City to add safety features to Fireman’s Park

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Public Works crews are adding “safety enhancements” to Fireman’s Park in downtown Tacoma that include the removal of bushes and trees as well as flatten the landscaping.

The downtown park that overlooks the Foss Waterway is one of the city’s oldest open spaces and home to the 115-year-old totem pole that was a central image of the film “Eyes of the Totem.”

Work has already started with the removal of the park’s logger statue and other artwork so that they are not damaged during the yardwork. They will be reinstalled once the work is done. The totem is too fragile to move and not located close enough to the worksite to be in danger of harm.

The driver behind the park improvements is to provide for better visibility from A Street to help control criminal activity and improve safety. A public meeting about the park changes is set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, in room 243 of the Tacoma Municipal Building. Leveling of the park will begin in the second week of December and should be done by February.

Crews will install fencing on the Schuster Slope side of the park as an additional barrier against falls from the park.

The park is owned by the city and not part of the Metro Parks Tacoma roster of parks around the city and offers some of the best views of Commencement Bay, Mount Rainier, the working waterfront. The park dates back to the earliest days of the city. Created in 1894, the park draws its name from the city’s first brick fire station, Engine House No. 6, that was located nearby.

The most notable feature at the park, outside of the wondering homeless people looking for a quiet spot to sit, lunchtime rush of downtown workers getting some fresh air before returning to their cubical farms or the spontaneous romantic exchanges from the nearby bars, is the 83-foot tall totem pole that was in the news in recent years after it was found that it was rotting. The totem has been braced into place, after being moved twice during its history. It was first erected outside of what was then the Tacoma Hotel on land that is now the vacant State Farm building and then moved a block away 1953 and then again in the 1970s to Fireman’s Park to make way for the construction of Interstate 705.

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