By: dgardner

BCRA proud to support Browns Point community

* BCRA is currently leading stakeholder discussions for the Historic Browns Point park.

Browns Point park at center of changes, agency overlaps
Tacoma Weekly
July 1, 2014
By Steve Dunkelberger 

It’s not what is in this “final plan” that has raised the most concern for some people in the historical community. It’s what isn’t mentioned that has their eyebrows raised.

The Points Northeast Historical Society has restored a single-room, 8-by-12 foot real estate office that Puyallup Tribal member and council member Jerry Meeker used to sell waterfront lots for $250 during the early 1900s. The office had been lost to history until it was discovered in 2009 in the backyard of a nearby home. It has since been restored and stocked with plat maps and period artifacts as a way to more fully tell the story of early Tacoma and Pierce County development. The office is stored three blocks from the lighthouse and moved on a trailer to the lighthouse property for display during special occasions, including salmon bakes, a regional event that Meeker started generations ago.

The historical society would like the park’s improvement plans to set aside a patch of land where the office could be located for permanent display. Talks have been ongoing for years, but nothing has come of them. But talks continue.

“People love it, and it is an important part of the history of the area,” said society president Jim Harnish. “They (Metro Parks officials) have just been dragging their feet for years. Maybe they don’t want to be responsible for another building, but the historical society is the one that takes care of all the buildings.”

But there are logical reasons for the foot dragging. Permitting a permanent location at the park for the restored real estate office requires a lot of signatures. The land is owned by the Coast Guard and managed by Metro Parks, which in turn has a lease with the historical society to operate the facility, provide tours and host events on the property. The site is on the national registry of historical sites, but not on the Pierce County Registry after the Puyallup Tribe raised concerns about the land being inside the tribal reservation area. The lack of a local historical designation dramatically limits preservation grants available for the property. The overlapping interests of federal, county, parks, the non-profit historical society and tribal interests therefore means any changes at the lighthouse park requires intricate talks.

Adding those talks would bog down the current parks improvement discussions, project manager Roger Stanton said.

“We don’t want to open that can of worms. It is a mess just for that one issue,” he said, noting that the park plans include space for the real estate office to be on “temporary exhibit. “Obviously, that leaves the door open as what ‘temporary’ is.”

The location overlooking Commencement Bay from the uphill slope of Northeast Tacoma has been home to a lighthouse since 1887, two years before Washington became a state. A simple white lantern on a post was preplaced by a formal lighthouse and keeper residence in 1901. The current lighthouse dates back to 1933.The area became a public park in 1964 when the station. The park is open during daylight hours and historical tours of the lighthouse, the keeper’s cottage, which is also rented out, and are available from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays during the summer.

Metro Parks is in the final stages of public talks about the proposed changes. The entire park improvement project is expected to be completed by next summer, just in time for the bi-annual fish fry.

View original article via Tacoma Weekly

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