Downtown Tacoma's Pugnetti Park reopens today

A parcel of land at the corner of Pacific Avenue and South 21st Street in downtown Tacoma, known as Pugnetti Park, reopens for public use today.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), owner of the half-acre parcel, has been working with businesses, the public and elected officials to determine the future of the property. At about 2 p.m. today, WSDOT will remove the fence that was erected Feb. 26 following a peaceful eviction of Occupy Movement campers who had been at the site since Oct. 7.

“We recognize that parks are important open spaces and contribute to healthy communities,” said state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “We’re pleased we found a short-term solution that allows continued use of the park while we work with the community to develop a long-term plan for management and ownership of the parcel.”

Preliminary discussions are under way with Metro Parks Tacoma about a partnership for management and/or ownership of the park, according to Hammond. Metro Parks will conduct public hearings on the future of the park. The park was dedicated in 1987 to civic leader Don Pugnetti and was available to the public as open space in the downtown core.

The area is suitable for limited day use and was never intended for camping. Taxpayer liability became a concern for WSDOT when campers hacked into power supplies for lights on the parcel and reports of illegal activity increased, according to WSDOT officials. When the park reopens today, rules will be posted with park operations hours and other regulations.

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City will not purchase Pugnetti Park (03/20/12) —