Metro Parks Tacoma issues capital projects update

The W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory at Wright Park will undergo restoration and expansion, with a steering committee formed and schematic design underway. Restroom improvements are nearing completion.

By Matt Nagle


The fine folks at Metro Parks Tacoma have provided an update to the public on all of its many projects either underway or at completion. There is a lot going on, all to improve and enhance the city’s numerous parks and amenities.

In 2014, voters approved a record $198 million bond issue to pay for capital improvements throughout the Metropolitan Park District of Tacoma. “But the real investment district residents are getting isn’t $198 million. It’s more like $265 million, and counting,” Park Board Commissioner Tim Reid wrote in a message to Tacomans. “Metro Parks doesn’t like to go it alone when it comes to community investment. Instead, your park district combines its financial resources with those of other government partners, nonprofits, foundations, donors and other entities. The result is more investment in your community than the 2014 bond alone would bring.”


Eastside Community Center
Metro Parks is working with Tacoma Public Schools, the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Housing Authority, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, and the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties to develop a new facility to meet the needs of the Eastside community. More updates will be available in the months ahead. Status: Center is open
Prairie Line Trail
Metro Parks is coordinating with the City of Tacoma for an extension of the urban trail that follows the former Prairie Line Rail corridor from South 23rdStreet through the University of Washington-Tacoma campus and extending to Dock Street along the Thea Foss Waterway. This phase will complete the trail from Pacific Avenue to Dock Street.
Status: The city is in the right-of-way phase of finalizing easements and is scheduled to bid in 2019.


Point Defiance Park – Waterfront Phase 1
Complete the public pathway from Point Ruston to Point Defiance Park with a new trail and bridge over Pearl Street. Provide a new location for boat and trailer parking to support the existing boat launch. Finish the remediation work at the Point Defiance peninsula and establish a new park on the peninsula land.
Status: Construction of Wilson Way is nearly complete pending the completion of connecting trails and nearby landscaping. Paving is ongoing for the last section of trail near Point Ruston. The restroom pavilion building and other on-site structures are approaching completion. Final site furnishings, lighting and public art are in progress.

See for more information about Waterfront Phase I and the master plan update.

Point Defiance Park: Roundabout
Design and build a roundabout at the entrance to Point Defiance Park, while updating the intersection at 51stand Pearl Street and providing a bike lane from 51stto 54thStreet.
Status: Project is substantially complete and fully operational and will reach final completion once all the punch-list items are complete.

Parking and Circulation Study
This is a full comprehensive study for the vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic circulation and additional parking at Point Defiance Park. After the study is completed, it will be presented with alternatives for additional parking and improved circulation.
Status: The Loop Trail Project is now moving into final design and will move into the permitting and bidding phase in mid-2019.
Japanese Garden Design
In cooperation with Tacoma’s sister city Kitakyushu, this project will reconstruct the Japanese garden in front of the Pagoda in the traditional style. This phase will complete the design as we work with Japanese garden designers from Japan.
Status: On hold pending final design of the Loop Trail Project, as this influences final design of the Japanese Garden expansion design.
Green House Relocation
Relocated greenhouse production operations to the Tacoma landfill. Status: Project is in closeout.
Boat Lift Improvements
Improvements will be made to the grates, guide beams, lift enclosures, switches and other improvements as a result of the inspection/design process.
Status: All three lifts have passed final inspection and are operational. Contactor is completing a few minor items on the punch list and contract closeout is underway.
Point Defiance Owen Beach Improvements
Site improvements at Owen Beach that include new restroom building, renovation and addition of new shelter, new playground, kayak launch and beach accessibility, parking, landscaping and walkway improvements.
Status: Project is moving into final design phase.


New Aquarium
Design and construction of a new aquarium to replace the aging North Pacific Aquarium.
Status: New aquarium is complete and open to the public.
Picnic Shelter
Construct a picnic shelter to be placed in the location where Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium currently sets up tents for this purpose every summer. This is to be a permanent structure.
Status: Project is complete
See the zoo’s capital projects page at for more information.


New Tacoma

  • W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory restoration and expansion: Steering committee formed and schematic design is underway.
    Status: Applied for a state heritage grant that will be granted the summer of 2019. If awarded, funds will go toward upgrades to the existing conservatory and the three facades.
  • W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory restroom
    design: Development through construction of a restroom connecting to the existing conservatory.
    Status: The project is nearing completion.
  • Foss Waterway Parks: In collaboration with the Foss Waterway Development Authority, this project includes the design for two park sites along the Foss Waterway including a new boathouse facility for kayaks and shells.
  • Central Park: 100 percent design development is complete and comments received. Waiting on the city for their storm pipe project to permit and start construction. Metro Parks’ permits will not take as long as the city’s. The storm project is on this property.
  • Waterway Park: Staff is now tasked with programming. Ballard Kings next task is a ProForma looking to the first of the year to be complete with the Management and Operations Plan.
  • Neighbors Park: Play court resurfacing and ADA access.
    Status: Will be completed under Phase 2 of the Districtwide Court Improvement project.

