A new area for Swan Creek Park

Joy shone like the sun in the late fall air in Swan Creek Park.

“Good boy, take the stick!” A woman called to a Shih Tzu frolicking around the dog park.

” Two three four five ! Chanted two children, jumping on game stumps.

And at the end of the zigzagging trail, three teenagers on bikes skidded to a stop to check out the picnic shelter.

After several years of community planning and construction, Metro Parks Tacoma is close to completing a fun new recreation area in Swan Creek Park that provides residents and visitors of Eastside with a new space to play, explore nature. and history and spending time with family. The park is officially open on December 17th and the restrooms will open on New Years.

“The community told us they wanted a safe place to play with children and dogs, to organize picnics and events, and to connect other areas of the park,” said Hollie Rogge, deputy director of Metro Parks. for neighborhood and community parks. We are truly delighted to offer all of this and more in this area.

The improvements were funded by more than $ 4 million in 2014 and 2005 bonds approved by voters in the city of Tacoma, a grant of $ 720,323 from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office Legacy Grant and $ 17,500 from the Greater Metro Parks Foundation.

“Expanding connections with nature and community in the eastern part of Tacoma is an important part of Metro Parks’ commitments to equity, inclusiveness and sustainability,” said Erik Hanberg, Chairman of the Board. by Metro Parks. “The new improvements don’t just add to Swan Creek Park as a regional attraction. but also improve access and quality of life for Eastside residents of all ages and abilities.

But while the new area has many new amenities, it blends seamlessly with the wilderness and deep history of Swan Creek Park.

Located immediately upstream (south) of Lister Elementary and accessible via T Street, the new neighborhood begins with a picnic shelter – much-needed, in this massive 373-acre green space between eastern Tacoma and Pierce County. A parking lot follows, with 75 new spaces interspersed with plantings – so much easier for park accessibility, as well as for larger community events.

Split rail wooden fences separate the parking lot from the surrounding secondary forest with a rustic and natural feel. The Highlands meander five miles of renovated trails and 3.65 miles of paved bike and pedestrian paths, some of which overlook the original streets of the WWII housing project that once occupied the highlands. These in turn connect the mountain bike trails at the south end of Swan Creek Park with the Community Garden to the north – an ideal riding area tucked away behind Lister Elementary School and First Creek Middle School. They also connect to the new bike-friendly Pipeline Trail across the east side of town and provide a way to cross the park’s Salmon Creek Canyon.

“The improvements to the trails and trails in Swan Creek Park will provide students and surrounding youth with safe and accessible spaces to learn to ride a bike or scooter,” said Cailin Henley, Safe Routes to School coordinator for the town of Tacoma, one of the many community groups. with a contribution to the design of the project. “Learning these skills in safe, low-stress places like parks helps young people gain self-confidence before they hit the city streets. The new park facilities are excellent investments in the well-being and safety of youth, families and residents of Tacoma.

Remember to slow down as you approach the park from the intersection of T and East 44e Streets – especially during school arrival and departure times.

As you walk east along the wide paved path from the parking lot, you soon reach a crossroads – and this is where the fun really begins. On the east side, a dog park surrounds a four-acre forest area, perfect for dogs to scratch, run, and meet off-leash friends. Funded in part by the Greater Metro Parks Foundation (GMPF), the dog park is the largest on the east side of Tacoma, adding to other Point Defiance, Wapato and Rogers parks.

“It’s all about fairness,” said Hannah Fields, associate director of foundation and corporate relations at GMPF. “Many people who live near Swan Creek face transportation barriers to find places where they can recreate with their animals. The new Swan Creek Dog Park offers local residents a wonderful place to visit with their dog on foot. Going to the park with your dog also has many health benefits, both mentally and physically. And finally, being a semi-forested natural park, it’s so much more rewarding to explore for our canine friends. It was really important to the private donors who made the dog park possible.

Just beyond the dog park is the human playground. Called “Pause-and-Play,” this is a stretch of an old road that has been deasphalted in some areas to create a square zigzag, with maples, birches and shrubs nestled around the edges. Along the path are logs to sit on, nestled in mulch, and several clusters of stumps at various low heights, complemented by vertical posts made from smoothed tree trunks.

Colored circles dot the path and invite meanders. Everything is very natural, untreated wood, to create a place where nature meets playful exploration. (It also slows down cyclists before they encounter pedestrians.)

But you can experience the history here as well as the nature. Interpretive signs recall with colorful graphics the use layers of Swan Creek: Puyallup and the nearby inhabitants of Nisqually, Squaxin and Muckleshoot who hunted, searched, and counseled here until the middle of the 19e century and still live and raise families in the area. Loggers who have left their mark in the old cedar forest. Apple planters and pickers, WWII factory workers in newly built homes, and today’s communities foraging in the “food forest” and recreating themselves in the park.

The graphic stencils – orange, aqua, indigo and green for different time periods – are repeated in large circles painted on the cobblestone paths, another invitation to explore and learn. Lushootseed’s Greetings greet visitors and recognize the traditional Indigenous stewards of the land.

At the end of Pause-and-Play is a large picnic shelter, with two large sloping roofs and room for ten picnic tables – perfect for large community gatherings. (Rentals will begin in 2022.) Nearby are bike racks and a tool station, including a handy air pump. Back near the entrance to the dog park are two unisex toilets that will open as soon as the power can be connected.

“I think the new section is great,” says Noah Struthers, executive director of 2sd Cycle, a non-profit organization that organizes walks in public parks and bicycle-related programs for young people in court. “Parking increases visibility and safety, and having water, toilets and a place to meet makes it much easier to organize community events. ”

The new section of Swan Creek Park also contributes to environmental conservation. Along the sides are organic gullies – natural depressions with plants that soak up and filter runoff instead of sending it and their pollutants through drains into Puget Sound. Trash cans and dog bag stations will help everyone keep the area clean.

“A lot of our parks are very manicured, with mown lawns or rose bushes,” said Kristi Evans, project manager for the new improvements. “But Swan Creek is a beautiful natural space, an urban forest and a stream. We’ve kept that natural feel, from reusing rocks and soil, to turning dangerous trees we needed to fell into new fun features and mulch.

Even fragments of the old asphalt sidewalks from World War II have been left as a trace of history. It’s flawed, beautiful, and just a little wild – yet a safe place to explore.

Tacoma, it’s time to rediscover Swan Creek Park.

Learn more about MetroParksTacoma.org/place/swan-creek-park.


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