$500,000 grant will fund further development of Point Defiance Park

Development of the 11-acre Peninsula at Point Defiance Park, waterfront land now closed to public access, could begin later this fall after Metro Parks Tacoma received a $500,000 federal grant.

Metro Parks received the grant from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. It was just one of four projects statewide to receive funding.

The park land is on the peninsula that is home to the Tacoma Yacht Club and includes almost a half-mile of shoreline.

“The peninsula itself … has never been open to the public before. That is substantial and exciting,” said Curtis Hancock, project manager for Metro Parks.

With the money, the park district will be able to build a waterfront trail, parking areas, restrooms and other amenities, Hancock said. The trail would connect with the path that leads through the Point Ruston development on the former Asarco site and connects with the walkway along Ruston Way. The peninsula park trail also will connect with a trail leading into the main portion of Point Defiance Park.

“It’s a pretty passive park, all in all,” he added.

Metro Parks is currently designing the park, which won’t open for years.

“Hopefully we’ll move some dirt this fall,” Hancock said. “Construction will start in earnest in the spring and the work will continue through 2016. It probably won’t be open to the public until 2017. Unfortunately it is going to take that long.”

What will not happen as planned — unless further funding is acquired — is construction of a proposed fishing pier. That part of the project will require another $2 million in funding, Hancock said.

Development of the peninsula park is part of a larger effort to redevelop that part of the 765-acre Point Defiance Park.

“Over time, in the next few years, that whole place will be reshaped. This (project) is just part of that overall work,” Hancock said.

Grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund help protect and enhance outdoor spaces that draw visitors who support local businesses, said U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor.

“Outdoor recreation plays a big role in our region’s economy and I will continue to support this fund so it can help protect the natural landscape that furthers job opportunities and provides areas to spend time with family and friends,” Kilmer said in a statement.

Congress created the federal fund in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources, and to provide money to federal, state and local agencies to purchase land, water and wetlands. The fund’s primary revenue source is from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Other South Sound projects that have been supported by the fund include the municipal pool in Fife, Harry Todd Park in Pierce County, Tenino Park, Lacey Community Park and Capital Lake Park in Olympia.