10 ways to improve Point Defiance Park

August 19, 2005 

Problem 1: Paying for park upkeep, capital improvements

Solutions: Parking and entrance fees, voter-approved taxes, moneymaking concessions or attractions in triangle area near park entrance

Who proposes them? All have been raised in studies and reports over the years.

What will it cost? $76.2 million for basic infrastructure needs, improvements and repairs; $2 million-plus for annual maintenance

Timeline: Ongoing. To be discussed in master planning process.

Problem 2: Park entry can’t accommodate all the traffic. It confuses drivers and threatens pedestrians.

Solution: Build a new “grand entry” – perhaps a roundabout.

Who proposed it? Suggested in 1980 and 2004 park improvement studies.

Will it be done? Parks officials believe a new entry is necessary, but it could prove difficult given past controversy over traffic changes in the park. Decision will be made during master planning process.

What will it cost? Unknown

Timeline: Unknown

Problem 3: Not enough parking

Solution: Several proposed: parking structures outside the park, shuttle service around the park, more public transportation to Point Defiance

Who proposed it? Several studies over the years

Will it be done? Solutions are difficult. Issue will be discussed in master planning process.

What will it cost? Likely expensive but depends on solution

Timeline: Not set

Problem 4: Sparse and confusing signs make it difficult for park visitors to find their way.

Solution: Install new, uniform signs throughout the park.

Who proposes it? Suggested in a 1980 improvement plan; recommended in a 2004 plan

Will it be done? Yes. Ilium Associates produced a $49,800 plan featuring brown-and-green signs with white lettering.

What will cost? $500,000

Timeline: To be phased in as needs arise and budget allows

Problem 5: 70-year-old water system provides inadequate flow; can’t be relied on for fighting a forest fire

Solution: Replace it.

Who proposes it? Parks officials

Will it be done? Eventually

What will it cost? $7.5 million

Timeline: Unscheduled. Depends on funding.

Problem 6: Bluffs are eroding, and some Five Mile Drive viewpoints are too close to the edge

Solution: Move road, viewing spots away from bluffs; improve drainage

Who proposes it? Problems noted in several studies

Will it be done? “We don’t have a choice, something has to be done soon,” said park project manager Curtis Hancock.

What will it cost? Undetermined

Timeline: Unknown. New master plan will address the situation.

Problem 7: Aging Vashon Island ferry terminal snarls traffic.

Solution: Relocate it.

Who proposes it? State Department of Transportation

Will it be done? It’s doable, but the cost and availability of an alternate site are big obstacles.

What will it cost? Estimates range from $36 million to $66 million

Timeline: At least 10 years, if at all

Problem 8: Boat launch too small. Queue sometimes extends a mile up Pearl Street.

Solution: Enlarge facility from four to eight lanes. Add breakwater to protect the launch and boats.

Who proposes it? Boaters want it; 16,500 use the launch annually

Will it be done: Yes

What will it cost? $2.2 million

Timeline: Construction could be completed in August 2006.

Problem 9: Zoo’s North Pacific Aquarium is 42 years old. Rocky Shores exhibit is 23. Both saltwater attractions are showing wear.

Solution: Replace aquarium – perhaps relocate it to the waterfront. Renovate Rocky Shores.

Who proposes it? Zoo officials

Will it be done? Still in “dreaming” stage. No formal plans made, but work likely needed between 2008 and 2015.

What will it cost? $40 million or more

Timeline: Depends on taxpayers or fundraising

Problem 10: Aging Boathouse needs to accommodate longer craft; boat elevators need work

Solution: Renovate building.

Who proposed it? Metro Parks

Will it be done? Undetermined

What will it cost? Estimated at $19.2 million

Timeline: Depends on funding

Sources: Metro Parks and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium officials; Point Defiance Park Comprehensive Improvement Plan, 1980; Point Defiance Park Urban Forest Management Plan, 1995; Geotechnical consultation, GeoEngineers, 2004; Point Defiance Park Needs Assessment Plan, 2003; Point Defiance Park Revitalization Plan, 2004; Washington Department of Transportation

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