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Oct 08

Breathing New Life into a Tacoma Neighborhood

Posted on October 8, 2015 at 8:54 AM by Allan Warren

McKinleyDepave7For over a year, we have been working to transform the Dometop Neighborhood of Tacoma in partnership with community members and the City of Tacoma. This past Saturday our efforts were finally realized as more than 40 volunteers helped plant nearly 3,000 trees and shrubs where once there was only pavement.

What started with a simple presentation about our Depave program in the fall of 2014 led to an elaborate planning process with the Dometop Neighborhood Council, the Environmental Services Department of the City of Tacoma, and District staff, led by Melissa Buckingham. The idea was to transform 7,000sqft of excess and ugly pavement in the McKinley Business District into a vibrant, flowering landscape full of life and beauty.

It took a great deal of effort, but with the help of our community partners and well over 100 total volunteers, we've done it.

To put these numbers into perspective, we renewed three full city blocks on bothMcKinleyDepave8 sides of McKinley Avenue. Not only does this project beautify the McKinley Business District, it has the added benefit of cleaning up our fresh and marine waters. Almost 200,000 gallons of rain water will be kept out of our stormwater system per year! This keeps out all the toxins, trash, and debris that that rain would otherwise carry down to Commencement Bay and into Puget Sound. 

Back in May, BN Builders generously donated their time and equipment to prepare the site along McKinley Avenue so that 50 volunteers could help us remove the asphalt. BN Builders' subcontractors NuTech came out and cut the asphalt into manageable chunks, removed numerous old and decaying trees, while RINO Construction took away the areas of concrete that were too heavy for volunteers to tackle. Removing 7,000sqft of pavement is no small task and contractors and volunteers alike deserve a well earned thank you for all their hard work.

Big thanks are also owed to the City of Tacoma for the generous donation of TAGRO. This home grown soil amendment was used to replace the compacted dirt below the pavement, providing a nutrient rich home for all the new plants. 

McKinleyDepave2What were some of those plants? Well there are evergreen trees such as Ponderosa Pines, Mountain Hemlock, and Dawn Redwood. We planted leafy trees such as Bur Oak and Goldenrain. For a splash of color Mike Carey, (the COT engineer who did such a wonderful job of redesigning this landscape), added California Lilac, Spanish Lavendar, Autumn Joy, Red Hot Poker, and Kinnikinnick. For accents and fragrance Mike threw in Feather Grass, Fragrant Sumac, Blue Fescue, and many others.

Together with some of the other projects we've done, the cumulative impact of our Depave program in it's first two years has been the transformation of three neighborhoods into beautiful landscapes, almost 11,000sqft of pavement removed, and over a quarter of a million gallons of polluted stormwater kept out of our streams, lakes, and Puget Sound annually.

This is only the beginning though and each year those numbers will grow. It starts with you though: nominating neighborhoods in Pierce County you know of that have too much pavement; working with us to get the community involved; and ultimately getting out there with us and getting your hands dirty pulling up that pavement and putting plants in the ground. Let's keep the momentum going!

To Nominate a Site Contact:
Melissa Buckingham
melissab@piercecountycd.org
253.845.9770 ext 109