Progress afoot for those who walk, run and ride

The News TribuneMay 16, 2013 

From the shores of Commencement Bay to the foothills of Mount Rainier, more opportunities for recreation are falling into place.

 • The day people will be able to walk from Thea Foss Waterway to Point Defiance is a little closer, thanks to work being done at the old Asarco smelter site. Part of Mike Cohen’s billion-dollar Point Ruston development, the mile-long Waterwalk Esplanade (pointruston.com/lifestyle) will link the existing walkway along Commencement Bay to Point Defiance Park when it opens in the next few months.

The esplanade — which will include benches looking out over the water, landscaping, play areas and Northwest-inspired mosaics — promises to be a spectacular addition to the region’s outdoor inventory. And it will help fulfill the dream of a continuous waterfront walkway.

 • On Tacoma’s East Side, hikers already are enjoying trail improvements to Swan Creek Park, thanks to Metro Parks bond money voters approved in 2005. Soon, mountain bikers will have a place to ride there, just minutes from downtown Tacoma.

Metro Parks has contracted with the nonprofit Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance to design, build and maintain a trail system for two years in the park. At least 1 mile is expected to be completed by July 1 with about another mile built by the end of the year. Volunteers are doing much of the work.

Attracting mountain-biking activity to the park on a regular basis will have the welcome side benefit of discouraging transient camping and use of unauthorized motorized vehicles.

 • In rural Pierce County, efforts to extend the much-used 15-mile Foothills Trail past its current terminus at South Prairie to Buckley had stalled for years. Standing in the way: a mobile-home park owner who refused to sell the land needed. That changed when the county began condemnation proceedings. Now the owner has agreed to a selling price.

Even if all goes well with the sale, the county still has other land parcels to acquire. But this particular one was the major roadblock preventing further progress.

Completing the stretch of the Foothills Trail beyond South Prairie is starting to look doable. Now let’s also make progress on connecting it on the other end to Puyallup’s Riverwalk Trail. It’s a small gap, and one that the city, county and landowners should cooperate in bridging it.

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