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News & Stories


A Community Engaged

When asked what they wanted in a community center on the Eastside of Tacoma, one of the things the community clearly wanted was a teaching kitchen. 

Taking a page from the Zina Linnik project, we asked the kids how the kitchen should be designed.  Our “From the Ground Up” educational partnership provides an opportunity for our youngest citizens, with the help and mentorship from higher education students and local professionals in the field, to come together to design specific spaces for Tacoma’s new community & aquatics center on the Eastside.

Students participated from local schools throughout Tacoma’s Eastside - many of whom also attend the Eastside Boys & Girls Club, the organization that volunteered to host the learning project. The youth have been meeting once a week to learn about different types of food, cultures and kitchens. On field trips to Clover Park Technical College’s School of Culinary Arts, they toured the campus teaching and commercial kitchen and full service restaurant.  Students from the Culinary Arts program prepared beignets and sushi for the students. For most, it was the first time they had ever had either of these dishes!

Returning to the Eastside Boys & Girls Club, the younger students went to work on creating their designs.  Working in small groups and a variety of mediums, they developed their vision for the teaching kitchen at the Eastside community center.  Some took to sketch drawing, some used 3D miniature models, others used appliance boxes to layout their designs on the floor, and a few used…marshmallows (though more marshmallows may have been eaten then used in the designs).

On their 2nd week of building their designs, Congressman Denny Heck, State Representative Jake Fey, Metro Parks Commissioner Jessie Baines, and Tacoma Public School Board member Catherine Ushka visited the Imagine Eastside kitchen design project.  After a briefing for the Congressman, everyone joined the students while they worked on the kitchen designs.

Each of the teams had a chance describe their designs and what they felt was important about them - including one student who felt the heart she drew on her design was its most important feature.

Students then got to ask questions of the adults who were visiting them. One student, Gigi, asked if the adults have fun in their work, and each one went around the room to say what is fun about their work. A good reminder for us to stay focused on what is important!

One young man, Branton, asked Congressman Heck if he had ever met the President. The following conversation ensued:  Congressman Heck: “Yes, I have.”, Branton: “The President of the United States?”, Congressman Heck: “Yes, many times”, Branton: “You need to tell the President to come here.”  At the end of the session the Congressman pulled out his phone and showed Branton a video of the Congressman asking the President to support one of his bills in Congress.  Branton was glued to the video the whole time and when it was over Branton said “Remember to tell the President to come here - the President of the United States.”

Once their designs are complete, the students will take another field trip. This time, the trip is to the University of Puget Sound to meet with Communications students there. Together, they will develop their talking points and learn public speaking tips in preparation for their presentations to the Metro Parks Board of Commissioners on April 25th.  


Grand Opening for First Multi-Sport Turf field at SERA

On Saturday March 5, Metro Parks Tacoma publicly opened the first all-season turf field at the South End Recreation and Adventure (SERA) Campus in South Tacoma.

The weather could not have been better, and the mood was festive among the several hundred people in attendance. Former Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant, his bothers, and soccer players from the Tacoma Stars were there to sign autographs and demonstrate the versatility of the field to play both regulation soccer and football. Trufant grew up in Tacoma and played college football for Washington State University before being chosen by the Seahawks 11th overall in the 2003 NFL draft.


Turf fields are a rarity in Tacoma, and those available are in high demand. Some are not open to the public at all, and others charge high rental fees. The SERA field will be a public asset, ready to accommodate current active players, and will encourage new players, many of whom come from neighboring homes without the financial capacity to travel for sports.

The new field is:
• ADA accessible and specially constructed to accommodate our participants with physical disabilities (including hundreds of veterans and active military members) who enjoy programming at the STAR Center.
• Marked and lined for many sports such as soccer, lacrosse, cricket, and touch football, and adaptive sports like beep ball for those with visual impairments.
• Fully lit with LED lights in order to host practice and games year round, extending play seasonally and daily. 

