Fight to save Tacoma park after Occupy movement moved in



Posted on March 24, 2012 at 5:41 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 24 at 6:00 PM

TACOMA, Wash. - For Carl Applebaum, the view of Pugnetti Park adds to the rich sounds of his violin shop.

"The daffodils are finally blooming again. Look at the trees. Look at the mountain behind," said Applebaum.

The view was much different this past winter when, for nearly four months, protestors with Occupy Tacoma took over.

The Washington Department of Transportation realized it had a liability problem on its hands. If someone were to be injured or if a crime were committed at the park, the state could be held responsible. It closed the park, putting a gate around it until it could come up with a better solution.

The state is now trying to sell it and has reached out to the City of Tacoma, the University of Washington-Tacoma and the Washington Historical Museum.

"It is a big part of our downtown experience," said hair salon shop owner Aura Mae. "We'd be heartbroken to lose it."

The park was built as part of the Interstate 705 project. It is named after Donald Pugnetti. He was a journalist for the Tacoma News Tribune, was instrumental in coming up with the idea for the Tacoma Dome and was the idea man behind the "Tacoma Spur," the 705 exit into downtown Tacoma where the park was built.

"I felt wounded quite frankly," said Pugnetti's son, Jerry. He believes taking the park away would be taking away a chunk of Tacoma's history. "It means everything to me for that park to stay as it is."

A petition is now under way, pushing for the title of the park to be given to the City of Tacoma. It's what Jerry and those who enjoy the space are hoping for.

"It makes a very beautiful entrance to downtown," said Applebaum. "It would be nice if it stayed."