Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Tacoma: Council approves contract for Old Town Dock restoration

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Oct. 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm with 12 Comments »
October 27, 2010 3:34 pm

A planned overhaul of Tacoma’s Old Town Dock – fenced off for more than two years – could have the historic pier spruced up and reopened to the public by 2013, city officials said this week.

With the Tacoma City Council’s unanimous approval Tuesday of a $319,000 contract with project engineers Reid Middleton, city public works officials expect final designs and permits to be in place by August 2012, with restoration work completed sometime the next year.

“A lot of folks are going to wonder, `Well, why is it going to take so long?’” Councilman David Boe asked Facilities Division Manager Jeff Jenkins, who briefed the council on the project Tuesday.

“The current plan takes into account about a 14-month permit process and having to work around fish-windows,” Jenkins responded. “…There’s an in-water closure (to work) from February to July every year.”

Still, there’s a chance the project could be sped up, Jenkins said — if regulators consider the work to be repairs rather than new construction. If that happens, he said, there won’t be a need to conduct additional environmental mitigations. That could shave down the permitting process by about 8 months, Jenkins said.

Dating to 1873, the Old Town Dock is a familiar city landmark off Schuster Parkway. It was closed to the public in July 2008 for “public safety reasons due mostly to structural degradation and a lack of handrails,” Jenkins said.

The dock’s closure actually puts the city in violation of an agreement it holds with the Washington State Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation that requires the structure to be open for water-based activities. Since the dock’s shuttering, studies have determined the extent of needed repairs and established a budget for restoration.

The city is now partnered with Metro Parks Tacoma in a 50-50 cost sharing agreement that provides up to $2 million toward anticipated costs, Jenkins said.

The contract with Reid Middleton will be covered by city long-term general obligation bonds approved by the council last year and park improvement bonds approved by voters in 2005.

“Metro Parks, the city and a citizen advisory group are managing the efforts to ensure the final project meets the needs of the public as a functional, aesthetically pleasing amenity,” Jenkins added.

Among other things, the restoration project will replace the dock’s failing piles and install a new deck, gazebo, flag pole, hand rails and lights, records show. It will also repair a transient moorage dock and replace off-shooting finger piers.

“This is great to be at this point,” said Councilman Jake Fey, who added Old Town businesses and residents “have been wondering for some time whether we were going to leave the chain link fence around this dock (or) put it back to use.”

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. surveyor1 says:

    Wow! The speed at which the city moves astounds me. I wouldn’t have thought that they would have moved so fast on this. At this rate the dock will only have been closed for 5 years.
    Yes, I am kidding. It’s actualy quite disgusting.

  2. scratchinghead72 says:

    Well, I can’t pay my mortgage, but I bought a new swing set…..

    I just can’t stand stuff like this. Crying and whinning over the budget yet this is the second story I read today about cities going ahead with park and rec type projects. Not cheaps ones either.

  3. I am pleasantly surprised. Was starting to think this was going to be an example of demolition by neglect.

  4. lets get this straight 300,000 for the dock and twelve million for the tacoman shame park which is spitting distance away. This is your government at work

  5. lewiswells says:

    Is this part of the properties formerly owned by the “run-out-of-town chinese”?

  6. Puyallup says:

    Councilman Boe is right when he says people are going to be asking why this is going to take so long. Does a 14 month permit process seem too long to anyone else? Is the city working to cut the time it takes to issue permits? Why was the dock allowed to deteriorate to this state in the first place? This story needs some follow up and some good investigative reporting.

  7. First_Lefty says:

    Anyone complaining about getting the dock in order for overnight moorage doesn’t understand the value of the boating market.

    Boats are large black holes in the water to throw money into. People with boats have money. Money spent on the waterfront is tax base.

    Aside from that, who wants a delapidated dock on the waterfront?

  8. aranciata says:

    God help us. This is a job that could have been handled by the private sector just for allowing some company the right to put their name on it.

  9. nwcolorist says:

    HOORAY! This is one of Tacoma’s historic icons. It was depressing to see it mouldering away down there.

    I have a lifetime of personal memories associated with the Old Town Dock, the ultimate being I proposed to my wife there on a beautiful summer evening in 1980.

    This news made my day.

  10. 14 months sounds about right and is a realistic estimate for in-water, new construction. Consider that you have permits from multiple local, state and federal agencies to secure, some of which probably have to occur in sequence rather than simultaneously. If it takes a little less time to cut permits, no harm no foul, you can hurry up the design and construction phases. But if you don’t budget liberally for permitting time then you are in trouble.

    Why the dock was allowed to deteriorate and why it had to be closed for so long, now I’d like to read THAT story. I am skeptical that structural issues were really the problem, more likely to me was that it was lack of handrails. Handrails that did not exist on the dock for decades without causing a problem.

  11. bobcougar says:

    I never heard a word about structural degradation when they closed the dock. It was the lack of handrails.
    I pretty well grew up on that dock in the summers. I can’t recall anyone falling to their death.

  12. reformedliberal says:

    I don’t disagree, but think of the lawsuit potential.

    The dock itself is a good illustration of what is wrong with Tacoma city government. Old Town Dock was an institution, and it anchored the Ruston Way waterfront for decades. But the city forgot all about it while leaders pursued pet projects, right up to the point that it was falling down.

    NOTHING, and I do mean NOTHING is maintained by this city. They build it and forget it, and never fix anything before it becomes a crisis. Ever.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0