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Tacoma not a buyer for Pugnetti Park

Post by Kim Bradford on March 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
March 20, 2012 8:04 pm

A fence blocks access to Don Pugnetti Park. PETER CALLAGHAN/ The News Tribune
Tacoma City Manager T.C. Broadnax says the city is not in a position to take on Pugnetti Park – the sliver of state property adjacent to the Washington State History Museum best known as the recent campsite of Occupy Tacoma.

The state Department of Transportation is looking to unload the little-known property after the occupation by protesters called it to the agency’s attention. The state has approached the city of Tacoma, among others, about buying the property.

“In light of the current budget situation and the fact that the city is currently working to transition many of Tacoma’s park properties to Metro Parks Tacoma, I cannot recommend we acquire this additional park property at this time,” Broadnax said in a statement Tuesday.

Tacoma is facing a $33 million gap in its 2011-12 general fund. The city has already made about $20 million in budget adjustments and has another $13 million to go.

The city estimates the park is worth $500,000 to $600,000. Broadnax told the council on Tuesday that maintenance costs for the park would be $15,000 to $20,000 annually.

“I think it would be contrary to the council’s previous position to take (Pugnetti Park) over,” he said.

Mayor Marilyn Strickland thanked Broadnax for keeping the council’s direction in mind. Broadnax said the city will be trying to lean on Metro Parks to explore ownership of the park.

State officials told The News Tribune last week that the state doesn’t have to pay to maintain the park. A private company takes care of maintenance as part of a deal that allows the company to operate a nearby parking lot.

The park is named for former News Tribune editor Don Pugnetti. His son, Jerry Pugnetti, is an adviser to state Auditor Brian Sonntag and penned an op-ed in today’s paper urging the city of Tacoma to save the park from the state’s “overreaction.”

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