For now, marking progress at Pierce County's Chambers Creek park and golf course is like watching grass grow.
But that's about to change. In the coming months, as warm weather helps fill in the golf course turf, the public will get its first glimpse of the county's vision for 930 acres along Puget Sound in University Place.
The Chambers Bay Golf Course will start accepting tee times as soon as next month. A walking and biking trail will open in May. The course should open in late June. Two grassy park areas will open next year.
Future development also is taking shape. The County Council on Tuesday will consider an updated master plan for the site that includes lodging, restaurants and off-leash dog areas.
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Joe Scorcio, assistant director of Pierce County Public Works and Utilities, described the county's ambitions for the Chambers Creek property this way: "It's not a park. It's a destination."
Right now, the property is a destination for workers finishing the Chambers Bay Golf Course, a championship-caliber course that county officials hope one day hosts major tournaments.
Already, representatives of the United States Golf Association, which conducts such events as the U.S. Open, have toured the links-style course. Mark Luthman, regional operations director for KemperSports, which will operate the course, confirmed the golf association's visit but declined to elaborate.
In promotional material, the county describes Chambers Bay as "Washington state's golf masterpiece - a unique tribute to the historic links of Scotland and Ireland." Luthman said the course will attract golfers from across the country and around the world.
But the course also will cater to Pierce County golfers, who will get a break on greens fees. Already Chambers Bay has booked tournaments for local business and nonprofit groups, such as the American Heart Association.
The course might announce greens fees next month and begin taking tee times in late March or early April. Chambers Bay is expected to open for golf in late June, though the exact date will depend on the weather.
Tony Tipton, the county's Chambers Bay Golf Course project manager, said crews already are mowing grass. But he said the course needs more sunshine and warm weather to fill in.
Though the golf course has gained the most attention, the county's Chambers Creek property will offer opportunities for people with other interests.
On May 5, the county will open a 3-mile walking trail that winds through and around the golf course. The trail will connect to the existing Grandview Trail.
Next year the county will open two grassy areas, known as Central Meadow and North Meadow, to the public. The areas combined will offer more than 25 acres of space for recreation.
Long-term plans for the property include beach access, a restored fishing pier, an environmental education center and off-leash dog areas. Plans also call for up to 124 lodging units and up to three restaurants that would serve golfers and the general public.
The golf course, trail, meadows and related improvements will cost the county $23.4 million.
The county paid for those projects with a 20-year bond and a loan from county sewer fund reserves. The county expects to repay the money with revenue generated by the golf course.
If that's not enough, it will use sewer revenue or property and sales tax revenue to pay the debt. But Brian Ziegler, director of public works and utilities, said the county expects golf course revenue to cover the cost.
The cost and timetable for developing other amenities are uncertain. But Scorcio expects most of the property to be developed by the time the site plan is updated in 10 years.
On Tuesday, the County Council will hold a public hearing on the new Chambers Creek property master plan.