City of Tacoma, Metro Parks planning Schuster Slope upgrade

Tacoma officials are asking the community to weigh in on plans for improving vegetation and public access along the slope between Stadium Way and Schuster Parkway.

Improving the Schuster Slope is part of a larger vision to connect the Thea Foss Waterway to Ruston Way through the proposed Schuster promenade, said Ian Munce of Tacoma’s Planning and Development Services Department.

One possible outcome of the project would be downhill trails from Stadium Way to the bottom of Schuster Slope. The city could try to revitalize previous trails along the slope or build a new trail system.

An open house Wednesday will give residents the chance to hear from engineers hired by the city to assess the slope’s stability, which will determine where trails could be built, said Joe Brady, natural resource manager for Metro Parks. The parks district and the city are working jointly on the project.

“Metro Parks is interested because of the public accessibility,” he said. “Obviously we’re dealing with Schuster Slope, and everyone who lives in Tacoma knows that this is a steep slope and stability is a major concern.”

The city’s involvement in the project stems from a concern about preserving native plants and protecting them from invasive species including ivy, said Desiree Pooley, senior environmental specialist for Tacoma.

Having healthy native trees helps absorb rainwater, and the root structures provide better stability, thus preventing landslides, she said.

“We’re looking at the slope in a holistic, responsible and science-based way and using all the information we can gather to balance all the needs of the ecosystem and healthy forests needs as well as the needs of the community,” she said.

Also at Wednesday’s open house, officials plan to discuss concerns about maintaining views along Stadium Way. Last year, the city received a petition from Stadium District property owners who requested the removal of some of the trees planted as part of the $11 million overhaul of Stadium Way to preserve views.

The Wednesday meeting is the first of three. Metro Parks hopes to complete a landscape plan by March, at which time officials will know better how much the project would cost and how long it would take to complete, Brady said.

The meeting is from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Landmark Convention Center’s Rooftop Garden Room, 47 St. Helens Ave. in Tacoma.