Work is set to begin on major projects as part of Metro Park’s Destination Point Defiance initiative.
The 2014 capital bond and 2015 master plan update outlined improvements to the park that include a new aquarium, development of the former Asarco smelter slag pile into an 11-acre green area, a Tacoma Public Schools-funded environmental learning center at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, a paved link for pedestrians between Ruston Way and the park’s trail system and improvements to parking.
Point Defiance Park will remain open this summer, but construction will be apparent around the park entrance and at the zoo and will impact parking.
With construction beginning this summer and set to open in 2018, the new exhibits will include:
250,000-gallon warm-water Baja Bay tank, home to scalloped hammerhead sharks and green sea turtles.
75,000-gallon Puget Sound Community tank.
Giant kelp forest exhibit, a view usually seen only by scuba divers
Expanded Marine Discovery Center with touch tanks.
The 35,000-square-foot building will be built between Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater and the Rocky Shores exhibit area.
In addition to improved access and parking, a bike and pedestrian-only trail and bridge will create safe pedestrian access into the park from Ruston Way, stabilizing the bluff and reducing conflicts with traffic.
The 11-acre park will feature unobscured views of Puget Sound, Mount Rainier and Vashon Island.
Japanese garden and pagoda area
Part of Destination Point Defiance is a reassessment of the Japanese Garden and Pagoda area. Metro Parks conducted public meetings and sought community input on plans earlier this year. An open house will be held Monday, June 27, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Metro Parks Headquarters (4702 S. 19th St.).
Eastside Community Center
An open house on May 11 unveiled conceptual drawings of the project which still needs to secure funds to begin construction later this summer with a project completion date set for 2018.
Seymour Botanical Conservatory
New designs were unveiled April 28 after considerable input from the public. An open house in July will provide an opportunity to speak with Metro Parks staff.
Point Defiance calendar
Fort Nisqually time travelers presentation – Saturday, June 11, 11 a.m., presented by Karen Haas, Fort Nisqually, free (pre-register by calling 253-305-1088).
Guided history tour – Friday, June 17, 11-11:30 a.m., Visitor’s Center, free (pre-register by calling 253-305-1088).
Taste of Tacoma – Friday-Sunday, June 24-26, 11 a.m.-9 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Free park-and-ride shuttle service every 15 minutes from Tacoma Community College to the festival for all three days.
— Metro Parks