Inside Opinion

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Tag: Metro Parks


Progress afoot for those who walk, run and ride

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

From the shores of Commencement Bay to the foothills of Mount Rainier, more opportunities for recreation are falling into place.

• The day people will be able to walk from Thea Foss Waterway to Point Defiance is a little closer, thanks to work being done at the old Asarco smelter site. Part of Mike Cohen’s billion-dollar Point Ruston development, the mile-long Waterwalk Esplanade ( will link the existing walkway along Commencement Bay to Point Defiance Park when it opens in the next few months.

The esplanade – which will

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After 25 years, Zoolights brightens dreary nights

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Even in the rain and cold, visitors flock to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium this time of year. There’s something about half a million lights that can brighten spirits even on the dreariest of nights.

Today, as Zoolights opens once again, it’s likely that some of the adults pushing strollers or shepherding young children were among those who visited the event in its 1987 inaugural season. A quarter century later, Zoolights has become an enduring Sound Sound tradition for many families during the holiday season – and an important revenue source for the zoo.

Favorite attractions from the past are back: the spectacular “flame tree” near the entrance, displays featuring Mount Rainier and the Narrows bridges, scuba-diving Santa feeding the sharks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and a 100-foot-wide octopus lurking atop the North Pacific Aquarium. New this year for an additional cost: zip line/challenge courses – one geared to children 5 and up and another for those 8 and older.

Zoolights began as an ingenious way to boost attendance during the traditionally slack time from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. What began as a relatively modest display of 30 figurines and five miles of lights that drew 21,000 visitors has evolved – a lot.
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A special place for families opens in South Tacoma

Metro Parks' STAR Center is open in South Tacoma. (Russ Carmack/Courtesy of Metro Parks Tacoma)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The era of tight budgets and declining revenues has had at least one positive side effect: It’s forced many public agencies to rethink their old fiefdom mentalities and focus on how they can partner to provide services in economical ways that don’t overlap.

That kind of new thinking is on display in spades at the South End Recreational Adventure Campus, which includes a Boys & Girls Club Topping Hope Center, Gray Middle School, Metro Parks ballfields and the park district’s shiny new STAR Center, which opens for public use today.  (A community open house will be held May 19.)

The STAR Center – STAR stands for South Tacoma Activity and Recreation – is a $16 million facility on South 66th Street that replaces the South Park and Manitou community centers. It’s designed to complement the recreational and educational programming provided by the Tacoma School District and the Boys & Girls Club. Read more »


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 »


Keep Erik Hanberg on the Metro Parks board


This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Erik Hanberg likes to talk up the parks in the Metro Parks District. But he also walks the talk. He’s been to every park in the system (there are more than 60) and documented those visits in a self-published coffee-table book.

A small businessman and executive director of City Club of Tacoma, he was appointed to the Metro Parks board in January 2010. He is seeking his first full term, and voters should give it to him.

Hanberg benefited from Metro parks growing up, and that

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Earth Day: Each of us doing a little can add up to a lot

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

As Earth Day turns 40 today, the environmental problems facing the world look all but insurmountable: climate change and the growing threat of hunger and water shortages, acidic oceans, vanishing plant and animal species . . . the list could go on and on.

As individuals, saving the Earth really isn’t much of an option. But each of us has the power to improve a little corner of it.

At the personal level, simple things can help, like walking or using mass transit instead of driving, conserving energy in our homes with efficient appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs, planting native species that don’t need watering and eating more locally grown foods. And sometimes, doing the right thing for the environment has a bonus: It can save us money on our household bills. Read more »


Prop. 1 – to preserve Tacoma’s parks

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

When you’ve invested a fortune in beautiful and popular parks, you don’t let them fall apart. That’s a compelling reason to vote yes for Proposition 1 on Tacoma’s April 27 ballot.

For a city its size, Tacoma has one of the most spectacular park systems in the nation.

Point Defiance alone – with its zoo, aquarium, marina, heart-stopping views and expanses of old growth forest – would be a crown jewel in any American city. Then there’s Ruston Way, with two miles of promenades, beaches, fishing, picnic spots and panoramic views on the Commencement Bay waterfront.

But the system only begins with those two gems. Metro Parks operates a total of 66 parks throughout Tacoma. Some are small, many are large; they include more than 40 soccer, football and baseball fields; four pools; more than 40 playgrounds; six community centers. They encompass 2,700 acres.

The parks host traditional league sports and community events – but also provide essential social services. A playground drop-in program serves federally subsidized free lunches to low-income children who might otherwise go hungry. After-school “clubs” offer organized activities and field trips. Hundreds of people with disabilities participate in the Special Recreation Program.

It takes serious money to maintain this much real estate and provide these services. But with inflation rising, Metro Parks’ revenues – squeezed by Initiative 747’s 1 percent cap on property taxes – have been falling relative to costs.

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Heads up: More tax votes coming

Despite the lousy economy, Metro Parks Tacoma and Pierce Transit are both readying tax proposals for the voters this year.  Neither has much choice, I gather.

The school districts going to the polls in February and March are mostly seeking to renew expiring multi-year special levies. Their timing is dictated by the calendar, not the economy.

Not so for Metro Parks and Pierce Transit.  Parks officials are planning a levy lid-lift proposal on April 27.  Pierce Transit will likely seek a sales tax increase in August or November.

Both agencies are hoping to stave off dire budget cuts, but their circumstances differ.

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