Names matter

Metro Parks Tacoma is gathering suggestions for what to call the park with various features and amenities at Point Defiance Park, a peninsula park on Commencement Bay that is set to open next year.

The park will have open spaces and event areas as well as trails, a seal habitat and a pavilion that will draw thousands of visitors every year. They are going to want to call the park’s features something, so Metro Parks officials are asking the public to make suggestions.

While the decision of what the park, its features and its facilities will be called is ultimately up to the elected five-member Metro Parks Board of Commissioners, parks staff and the Park Board want help finding a fitting name for the park right now. The deadline for suggestions is Aug. 4 and can be made online at DestinationPointDefiance.org or at Metro Parks facilities.

The frontrunner name for the park is one that seems fitting. Naming at least a feature at the park after “Dune” author Frank Herbert makes a lot of sense. He spent much of his early years in the city and saw the ecological damage that unchecked industrialization can do to a landscape. He wove those memories of seeing the Asarco copper smelter poison soil and waterways around the region with arsenic and lead into the post-apocalyptic world of his “Dune” series, a vision generations continue to grapple with over discussions about global warming and the future of the Tideflats that overlook the park.

NASA has already named geographical features on Saturn’s moon Titan and Earth’s moon after Herbert, so adding his name to a former Superfund cleanup site turned signature park in a city where he drew “inspiration” for his landmark novels makes sense. Informational signs and programs at a yet-named Herbert Park could also serve as ongoing prompts for future generations to ponder their roles on the planet and what ways their actions affect the quality of life on this ball of dust that could linger for decades.

But certainly there are other aspects of the park that could also bear the names of area notables. The Puyallup Tribe had a village site along the waterway for millennia, so that heritage should be honored as well. Metro Parks has an opportunity to honor the past and affect the future with the names it gives areas of the park. Let’s help it do just that. Submit your suggestions.

Leave a Reply