Exit133 is about Tacoma

Board of Park Commissioners Unanimously Vote to Present Parks & Zoo Bond Measure to Voters

Election Day – April 22, Earth Day

The Board of Park Commissioners voted 4-0 on February 24, to prepare a capital bond measure for Park & Zoo Improvements and Safety Upgrades that will go before voters on April 22.

The Board action follows multiple years of working with the public on the development of a comprehensive capital plan for park and recreation assets throughout the nearly 3,000-acre system. Through its planning processes with the community and staff review of system assets, Metro Parks identified and prioritized more than $500 million in needs system wide. 

The $198 million public investment would help preserve the more than century-old park system through the following districtwide capital priorities:

Park Improvements and Expanded Citywide Access to Recreation

  • Renovate and improve neighborhood parks and recreation facilities districtwide including playfields, trail improvements, restrooms, picnic areas and shelters, community gardens, and recreation facility upgrades.
  • Expand access to family community centers, including partnership funding for a new eastside community center, and make districtwide upgrades to recreation and sports facilities that support after-school programs for youth and teens.
  • Replace or upgrade aged and outdated children’s playgrounds, pools and aquatic facilities to meet safety standards.

Preservation of Point Defiance Park, Zoo & Aquarium

  • Make critical improvements to animal life-support systems at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and replace the failing 51-year-old North Pacific Aquarium. Provide classroom space for students and the community to engage in environmental and conservation education.
  • Make significant renovations to the zoo’s aging Polar Bear and Rocky Shores/Walrus exhibits to rebuild critical life-support systems and meet rising animal care standards.
  • Make improvements throughout Point Defiance Park including critical infrastructure preservation, a new destination children’s playground, restroom renovations, viewpoints, parking, and ADA accessibility and pedestrian safety.

Protection of Lakes & Natural Areas, Waterfront Access and Connecting Trails

  • Protect critical habitat and preserve open space, natural areas, lakes, creeks and streams throughout the district including, but not limited to Wapato Lake, Swan Creek, Puget Creek Natural Area, Garfield Natural Area, and Titlow Park.
  • Enhance access to and use of natural areas through trail and path expansions, parking, restroom and picnic shelter improvements, wildlife habitat enhancements and lake enhancements to improve water quality.
  • Provide matching funds to develop 12-acres of peninsula waterfront park land at Point Defiance Park (between Ruston Way and the Point Defiance ferry); make improvements at Les Davis Pier, Jack Hyde Park on Commencement Bay, Dash Point, Thea Foss Waterway; and, provide shoreline stabilization and protection needed for public access.
  • Provide partnership funds to support the development of citywide trail systems such as Pipeline Trail, Prairie Line Trail and the Schuster Parkway Promenade.

Preservation of Regional, Cultural and Historic Landmarks

  • Protect and enhance historic and cultural landmarks across Tacoma, including Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Wright Park to enhance visitor experiences and bolster opportunities for horticultural and historic education.
  • Preserve and restore the historic Point Defiance Lodge (Visitor Center) and 1930s picnic shelters at Point Defiance Park and Lincoln Park.


Safety, Health & Security Upgrades

  • Make safety, health and security improvements at neighborhood parks and recreation facilities districtwide including upgrades to security lighting at parks, recreation centers and parking areas to comply with emerging health, safety and accessibility standards.
  • Help fund needed clean-up of arsenic-contaminated areas at Point Defiance Park and other affected parks in the district.

Renovation of neighborhood and regional parks, preservation of Point Defiance Park, Zoo & Aquarium, protection of natural areas and open space, and improvements in safety and security would be funded by the bond measure. The anticipated cost of the $198 million bond would be approximately $8 per month over the life of the bond for the average homeowner with an assessed property value of $171,000.

Backed by strong public interest, the Board voted to bring forward the measure with a vision to leverage the initial voter investment through grants and philanthropic contributions for key initiatives.

“Metro Parks’ staff have a proven track record of stretching the investment made by our citizens”, Park Board President Tim Reid stated, pointing to the District’s commitment and success rate in its pursuit of matching grants and donations secured by the District to complement the voter investment in the 2005 Park Improvement Bond.

Established in 1907 as the first independent park district in Washington State, Metro Parks Tacoma is responsible for nearly 3,000 acres of park lands. In addition to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the District’s many assets include historic sites such as W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, the Point Defiance Pagoda and Lodge and the Browns Point Keeper’s Cottage. The District also operates a variety of recreation and nature education facilities including Tacoma Nature Center, four community centers, athletic complexes, swimming pools, spray grounds and more than 35 playgrounds.

“Citizens have repeatedly expressed their desire to continue investments in our park and recreation assets, to ensure that these treasured community spaces continue to enhance the quality of life in Tacoma for generations to come,” Reid said. “It’s fitting that the election will take place on April 22, as our community joins in the celebration of Earth Day.” 

Get More Information at MetroParksTacoma.org/2014ParksZooBond


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