Along South Meridian in downtown Puyallup, two buildings stand nearly side by side.
The Puyallup School District administrative offices and Puyallup City Hall are two large entities that have contributed to the success of Puyallup — and they’re mere steps from one another.
But for years, that walk had been an unnecessarily long one. A tall black fence separated the two buildings, and to get from one side to the other, an extra long trek around each building had to be made.
The fence was constructed after the completion of City Hall in 2008. At the time, there was some animosity between the two entities, mostly when it came to easements and land ownership.
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But it was so long ago that both the city and the school district can’t remember the details, and over time, the issues faded.
“Those tensions have long since gone,” Puyallup Mayor John Hopkins said. “The relationship for the last five years has been, as far as I know, amicable.”
Those tensions have long since gone. The relationship for the last five years has been, as far as I know, amicable.
John Hopkins, Puyallup mayor
So both parties decided to do something about that pesky fence.
Working together, the city and the school district designed an opening in the fence for staff — and Puyallup pedestrians — to travel freely between both buildings without having to skirt the perimeter.
It was a project long overdue.
Les Gerstmann, assistant director of construction with the Puyallup School District, helped to design the pathway, which mirrors the original fence.
“The idea here is not so much an opening but a passage,” Gerstmann said.
Staff from City Hall and the Puyallup School District gathered Oct. 16 for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony of the pathway.
“It seems like a small thing, but you already see lots of people utilizing it,” Puyallup School District Superintendent Tim Yeomans said at the gathering.
It seems like a small thing, but you already see lots of people utilizing it.
Tim Yeomans, Puyallup School District superintendent
The school district and city often collaborate on matters, especially when it comes to the school permitting processes. The city also coordinates with the school district to use its facilities for its Recreation Program.
The pathway is meant to represent the open relationship between the two organizations. The pathway will stay open 24 hours a day for people to walk through.
“It really is a neat thing and says a lot about both of our organizations,” Puyallup School District Chief Operations Officer Mario Casello said.
“I see this as a wonderful, symbolic gesture,” Hopkins said.