Exit133 is about Tacoma
Imagine Tacoma – Fireman’s Park
After enjoying a wonderful May Day evening with the Puget Sound Revels at Tollefson Plaza last week, it was noticeable how ‘hard’ this community space is to really enjoy a downtown Tacoma experience (with the final insult of the pink concrete sitting steps leaving a pink chalk residue on everyone backsides – “Ack, I’ve been Baboon Butted”). So imagine a few minor, and a couple major, modifications to Fireman’s Park to make it more conducive and hospitable to such happenings in the future:
1. Level the Berm: Increase visibility to and from the park by reducing the berm along ‘A’ Street to less than 18” above the adjoining curb. Remove the understory landscaping to maximize visibility and increase lawn sitting and viewing areas.
2. Remove the Gazebo: This structure is ‘hidden’ away and seems to always be in shade from the Russell Building (and is at the noisiest part of the park). It also does not afford the best view of Mt. Tahoma and suffers from bad Feng Shui placement at the downhill end of South 9th Street. So – fence this area off as an ‘exclosure’ and landscape with good acoustic dampening vegetation towards the freeway entrance.
3. Open-up the View Points: Remove the wood planters from the view points to allow walking right-up to the edge of the concrete to take-in the view. Also remove the trees from the remaining planter and replace with overhanging vegetation (ala Freeway Park in Seattle).
4. Level the Lawn: Level the lawn areas – and increase in size – to make the park much more usable for events both programmed and unprogrammed.
5. Add Furniture: Maybe not free flowing table and chairs, but maybe secured chess tables and small picnic tables?
6. Future Pavilion: Located a pavilion at the second view point that had good visibility from a large portion of the park (with the grass lawn providing seating for watching).
7. Create an Identifiable Entrance: Use art to create a welcoming entrance to the park from South 9th Street.
8. Art: Use art to strengthen the visual axes within the park.
9. Viewpoint: The best view from the park is actually at the corner of A Street and South 8th (really – go see). From this vantage point you have a clear view of Commencement Bay, Mt. Tacoma framed within the arch of the Murray Morgan Bridge and even the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. Maybe this is a good point for art of larger civic importance?
10. Urbanize A Street: With the large right-of-way of A Street, add a sidewalk along the East edge to tie the street and park into the pedestrian experience (i.e. you can experience the park without having to enter it). There is probably enough space to incorporate back-in angled parking as well (discharging little Tommy towards the park rather than into the traffic lane).
11. Create Pedestrian Friendly Connection: Rework the pedestrian connections to the park so that pedestrian requirements control rather than the needs of vehicles leaving town.
12. See previous thoughts about the adjacent Fawcett Fountain.
So with all of the clamoring to entice the Russell Company to stay in Tacoma, how about entertaining some community park improvements to Fireman’s Park at their front door that we can all enjoy (and not just every Winter Solstice)?
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