Heritage grant could pay for Chinese Reconciliation Park improvements

The City of Tacoma has submitted a grant application to the Washington State Historical Society to help pay for the third phase of the Tacoma Chinese Reconciliation Park project. If awarded the grant, the money would help pay for park enhancements such as the installation of a perimeter fence with a Chinese motif, wayfinding signage, lights for the parking lot, landscaping, and an irrigation system.

“The City is requesting $400,000, and the local match is two dollars for every dollar funded, or $800,000,” wrote Tacoma City Manager T. C. Broadnax in his May 17 weekly report to Tacoma City Council.

In March 2009, Tacoma City Council awarded a contract totaling approximately $657,000 to Clements Brothers, Inc. for the park project. In November 2010, the council approved an amendment to the contract that directed an additional $350,000 toward the project; $200,000 from the City’s general fund, and $150,000 from the City’s “Open Space” fund. In February 2011, the council directed an additional $250,000 to cover cost overruns related to the park and the construction of a Chinese Pavilion, or “Ting.” The additional $250,000 came from using grant match money originally slated for the SR-509 slip ramp project.

“Regarding the required match, the City can count the $600,000 for the cost overrun for the Fuzhou Ting, which was already expended, and $140,000 for the value of the Fuzhou Ting (donated materials),” wrote Broadnax. “If the funding is awarded, this will leave the City an obligation of $60,000 of in-kind funds from the current Open Space Program for project management.”

The grant is part of the Washington State Historical Society’s Heritage Capital Projects Fund program. The grant application deadline was Wednesday. The list of grant recipients would be included in the governor’s capital budget, which will likely be released in December. Final awards would be included in the capital budget approved by legislators and signed by the governor next year. If the City is awarded a grant, it would need to spend the money on the project by June 30, 2015.

The waterfront park overlooks Commencement Bay and opened last year. It aims to commemorate the events of Nov. 3, 1885, when a group that included a Tacoma city councilmember, judge, sheriff, and mayor forced more than 200 Chinese from their homes and businesses. The park’s development has been guided by the non-profit Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation. In 2005, more than 100 people gathered for a ceremony to mark the ground-breaking of the $12 million, four-acre park, which is located near Ruston Way and on land owned by the city and formerly occupied by the National Guard. Today, park visitors enjoy a garden, 800-foot-long sea wall, winding foot paths, bridge, public art, interpretive displays, and recreation areas. On Oct. 30, 2010, park organizers and members of city council and the general public marched 2.5 miles from downtown Tacoma to the waterfront park to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the event.

For more information about the Washington State Historical Society’s Heritage Capital Projects Fund is online at http://www.washingtonhistory.org/heritageservices/grants.aspx .

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