The new Ruston and Tacoma waterfront is shaping up to be a boat friendly highlight of South Puget Sound thanks to public investment, private development, and the activity lineup of the long-established Tacoma Yacht Club. The major makeover, which we first wrote about back in March 2017, seeks to completely transform the Point Ruston area. While progress has been slower than anticipated, it looks like this summer should finally see the amenities opened to the public. Thanks to boat friendly docking options at the Point Defiance public boat launch and Anthony’s Restaurant at Point Defiance right in the middle of it all, this should be a refreshed bright spot for boaters and the general public.
The $60-million investment project from Tacoma Metro Park and the EPA is nearing completion on the point itself, converting the 11-acre barren ASARCO Superfund slag dump into a grassy waterfront complete with groves of trees, walking/biking trails, and even an amphitheater. I visited the location late February (2019), and while still fenced off due to construction, it was already green and inviting. On February 12, the Park Board approved the name to Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park in honor of local sci-fi author Frank Herbert, who wrote the Dune series. The trial on-site is also being named the Frank Herbert Trail. Clearly, the spice must flow.
An innovative public art piece by artist Adam Kuby has also been commissioned for the park. Called Alluvion, the signature piece is a series of deconstructed smokestacks, both an homage to the area’s industrial heritage and indictment of the past’s treatment of the environment.
Also notable the planned expanded parking for the boat ramp and the new trail connection for pedestrians and bicyclists to and from Point Defiance Park (with zoo, viewpoints, and Fort Nisqually) and downtown Tacoma. Hopefully these improvements will be open and ready for use this summer as well.
In addition to these impressive public works, the private sector is staying busy. The Point Ruston development area southward is virtually booming with new businesses aimed at visitors, including a six-story Silver Cloud hotel under construction. A slew of new bars, restaurants, a movie theater, and more are a short walk down the trail.
Tacoma Yacht Club, tucked in a premium spot at the tip of the Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park, is also leading the revitalization of the area with an active lineup of events. March 24 is their annual public Open House from 1400 to 1600 hours, featuring samples from their excellent head chef. April 14 is their storied Daffodil Boat Parade that travels along the Ruston Waterway, a must-experience, flower-themed, pre-Opening Day celebration. The club is even throwing a car and motorcycle show with marine swap meet on June 15 that’s open to all. If you have any questions about getting involved in the fun, simply reach out to Marsha Baker, the Tacoma Yacht Club Membership Chair, at (253) 653-3118.
Keep your eye on this area and check it out this summer if you get the chance. A revitalized waterfront is the gem of a community. We show our support for such efforts whenever we decide to visit, participate, and support local economies with our dollars. Way to turn it around, Tacoma and Ruston!