Community Government Health & Wellness

PenMet creating Peninsula Gardens master plan

Posted on April 23rd, 2024 By:

PenMet Parks enlisted help in determining the future of its Peninsula Gardens property.

PenMet commissioners at their April 16 meeting hired AHBL, Inc. of Tacoma to help staff and the public produce a master plan for the former nursery. The contract pays up to $139,000 for work through the end of the year, according to parks documents.

PenMet purchased three parcels totaling 10.6 acres in 2011 for an even $1 million, according to the Pierce County assessor-treasurer. The county now assesses it at $2.2 million. The land is within a “V” formed by the intersection of arterials Wollochet Drive and Fillmore Drive, a mile west of Gig Harbor city limits.

The old Peninsula Gardens nursery has sat vacant since 2011.

The old Peninsula Gardens nursery has sat idle since 2011. Photo by Ed Friedrich

The grounds house a 24,100-square-foot retail/greenhouse structure and 3,800-square-foot warehouse, according to the county. Built in 2000 and valued at $92,000, they will be removed. The property also includes a 140-car parking lot, stormwater facilities and a forested area.

The park district’s 6-year capital improvement plan for 2025 and 2026 includes $3.7 million to design and build the first phase of what AHBL comes up with once it completes the master plan.

First plan conducted in 2018

It will be the second master plan for the property. A September 2018 blueprint penciled by ARC Architects of Seattle focused on indoor recreation. The next year, PenMet bought the former Performance Golf Center site at 2416 14th Ave. NW for that purpose. It is under construction.

“If you look at the PROS (Parks, Recreation and Open Space) plan, it really was identified as the top priority of the community,” PenMet Executive Director Ally Bujacich said Friday. “Indoor recreation is now being met by the community recreation site (on 14th Avenue). That gives us the opportunity to look at this site with a fresh mind.”

The 2018 Master Plan included other amenities such as a playground, spray pad, picnic shelter, dog park and trails. PenMet will review the earlier results to discover which elements remain relevant and can be transferred. But the site needs a fresh look, Bujacich said.

A 140-car parking lot sits between Wollochet and Filmore drives.

A 140-car parking lot sits between Wollochet and Fillmore drives. Photo by Ed Friedrich

Much has occurred since 2018 in addition to the new community recreation center rising outside the district’s new office windows. Community needs shifted. The population grew. Demographics changed. More recreational facilities emerged. People adapted to a global pandemic.

Not only is Peninsula Gardens in a good spot, but it will also serve a needy area.

Underserved area

“Fortunately, we have this site that’s already been developed,” Bujacich said. “It’s a prime location. This area is not as well served as others. We want to focus on those underserved areas. It’s easily accessible. We’re very excited about it.”

Since PenMet purchased it, the site has hosted farmers markets and rummage sales, and been used for storage while the district concentrated on the community recreation center and deferred maintenance, said Bujacich, who’s been at the helm for three years.

“In that time, the focus has been on the community recreation center,” she said. “We renovated Arletta (Schoolhouse). We’re in the process of renovating Rosedale (Hall). The master plan for (Tacoma) DeMolay (Sandspit Park was completed). We’ve really leaned into our capital improvement plan to improve these assets.

Structures on the Peninsula Gardens site will be removed.

Structures on the Peninsula Gardens site will be removed. Photo by Ed Friedrich

“As we’re accomplishing all these things, now we can concentrate on Peninsula Gardens. It’s our next level of focus, an identified priority. Check it off and move on to the next one. We can’t do everything at once. We always want to make sure we have the funding when we do a master plan so it doesn’t go stale.

“I think what we accomplished the last few years is significant and now we’re excited to focus on this.”

Scope of work

Director of Park Services Sue O’Neill told the board on April 16 that AHBL’s work scope includes:

  • Project management
  • Public outreach
  • Site inventory and analysis of on-site conditions and influences from adjacent properties
  • Conceptual alternatives.

AHBL will produce a preferred design alternative that will guide future design and construction.

  • Among the tasks are:
  • Creating a public opinion survey
  • Conducting three public meetings
  • Developing up to three concept alternatives with relative costs
  • Narrowing them down to a preferred plan
  • Developing a cost estimate and recommending a phasing plan.

AHBL will also meet with PenMet staff and Pierce County to discuss frontage improvements, determine potential sports field options and review whether existing concrete foundations are suitable to reuse for hard-court sports.

Commissioners had no comments or questions about the master plan.

“Just last year we did the PROS plan (update), so we have statistically valid data,” Bujacich said. “Now we want to refine that, so public engagement is a key part to identify what belongs here in this unique location. We’re excited for the potential and what it’s going to bring to the community.”