Safety concerns force changes at popular Tacoma park

Safety concerns at a popular Pierce County park forced the city to make changes.

Rotted wood and remnants from overnight stays can be seen all over Fireman's Park. City of Tacoma workers said businesses and community members have voiced concerns about Fireman’s Park for years.

The Tacoma spot, which sits at 801 A Street, has beautiful views of Commencement Bay, Port of Tacoma and Mount Rainier, but some people said it's gone downhill over the years.

"I've never felt threatened by it, but you're very aware of people yelling and whatnot and you just try to keep your head down and go about your business,” said Paul Forecki.

Forecki works down the road and walks his dogs at Fireman’s Park daily.

"I try not to have my dogs eat the dead rats, let’s put it that way,” he said.

Jennifer Heins is the assistant division manager for the City of Tacoma's Public Works Department. She said complaints about the park have trickled in for years.

“We are working on a rodent control issue,” she said "We also have had homeless activity out there and we have had various reports of criminal activity, such as drug use and other nefarious activity that happens at the park."

Starting in mid-December, the city is going to make changes. They'll rip out trees, bushes and rocks and level the mounds. The goal is to add more visibility and flat grass space.

The enhancements include:
•Better visibility for parkgoers  
• More flat grass spaces
•Fewer mobility obstacles
•New fall prevention barriers

People who use the park were happy to hear the news.

"I certainly have seen needles in the area,” said Andrew Goss. "One time I did find someone passed out on the ground and I wasn't sure if they were alive or not, so I actually called police, so I'm assuming that might also have been drug related."

Hines said the project will cost between $160,000 to $200,000.

The goal is to complete construction in about two months. Workers hope this is one of multiple phases to enhance the park, but it depends on funding in the future.

The City of Tacoma is holding a community meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Tacoma Municipal Building Room 243. Attendees will be able to hear from city staff, give feedback and ask questions.

For more information about the project, visit the City of Tacoma's website

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