Point Defiance Park, public meeting
Thursday, Dec. 1, 6 p.m.
At Point Defiance Pagoda
Finding a suitable place to park a car in Point Defiance Park can be a bother on sunny summer weekends and for crowd-pleasing, special events.
Already, the park draws about 3.1 million visitors annually, a number expected to increase with the 2018 opening of the Pacific Seas Aquarium and a new peninsula park next to Tacoma Yacht Club.
Metro Parks Tacoma and its consultants are exploring ways to make it easier for visitors to avoid parking headaches. The public is invited to consider both short-term and long-term options and provide feedback at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 in the park’s Pagoda.
“If you visit or cherish Point Defiance Park and parking concerns you, please come to this meeting, learn about proposed solutions and tell us what you think,” said Erik Hanberg, president of the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners. “Projects now underway, such as the new Pacific Seas Aquarium, are likely to draw more visitors, so we must prepare. If you have suggestions, we’re eager to hear them.”
The meeting is the second in a series of public sessions seeking suggestions from park users and others who care about how Metro Parks deals with park traffic and increased visitation. The first meeting, held in September, focused on plans for a new pedestrian and bicycle pathway. The third meeting – to be scheduled later – will consider modifications to vehicular traffic patterns. The goal is to make it easier for visitors to safely get to and from their favorite park destinations, whether they choose to walk or ride.
The focus on traffic and parking grew in part out of the park’s 2015 master plan update, which highlighted the need for improved vehicular circulation and additional parking.
Point Defiance Park now has about 1,500 parking spaces. As capital projects are completed and attendance grows, Metro Parks projects a need for approximately 1,000 more stalls.
In the short-term, possible solutions include temporary parking lots and a shuttle-bus system to carry passengers between those lots and popular park attractions such as Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. Sites under consideration for short-term parking include the area east of the ferry access road, also known as the triangle, and the former Camp 6 site, which is now used as an overflow lot for the Zoo and where portable classrooms of the Science and Math Institute (SAMI) are located.
Long-term solutions under consideration include increased Pierce Transit service inside the park and a multi-level parking structure within the area of the existing Zoo parking lot.
This planning effort is funded through a $198 million capital improvement bond approved by Metro Parks voters in 2014. It is part of the broader Destination Point Defiance initiative, which includes not only the 2015 master plan update but also the Pacific Seas Aquarium, waterfront improvements, viewpoint improvements, infrastructure upgrades and additional work.
– Metro Parks
If you are unable to attend and would like to comment, contact Project Manager Tom Dargan: