If anything was clear from this week’s public gab session on Tacoma’s future, it’s this: Tacomans have high hopes for their gritty city.
In the next decade, residents said they want to see more vibrant businesses, fewer potholes and better public transit in Tacoma, among many other suggestions.
About 300 people – plus another 150 or so city, school, parks or other agency employees – turned out for the Tacoma 2025 open house Wednesday night at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center.
Feedback provided as part of the Tacoma 2025 process will be used to craft a report, which city officials have said will help the city manager and City Council craft future budgets. The city will pay BDS Planning and Urban Design $300,000 to manage the effort.
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City Manager T.C. Broadnax said the city is following through on its promise to create a strategic vision for Tacoma, which was suggested by the Fiscal Sustainability Task Force. The group was tasked last year to come up with ways to close the budget gap, then estimated at $26 million by the end of this year. (The budget gap is now estimated at about $7 million, Broadnax said.)
He added that the task force said “we needed a plan, we needed a road map that came from the people who live and work and play in this community.”
Residents were asked to separate into various focus areas and answer two questions: “What is the biggest issue we face in this focus area?” and “In 2025, how will we know if we’ve succeeded in this focus area?”
In a decade, people want Tacoma to have a reputation for its natural beauty and to see more trees.
About 75 percent of Tacoma residents drive alone to work, according to recent U.S. Census figures. Many at the open house want to see more City Hall support for light rail and bicycle commuting.
Of the city’s economic future, one resident wants two or three more anchor companies recruited to town. One woman said she wants the city’s household income to rise. Nearly half of the city’s households make less than $50,000 per year.
Significantly reducing the city’s bumper crop of potholes by 2025 also made several of the lists.
Carl Mastberg, a member of the South Tacoma Neighborhood Council, seemed skeptical of the exercise.
“I went to the World’s Fair,” he said, recalling the future-focused festival held in Seattle in 1962. “Do you know how much of that came to fruition? Zip.”
Mayor Marilyn Strickland said the city will “carefully analyze the challenges and opportunities” raised by residents at the open house.