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State looks to sell Don Pugnetti Park after evicting Occupy Tacoma

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on March 14, 2012 at 10:52 am |
March 14, 2012 10:52 am
A fence blocks access to Don Pugnetti Park. PETER CALLAGHAN/ The News Tribune

Don Pugnetti Park, the tiny piece of land at Pacific Avenue and South 21st Street in downtown Tacoma, was little noticed by its owner before it spent four months as a campsite for the local Occupy Wall Street offshoot.

Now the owner, the Washington State Department of Transportation, is looking for buyers.

“I would say the whole Occupy Tacoma thing just sort of called it to our attention,” said Steve Pierce, a spokesman for the department.

“We’re certainly not in the park business.”

The state has feelers out to the city of Tacoma, the University of Washington Tacoma and the state Historical Society that runs the downtown history museum. No one has expressed interest yet, Pierce said. He said there’s no asking price.

In the meantime, there’s a fence blocking access to the park. It will stay up “for the indefinite future,” Pierce said.

He said WSDOT originally bought the land as part of the Interstate 705 project, and may have used the property as a staging area before it became a park.

Occupy Tacoma demonstrators had about three dozen tents at the park until WSDOT told them to clear out, citing liability worries. They complied without incident.

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