Metro Parks budget meeting, Nov. 14

Construction begins next year on the planned Eastside Community Center, which is scheduled to open in 2018 on the campus of Tacoma’s First Creek Middle School.

The project is an example of the expanded opportunities to play, learn and grow that are incorporated in the proposed Metro Parks 2017-2018 biennial budget.

Members of the public are invited to comment on the proposal at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, when the five-member Metro Parks Board of Commissioners holds its first public hearing on the budget at Metro Parks headquarters, 4702 S. 19th St., Tacoma.

A series of related budget meetings follow, with final action scheduled for Dec. 12. A 40-page presentation on the budget and a complete list of meetings is available at

“This budget proposal is guided by the 3 pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic,” said Shon Sylvia, interim executive director of the park district. “Our programs and projects are vetted through that lens to ensure we are taking care of our natural resources, offering equity in programming throughout the city, and doing so in the most efficient manner.”

In addition to the new Eastside Community Center, the proposed budget includes funding to:

Increase opportunities for elementary after-school programs.

Double the amount of recreational scholarship money annually available to individuals and families in financial need.

Enrich Point Defiance visitor experiences through a variety of programs.

Expand “citizen science” programming.

Complete other construction projects, including the Pacific Seas Aquarium, due to open at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in 2018; a new peninsula park adjacent to the Tacoma Yacht Club; Wilson Way, the new bicycle-pedestrian bridge that will connect Point Defiance Park with Ruston Way in 2017, and numerous other projects.

The proposed capital budget, which accounts for construction and other physical improvements, amounts to about $155 million for the 2017-2018 biennium. Much of that total derives from the $198 million bond approved by Metro Parks voters in 2014. But about a third comes to Metro Parks from outside sources, such as grants from the state and federal governments. This leveraging of bond resources is one example of the way Metro Parks seeks to make the most of taxpayer dollars.

 – Metro Parks