The Greater Metro Parks Foundation works to support Metro Parks programming and is a partner in leveraging private dollars to support capital projects and add to the bond dollars passed by the votes in 2014. The Foundation raised $260,000 in support of the turf field.  Board member and former Board President Richard Brady spoke at the grand opening, and thanked the donors who made this project happen:

Private Donors
The Baker Foundation
Ben B. Cheney Foundation
Dimmer Family Foundation
D.V. & Ida J. McEachern Charitable Trust
Names Family Foundation
The Norcliffe Foundation
TOTE Maritime Alaska

Metro Parks Tacoma Employees
Kristi Evans
Roy Fletcher
Brett Freshwaters
David Griffith
Ryan Hanson
Marci Kriebel
Laurie Larson
Jennifer Lauer
Christina Levingston
Lisa MacDonald
Margaret McCormick
Roxanne Miles
Laura Portalski
Jennifer Wolbrecht


Because Parks Matter 2016

How can we support more access to Tacoma’s world-class parks? On February 24, 255 folks did so by playing games, eating lunch, laughing and crying. This year our Because Parks Matter luncheon at STAR Center raised over $47,000 in support of GMPF’s mission: to invite you to build a healthier, more vibrant community by investing in people and parks.


Take a moment to check out this fun little video of the good time we had at the event. The video was done in-kind by Pacific Lutheran University and produced by Zach Powers: As you can see, people really enjoyed themselves at this joyous event.

The awardees highlight some of the great work that is taking place at Metro Parks:

Outstanding Program: Groovin’ with Marcus

Outstanding Project: SERA Field 

Outstanding Community Group: Liz Rocks Campaign    

We would like to thank everyone who donated and volunteered for the event. Thank you to our sponsors:

ARC Architects 
Heritage Bank 
Brown & Haley 
Advancement Consulting 
University of Puget Sound 
Charley Bingham 
Michele Johnson 
Albers & Company
Bruce Dees & Associates


Eastside community center video released

The Eastside of Tacoma sorely lacks safe, healthy, attractive places for children, youth and their families to gather, learn, play and grow.  During the recession, many services and programs were shuttered in the Eastside. The existing Portland Avenue Community Center is undersized and lacks vital amenities such as a gymnasium. The aging Eastside pool is nearing the end of its useful life.

Metro Parks Tacoma, working in collaboration with the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Public Schools, and the Tacoma Housing Authority will build a new Eastside community and aquatics center next to First Creek Middle School at the corner of Portland Ave and East 56th.

The community center will provide vital activities, resources and skill-building for Eastside youth outside of the school day.  As a gathering place and center of program delivery, the center will become a hub of youth activity in the neighborhood—an assets-based alternative to the violence, crime and boredom that is present in the streets between school and home.

Eastside Video on YouTube


Please call Bryan Flint at (253) 753-8656 to find out how you can help.


Delivering for Our Parks

On Monday, January 25th the Greater Metro Parks Foundation presented the Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Park Commissioners a check for $283,134.98. The Foundation works to support Metro Parks programming, and is a partner in leveraging private dollars to support the capital projects and add to the bond dollars passed by the voters in 2014.

By working with the Resource Development staff of Metro Parks, we raise this money to support programs that improve and enrich the lives of people in Tacoma and Pierce County.

These dollars represent private donations generously contributed from individuals, foundations and companies who support our fabulous park system here in Tacoma.

A significant portion of these funds are for the construction of the multi-purpose artificial turf field at the SERA campus in South Tacoma. Nearly 4,000 public school children from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds surround SERA. As Metro Parks’ first all-season public turf field in Tacoma, it will give opportunities to Tacoma’s youth and families seeking ways to improve their health and fitness, gain new skills and connect to their community through sports. The field is slated to open in early spring.

Funding for the SERA turf field came from generous donors including:

  • Names Family Foundation
  • Norcliffe Foundation
  • Dimmer Family Foundation
  • D.V. & Ida J. McEachern Charitable Trust
  • Ben B. Cheney Foundation
  • TOTE Maritime (formerly Totem Ocean Trailer Express)
  • Baker Foundation
  • And, generous employees of Metro Parks