City, Metro Parks move forward on $2M Old Town Dock rehabilitation

The City of Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma confirmed this week that money has been set aside to repair and re-open Old Town Dock.

During Tuesday’s Tacoma City Council study session, councilmember Jake Fey and Metro Parks Board President Larry Dahl said $2 million in bond funds are available to rehabilitate the 137-year-old structure. In 2008, the 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.

“It is now fenced [off] and, I would say, an eyesore in terms of one of the first things you see as you come off Ruston Way,” said Councilmember Fey this week. According to Fey, $1 million from a City bond and $1 million from a Metro Parks bond will be used for the repairs. A public meeting was held June 23 in Old Town to share the results of a recent structural survey to assist in the repairs and modifications required to re-open the dock, and outline the next steps. A five-person advisory group has formed to guide the process. Design work should be completed by late summer. “The community is excited about the restoration of that dock,” added Fey.

Officials expect Old Town Dock, located at 2123 Schuster Parkway, to re-open by fall 2013.

The wooden pier, which juts out from Schuster Parkway into Commencement Bay, has been a long-time fixture in Tacoma. It is a hub for a variety of activities. It was once a wharf for commercial fishing vessels. It provided pedestrians the opportunity to get closer to the water while visiting Tacoma’s Old Town neighborhood. It has been a place for emergency services such as the Coast Guard and Tacoma Fire to hold rescue exercises. And it’s also a quiet spot to cast rod-and-reel and do some fishing on a sunny afternoon.

During Tacoma City Council’s committee of the whole meeting June 15, Councilmember Lauren Walker hinted at the possibility of funding for the dock (see “$1M matching funds eyed for Old Town Dock rehab,” TDI, 06/18/10 — ). According to 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.

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, rest room and concession renovations.