Inside Opinion

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Tag: I-705

March
25th

Preserve park honoring one of Tacoma’s civic leaders

Raindrops collect on the fencing around Don Pugnetti Park March 12. The owner, the Washington State Department of Transportation, is looking for buyers. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Green space is at a premium in downtown Tacoma, with few places where downtown workers and students can sit out on a nice day and maybe eat a sack lunch in the sunshine.

One of those few places – at South 21st Street and Pacific Avenue – is in danger of being lost forever. Don Pugnetti Park has been a little oasis of green for 25 years, dating to construction of Interstate 705. But now it’s fenced off with chain link and tagged with “No trespassing” signs. The barrier also blocks access to a century-old railroad monument.

Owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation, the pocket park was an Occupy Tacoma tent city for four months. The Occupiers are gone, but now WSDOT suddenly wants to shed the park for “liability” reasons and is seeking buyers. Maintaining the park isn’t an issue; a private company takes care of that as part of a deal to operate a nearby parking lot. Read more »

March
3rd

Norm Dicks, congressman and patriot extraordinaire

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

With Norm Dicks, there are no six degrees of separation. If you live in the South Sound, you’ve been touched directly by his work in Congress.

Dicks’ decision to not run for re-election this year isn’t welcome news, but it’s not a shocker, either. He is 71 and has held his seat in the House of Representatives going on 36 years. All good things must end, and Dicks’ long run in Congress has been a decidedly good thing for this region.

The worst that can be said about the exuberant Bremerton Democrat is that he is an old-fashioned pork-barreler who has brought home the bacon to his state and his beloved Sixth District. But that’s another way of saying he has been very adept at looking out for his constituents.

The “pork” he delivered has stood the test of time. For example, he engineered funding for Interstate 705 – the Tacoma Spur – which extended the reach of Interstate 5 to the heart of Tacoma and the city’s waterfront.

Dicks was the prime mover behind the restoration of crumbling Union Station into a stunning rotunda hung with Chihuly glass. He secured federal grants for other urban redevelopment projects, all of which helped kick-start the dramatic revival of downtown Tacoma in the 1990s.

He was a key player in the historic land claims settlement with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and the creation of the bypass highway around the Tideflats, breakthroughs that greatly expanded the capacity and potential of the Port of Tacoma.

He accelerated the cleanup of Commencement Bay. He was behind countless improvements at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and helped bring the Air Force’s C-17 transports there – a move that enhanced the base’s strategic importance at the time when military installations were being closed and downsized across the country.

Many of Dicks’ individual accomplishments would have been enough – all by themselves – to crown the career of any House member. For example, he – along with Sen. Henry Jackson – turned Madigan Army Medical Center into a reality.
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