It was a short honeymoon for the folks in South Tacoma. Not long after the South Tacoma Neighborhood Council was officially organized, the group took on a "David vs. Goliath" project that even the most seasoned neighborhood groups wouldn't consider tackling.
It began in 1994 when it was learned that plans were underway to sell one of Tacoma's last remaining tracts of open undeveloped land - known to many as Wapato Hills. The residents of South Tacoma decided they didn't need more shopping malls on the 80 acres parcel, what they needed was to preserve the land as open space, perhaps with a park and ball fields.
The work was daunting. Somehow they would have to raise enough money to show they were serious about their plan. Four years and nearly $2.9 million later, however, the Wapato Hills Task Force (a group comprised of neighborhood activist, City staff and representatives from Metro Parks) showed their detractors just how serious they were: the group secured enough grant money to purchase 37 of the 80 acres. To date, an additional $400,000 has been raised to be put toward the development of park on the southern 14 acres of the property.
Looking back on their accomplishments, the people of South Tacoma say one of the things that has pleased them the most is the cooperation they have received in helping them achieve their goals. "The biggest surprise has been the depth of support we receive from staff across all City departments," says Council member Skip Vaughn."
- Our stories, Our times: A Retrospective of Achievements
South Tacoma Neighborhood Council Profile
South Tacoma is located in the southwestern corner of Tacoma, which geographically serves as a drainage corridor leading south to the Chambers Creek. The early development of the Northern Pacific Railroad and rail yards created a community with industrial employment. South Tacoma contains several historical residential neighborhoods: Oakland / Madrona, South Tacoma, Lincoln Heights, Madison, Gray-Edison, Arlington, Manitou, and Orchard. Subsequent development of State Route 99 (SR 99) linked the area to Seattle and Olympia. Freeway development in the early 1970’s enabled development of large tracts of land for commercial and apartment development. South Tacoma is divided into districts for council representation and descriptions of the areas are included in the Neighborhood Action Strategy.
The Neighborhood Council believes that South Tacoma can grow to become an economically healthy and livable community with diverse opportunities for employment, housing and commercial activities with full and appropriate access to daily needs and to its bordering neighborhoods.
South Tacoma will see continued development and redevelopment with expected regional growth, especially in the three designated mixed-use centers. Capacity increases along SR 16 and I-5 will create traffic and associated market pressures for commercial, residential and industrial development.