City Hall News: Tacoma Smelter Plume cleanup, public art restoration project and Presidents Day

Tacoma residents will have plenty of opportunities next week to learn more about what’s happening in city government.

On Tuesday, Tacoma City Council will hold its regular weekly study session to hear an update on the Washington State Department of Ecology’s plan to clean up the former Asarco copper smelter site. Also on the agenda is an update on legislative activities in Olympia. Later that day, councilmembers will hold a committee of the whole meeting to discuss the format for the upcoming council strategic work session on Fri., Feb. 21, at Center for Urban Waters, and hold their regularly scheduled weekly council meeting.

On Wednesday, Tacoma City Council’s Government Performance and Finance Committee will meet to tentatively discuss “Tacoma 24/7,” a quarterly report on 24 performance measures in seven key service areas connected to Tacoma City Council’s strategic priorities; relevancy to citizens, policy makers, and city management; and ability to be collected quarterly. UPDATE: A confirmed agenda has been posted and agenda items include proposed changes to wholesale water rates for Tacoma Water customers, and the committee’s work plan for 2014.

Here is a look ahead at some notable meetings, events, and issues on deck next week at Tacoma City Hall.


Tacoma City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday at City Hall to be briefed on the Washington State Department of Ecology’s plan to clean up the former Asarco copper smelter site.

For nearly 100 years, Asarco operated a copper smelter in the Ruston/Tacoma area. According to Dept. of Ecology officials, winds carried the smelter’s air emissions, which deposited arsenic and lead on soils in parts of King, Pierce, Thurston, and Kitsap counties, to a 1,000-square-mile area now known as the Tacoma Smelter Plume. The Dept. of Ecology began working on the Tacoma Smelter Plume more than a decade ago, starting with education and outreach. The plume is too large to clean up all soils, according to Dept. of Ecology officials, so a plan under way aims to clean up play areas and yards in the most contaminated areas.


Councilmembers were last briefed on the plan, which is funded by a $94 million settlement with Asarco, during a study session last year. At that meeting, Dept. of Ecology officials outlined the plan’s four main components: a residential sampling and remediation program; a soil safety program; ongoing education and outreach; and encouraging sampling and cleanup during development. The free and voluntary residential yard sampling and remediation program aims to reduce exposure to arsenic and lead in soils in the most contaminated areas of the Tacoma Smelter Plume. The Dept. of Ecology plans to sample nearly 4,700 yards and estimates 1,200 will need soil removal cleanup.

On Tuesday, Dept. of Ecology project manager Amy Hargrove will provide an overview of the residential yard sampling and remediation program, and then focus on soil sampling and cleanup progress in Tacoma. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department manages the soil sampling effort, while the Dept. of Ecology is lead on cleanup. According to Dept. of Ecology officials, 218 yards have already been sampled. Cleanup, however, is a more complex and time-intensive process, according to Dept. of Ecology officials. Eight yards were cleaned up during a pilot project last year.

Councilmembers will not take public comment during the study session, which will be held on Tues., Feb. 18 at 12 p.m. in Room 16 of Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St. Audio from the meeting will be broadcast live on TV Tacoma and online at On-demand audio archives are available on the Web within 24 hours of the meeting online at


The City of Tacoma has extended its bid deadline for a project to restore the bronze Children’s Bell sculpture, which has been located along Ruston Way near the shores of Commencement Bay since it was created by artist Larry Anderson in 2000.

The public art piece, which can be rung by visitors, was recently removed and placed in Metro Parks Tacoma’s Parks Maintenance Building to address needed repairs.

The project involves remounting the piece on a shaft foundation, painting existing support pipes, rebuilding gong strikers, and restoring the surrounding landscape to its original condition. The goal is to have the project completed by May 1 or in time for the summer season, according to City of Tacoma staff.

Bids were to be received until 11 a.m. on Weds., Feb. 12. However, that deadline has been extended to 11 a.m. on Weds., Feb. 19.

More information about the project is available online here.


Administrative offices at Tacoma City Hall and other City of Tacoma facilities will close on Mon., Feb. 17, in observance of Presidents Day.

The City of Tacoma’s landfill, recycling center and household hazardous waste facility will open as normally scheduled on Presidents Day between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and garbage, recycling and yard/food waste pick-ups will not be affected by the holiday.

Police and fire personnel will also be on duty, and animal control personnel will be on duty between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Senior centers at 415 S. 13th St. and 5016 A St. will be closed, as well as Tacoma Municipal Court.

All Tacoma Public Library branches will close on Sat., Feb. 15, in observance of the holiday. No Tacoma Public Library branches are open on Sundays or Mondays, as per their normal operating schedule.

Finally, there will be no parking enforcement on Presidents Day.


Looking ahead, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber will host the 2014 State of the City Address on Weds., March 19, at 11:30 a.m. in Hotel Murano’s Venice Ballroom, located at 1320 Broadway, in downtown Tacoma. Speaking on the theme Tacoma 2.0, Mayor Strickland plans to discuss an array of topics including economic development, Tacoma’s regional and national presence, education, and the youth summer employment program SummerJobs253. Tickets are $25 for students with an ID and persons aged 55 and up. Tickets for general admission are $40 in advance. More information is available online at

State of the City website slide