The Metro Parks Board of Commissioners on Monday, Dec. 12, unanimously approved a budget for 2017-2018 that includes more than $155 million for capital projects throughout the district over the next two years.
The capital budget, which covers construction and facility upgrades, is one of the outstanding elements of the overall revenue-and-spending plan. Construction of the Eastside Community Center is to begin in 2017 on the campus of Tacoma’s First Creek Middle School, and the facility is scheduled to open in 2018. Another focus of the capital budget is the new Pacific Seas Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, where construction is already underway. The opening of the new aquarium also is planned in 2018.
The overall budget provides for about $161 million in operations costs for the two-year period. This includes additional opportunities for public participation in Metro Parks activities through expanded financial assistance, more after-school programs at elementary schools, and a districtwide community center membership option. The three pillars of sustainability – environmental, social and economic – are a theme that runs throughout the budget, with programs and projects aimed at taking care of resources for the future.
“I’m proud of our forward-looking approach,” said Erik Hanberg, president of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners. “This budget not only demonstrates our responsiveness to community need but also our ongoing commitment to deliver high-quality activities and events throughout Tacoma.”
The biennial budget totals about $316 million for all funds and covers the period starting Jan. 1, 2017, and ending Dec. 31, 2018.
In addition to the new Eastside Community Center and the Pacific Seas Aquarium, the capital budget provides money for a new peninsula park adjacent to the Tacoma Yacht Club and for Wilson Way, the new bicycle-pedestrian bridge connecting Point Defiance Park and Ruston Way. Construction began in November.
The operating budget sets aside money for new programs to enrich visitor experiences at Point Defiance Park and expand opportunities for “citizen science” projects.
The Eastside Community Center is coming together after several years of planning. Metro Parks is spearheading its development with the support of community partners, including Tacoma Public Schools, the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma Housing Authority and the Greater Metro Parks Foundation.
“This budget will help us finish some of the important projects we’ve been planning and expand access to services,” said Andrea Smith, clerk of the Metro Parks Board of Commissioners. “It’s going to be an exciting two years.”
More information about the budget is online:
— Metro Parks Tacoma