Come see what’s in store for Owen Beach at February 10 event

Give input on Owen Beach, learn about improvements, and how to make the most of your park experience in 2018

Metro Parks Tacoma planners will present the latest plans to upgrade amenities and improve access to Owen Beach during an open house Feb. 10 at Point Defiance Park’s new Environmental Learning Center.

The Owen Beach presentation is first on the agenda of the open house, which runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The learning center, located just outside Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, is a shared facility with Tacoma Public Schools. The open house will focus on Metro Parks Tacoma capital improvements and programs.

“Metro Parks hopes that having the open house on a Saturday will be convenient timing for citizens,” said Park Board President Andrea Smith. “Many of our public meetings take place on weeknights, but we know they sometimes introduce schedule conflicts and child-care issues. You can bring your whole family to this open house, and enjoy the park afterward.”

Owen Beach at Point Defiance Park. Credit: Metro Parks
Owen Beach at Point Defiance Park. File photo, courtesy Metro Parks

On hot summer days, Owen Beach is a magnet for swimmers, sunbathers, picnickers, kayakers and others who just want to dip their toes in Puget Sound.

To make visits more enjoyable and accessible for all, planners propose to:

* Reconfigure the parking lot

* Build new restrooms

* Upgrade and expand the existing picnic shelter

* Improve waterfront access for kayakers and to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards

* Add several nature-based play features similar to those at Tacoma Nature Center’s Discovery Park.

Metro Parks Tacoma project administrator Kristi Evans and a team of consultants from Site Workshop landscape architects will answer questions and discuss the proposal with members of the public. An online survey will be posted to for those who can’t attend.

Evans said the plans were designed with both people and habitat in mind. The aim is to build something sustainable; one factor that has influenced the design is the likelihood of future sea-level rise.

Photo by Morf Morford
Photo by Morf Morford

Owen Beach improvements were among the plans promised to Metro Parks voters who in 2014 approved a $198 million bond issue for multiple capital projects. A total of $4.6 million has been set aside for Owen Beach, including $2.25 million from the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office. Construction is not likely to take place before 2020.

At the start of the open house, one of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s animal ambassadors and their handlers will greet people. Besides Owen Beach, the open house also will address:

Parking and circulation

* Wilson Way, the bicycle-pedestrian bridge that will link the park’s trails to Ruston Way

* A new multiuse parking area close to the boat launches

* The 11-acre recreation area on top of the park’s breakwater peninsula

* The Point Defiance roundabout project

* Volunteer opportunities

* Summer camps

A Pierce Transit representative also will be on hand to talk about a high-capacity transit initiative for the system’s busiest route.

The day’s full schedule will be posted to and to Facebook close to the event.

How to get to the Environmental Learning Center: By the time of the event, construction of the new traffic roundabout at the park’s Pearl Street entrance may be underway. The park’s Mildred Street entrance will be the easiest route to the Zoo and Environmental Learning Center (reach it from Pearl Street by turning west onto North 51st Street and following the curve at the street’s end). The Pearl Street entrance will remain open, however drivers should follow the detour signs. All of the park’s attractions are open to the public throughout the roundabout construction period.

Point Defiance Park open house:

What: Learn more about progress of ongoing improvements to Point Defiance Park

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10

Where: Environmental Learning Center, next to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s entrance (there is no admission charge to enter the center)

Parking: Park at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and head toward the Zoo’s entrance. The Environmental Learning Center entrance is just left of the Zoo’s main gate.

Cost: Free

– Metro Parks