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Remembering Tacoma Author Frank Herbert - With a Park
This week’s meeting of Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will include the discussion of a proposal to rename Peninsula Park as Frank Herbert Park.
Never heard of Peninsula Park or Frank Herbert? You’re likely not alone.
Peninsula Park is the current name for the park being built by Point Ruston developers on the former rocky slag heap behind the Tacoma Yacht Club marina. The property is owned by Metro Parks Tacoma and is a part of the grander vision of connecting Point Defiance to Ruston Way, and the rest of Tacoma’s waterfront.
Peninsula Park sits right next to the old Asarco site that inspired Herbert’s concern for the health of the planet.
Tacoma native Frank Herbert wrote Dune and other science fiction works with recurring themes of environmental conservation and the delicate balance of nature. A letter from Eric Hanberg, Metro Parks Commissioner and former writer at Exit133, appearing on Post Defiance earlier this year, includes quotes from Herbert’s son, describing his father’s experiences in Tacoma as major motivators in this interest in threats to the environment.
Dad was a daily witness to conditions in Tacoma, which in the 1950s was known as one of the nation’s most polluted cities, largely due to a huge smelter whose stack was visible from all over the city, a stack that belched filth into the sky. The air was “so thick you could chew it,” my father liked to quip. The increasing pollution he saw all around him, in the city of his birth, contributed to his resolve that something had to be done to save the Earth. This became, perhaps, the most important message of Dune.
On May 22, Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Daniel Rahe introduced a proposal to change the name of Peninsula Park to Frank Herbert Park in honor of Herbert’s literary accomplishments. The idea will be discussed at this week’s LPC meeting. We can see the case for Herbert as a good match for naming a former slag heap turned waterfront park. It makes us wonder, what other little remembered Tacomans might we memorialize?
Read more from Post Defiance.
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