North Tacoma

  • Dickman Mill Park expansion and Head Saw: An extension of the existing Dickman Mill Park to restore and publicly display the historic Head Saw and provide plaza space with expanded decking for viewing.
    Status: All environmental permits are submitted. Construction drawings now being finalized.

South Tacoma

  • Meadow Park Facility improvements: Identification and implementation of improvements, including irrigation control and upgrades to the restrooms, restaurant and pro shop.
    Status: The driving range and smaller associated buildings (ball shed and teaching studio) reached substantial completion in mid-2018. Final gas service upgrades completed in early January 2019 for driving range heaters. Final round of improvements will focus upon pro-shop building.
  • Meadow Park Hole #13 Bridge improvements: Structural analysis of bridge, bridge improvement design recommendations, survey baseline establishment for bridge monitoring.
    Status: Engineering is complete for structural upgrades to the bridge, with construction scheduled for 2019.
  • Oak Tree Site upgrades and art project: Implementation of development plan to include new parking lot and seasonal restroom shelter, tool storage shed, trail and path upgrades, site furniture, tree removals, prairie expansions and native plantings to support oak habitat, new nature playground, park I.D. and wayfinding/ interpretive signage. After the city completed the Prairie Line Trail, Metro Parks Tacoma will provide restoration to two adjacent areas to the trail (pump house parking lot, gravel pit and partnering with the City of Tacoma with an art project).
    Status: Project is in the bid phase with construction expected to begin late spring of 2019.
  • South Park: Play court resurfacing and ADA access.
    Status: Improvements scheduled for 2019 under Phase 2 of the Districtwide Court Improvement project.

South End

  • Wapato Park – Dock Replacement: This will replace the two wooden dock structures for improved access and paddleboat/ kayak launching and events.
    Status: Project is complete.
  • Charlotte’s Blueberry Park garden/playground: Design of community garden/park amenities. Continuation of public process to address possible addition of playfield, trails, and/or wetland enhancement.
    Status: The community gardens portion of the project is complete. Completion of the new children’s play area scheduled by spring 2019.
  • Verlo Playfield: Basketball court resurfacing and ADA access. ADA access to tennis court, consider alternative use for tennis court area.
    Status: Will be completed under Phase 2 of the Districtwide Court Improvement project.
  • Stewart Heights Park: Court improvements. Status: Construction is in progress.
  • Swan Creek Phase II – Master Plan Update and Construction: Update master plan and pursue conditional use permit
    Status: Master plan update was presented at a Metro Parks Board Study Session in January 2019. With formal adoption of the master plan, the final design of improvements will get underway in early 2019.


  • Browns Point Lighthouse: Accessible pathways and promenade, additional parking, new furnishings.
    Status: Project is substantial complete. Generator building improvements are underway (Sept. – Nov. 2018). These improvements are funded completely by Points NE Historical Society.
  • Browns Point Playfield: Basketball and tennis court reconstruction due to large cracks, improve ADA parking and access route to basketball courts. Make necessary improvements to play equipment.
    Status: Design work continues for court renovations and new children’s play equipment, with construction scheduled for 2019.


  • Tacoma Nature Center Building and ADA improvements: The scope of work includes ADA upgrades and improvements to the entry ramp and entry door; relocation of a utility pole at Discovery Pond; replacement of exterior wooden stair treads; and utility routing to Coyote Flats. There will also be minor site and signage upgrades on the Nature Center property and a facility assessment to the main building. Dependent upon the result of the facility assessment, the scope of work may shift to address needs at the main building.
    Status: Building assessment and preliminary design documents are being prepared to improve and upgrade a failing exterior envelope (roof, windows, siding, doors, and exterior landings) of the main Nature Center building.

West End

  • Titlow Lagoon Design and Phase 1: Provide matching funds for lagoon restoration in accordance with partnering agencies.
    Status: Geotechnical investigation completed in June 2018: Borings up to 80 feet deep on either side of the existing lagoon culvert were drilled and ground penetrating radar was completed along the BNSF right-of-way. Metro Parks Tacoma continues coordination with South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group on the planning of future lagoon restoration project.
  • Titlow/Hidden Beach Improvements: Hidden Beach and natural area trail/path/beach access upgrades. Landscaping enhancements, natural area restoration, demolition of shelter and old restroom at Hidden Beach. Utility modifications at former TOA facility. Remove or perform bridge retrofits to TOA Railroad bridge.
    Status: Scope of phase 1 demolition work is being finalized. A third public meeting is planned for early 2019 to explore future improvement opportunities.
  • Titlow Garage: Renovation of existing shed building adjacent to Titlow Lodge to better serve the needs of parks operations and maintenance team.
    Status: Project was publicly bid through the Small Works Roster with construction expect this winter.



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