Safety upgrades coming to Tacoma park known for crime, blight

Safety upgrades coming to Tacoma park known for crime, blight (PHOTO: KOMO News)

TACOMA, Wash. -- For years people in Tacoma have stayed away from Fireman’s Park because of the crime and garbage.

Wednesday night, city leaders unveiled new plans to address the safety concerns so the trouble doesn’t hide at the park.

Every Sunday for the past 20 years, Pastors Bruce Walmer and Azon Sultan have witnessed to people at Fireman's Park, but they’ve also witnessed the crime and trash hidden behind the park’s hills that keep others away.

"There's a safety issue that concerns the city and this should have been addressed a long time ago,” said Pastor Azon Sulton. "You never know when you cross over the hills or you go around the berm and go around the wooden barrier, what you're going to see."

Now public works crews will level the mounds in the park so police and people can see what’s really going on. Crews will also take down old trees and replace a deteriorating timber retaining wall at the edge of the park with a fence.

"That's a lot of what we've heard from our businesses and citizens over the years,” said Jennifer Hines, Public Works Assistant Division Manager. “They don't necessarily feel safe using our park. So, what we want to do is increase that feeling of safety to get the park more activated."

The price tag is between $165,000 to $200,000 out of the general fund. It’s an investment officials hope will start getting people back to the park.

"When all of that stuff goes away, it's just going to enhance the City of Tacoma with the parks and it will cut down with the riffraff,” said Pastor Bruce Walmer.

Construction is starting later this month and crews hope to get the park finished by Feb. 2019.

During construction, some of the parks notable monuments will be moved so they won't be damaged, but officials said the 83-foot totem pole is still too fragile to move.

Crews said it’s not close to the construction site so it won't be in harm’s way.

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