond funds — $1 million from a City bond and $1 million from a Metro Parks bond — were available to rehabilitate the structure. The wooden pier, which is located at 2123 Schuster Parkway and juts out from Schuster Parkway into Commencement Bay, has been a hub for a variety of activities. A public meeting was held June 23 in Old Town to share the results of a structural survey to assist in the repairs and modifications required to reopen the dock and outline the next steps. A five-person advisory group was created to guide the process. Two assessments were completed to determine the extent of damage and establish a project budget.

Also in July, Tacoma City Manager Eric Anderson noted in one of his weekly reports to City Council that a two-year permitting time frame is expected for the project, according to public works staff.

“Actual permitting time required will depend on the backlog at the various agencies, review times, and additional information or requirements requested by the permitting agencies,” wrote Anderson in the July 22 report. “This project is also affected by the fish window and must occur when in-water work is allowed. The schedule takes this additional constraint into account and allows one year for construction. The project will be completed in as timely a manner as possible.”

According to Public Works division manager Jeff Jenkins, the project will be completed in June 2013.

“The current plan takes into account about a 14-month permit process, and having to work around fish windows, which there’s an in-water closure from February to July of every year,” Jenkins told councilmembers Tuesday.

Jenkins added that a sign describing the project will be posted on-site to inform visitors to the pier of the project under way.

“This is great to be at this point, and I’m sure the people in the Old Town Business Association area and residents of Old Town, as well as many people that use Ruston Way, have been wondering for some time whether we were going to leave the chain-link fence around this dock or put it back to use,” said Deputy Mayor Jake Fey. “And it’s great to see the cooperation that’s been evidenced by our public works staff, with the city manager, and with our parks director and the Metro Parks board to get the money to put this together and move it forward. I think last year we approved a bond issue that included this project. I think this is probably the first project to be moving forward out of those funds, and it’s great to see it happen. And I’m sure there will be great public enjoyment from the completion of this project.”