Home Community Annual Check In: Ruston Point

Annual Check In: Ruston Point

by Eva Seelye

$1 Billion to Boat Friendly Tacoma Development Nears Completion


Tacoma Yacht Club (TYC) lies in the center of a massive construction project to revamp the Ruston Point area of Tacoma’s waterfront as part of a larger $1 billion Point Defiance Park project. The peninsula’s $60 million plan, that began construction in 2015, has less than a year until completion. What was once a Superfund site and home to Asarco Lead and Copper Smelter will be a green landscape full of entertainment and activities.

Atkinson Construction, accompanied by subcontractor KLB Construction, is converting this once contaminated area into an extensive 23-acre hillside waterfront park during phase one of construction. When complete, the peninsula attraction will boast a plaza pavilion, a gatehouse building, a storage building, site lighting, and other amenities and furnishings surrounded by landscaped terrain that will trap contaminated soils to protect Puget Sound waters. Atkinson is known for their work on I-90 along Snoqualmie Pass East and other transportation infrastructure projects up and down the West Coast.

The soil nail wall above one of TYC’s parking lots was installed last February, making final trail grading possible. There’s also a 600’ pedestrian bridge linking Ruston Way Path with Point Defiance Park for better park access. Now walkers, runners, and bicyclists can meander from downtown Tacoma along Puget Sound, passing restaurants, breweries, picnic areas, an old fireboat, and many more attractions on their way to TYC or onward to Point Defiance and its newly renovated zoo (another aspect of the construction project). Up, but not quite open to the public, the new pedestrian bridge can be seen from the top floor of TYC, with a view of the ferry starboard. Boaters can also enjoy improved access to existing boathouse gangways with a new boat-trailer parking lot.

Following the newly paved pathway through the debris and early landscape design of the peninsula’s park, the beginnings of three amphitheaters appear – the future site of public events, concerts, and other festivities.

Tacoma Yacht Club’s Commodore Jim Martinek recalls his initial thoughts on the clean-up project, entertaining the idea of a new landscape venue representing the TYC.

“To say we are ready for the construction to be completed is an understatement,” Jim remarks. Despite the mess, grass has begun to grow where it hadn’t before, encouraging the return of local fauna. “The building now looks like it belongs to the surrounding area,” says Jim, as he snaps a quick photo of the bald eagle named “Starboard” perched on the club’s flag pole.


TYC organized in 1889, just weeks before Washington became the 42nd state, beginning the club house’s long history of accomplishments, setbacks, and revivals. Through economic disaster, relocation, automobile incorporation that drew business away from water recreation, an exploding yacht, and even a blizzard, TYC remained open, active, and thriving. The club sees improvements every year with the most recent, of course, being the long-anticipated EPA peninsula
remediation project. After completion of the club house in 1971, it took many years until the site could be capped and then cleaned.

The park will see its tail end of construction towards the end of summer, but that’s not stopping TYC’s long list of exciting spring and summer activities! Locals and visitors alike can head down to the tip of Ruston Point for fun, including live music Friday and Saturday nights, test their knowledge on trivia night, indulge in a delicious meal, or spend the day lost in the view of the Olympic Mountains across the Sound on a clear day.

Check out the TYC at their open house on March 26 at 1400 hours, sign up for the spring Cruise to Poulsbo, or check out their biggest event of the year: The Daffodil Marine Festival and Parade! Over 175 boats from Everett to Olympia gather every year at TYC for opening day of boating in one of the premier boating events in the Puget Sound. Boats decorated head to toe showcase the character and leadership of their club. The weekend-long celebration will take over Ruston Point regardless of final construction activities on April 13, 14, and 15. We’ll see ya there!

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