In-district Pierce County Council meeting goes to Thornewood Castle

Thornewood Castle, the privately-owned English Tudor/Gothic mansion in Lakewood, was the setting of the final in-district meeting of the year of the Pierce County Council. Per the Pierce County Charter, each member of the council holds at least one in-district evening meeting each year to make meetings more accessible to the residents of Pierce County. This in-district meeting was led by Chair Doug Richards, representing District 6.

The bulk of meeting consisted of updates from Steilacoom Mayor Ron Lucas, DuPont Mayor Mike Courts, Lakewood Deputy Mayor Jason Whalen and Anderson Island Citizens’ Advisory Board Vice Chair Dave Jacobson.


 Lucas announced that Steilacoom has re-opened Steilacoom Boulevard through the “Tunnel of Trees,” a $3.4 million project that included a multimodal link from the east side of town to the west side of town, safe sidewalks on both sides of the road, additional designated bike lanes through this section, a resurfaced road, enhanced storm drainage and hillside-stabilizing improvements.

“We completed a long project,” Lucas said. “It took about 13 years just to plan and about eight years to get the money together.”

DuPont: “DuPont is in a growth period right now,” outgoing Mayor Courts told the council, noting that at this time next year there will be 2.1 million square feet of commercial activity opened up.

“It’s been poured. The concrete is there,” he explained. “It’s going up.”

That means more jobs and revenues for the city, he added.

Increased commercial development also means there needs to be a way to mitigate the impact of heavier traffic in and around DuPont.

Toward that end, the state’s transportation budget this year allocated $3.9 million to fully fund the expansion of DuPont-Steilacoom Road.  The project involves widening the 1.3-mile stretch of the DuPont-Steilacoom Road between the new I-5 Exit 119 and Wharf Road, which is also Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s (JBLM) Integrity Gate. It connects the busiest gate to the base with the Integrity Gate at Wharf Road and is the only route for oversized military equipment to get from Lewis Main to Lewis North sections of JBLM.


 Fort Steilacoom Park was the focus of Whalen’s remarks, noting there are plans to include historical monuments and educational signage at the 340-acre park that includes Waughop Lake, an off-leash dog park and several soccer and baseball fields.

Special lighting for the ball fields is also being looked into, he said.

Upgraded utilities and improved roads at Lakewood’s largest park appear to be paying off.
The 2019 Cyclocross National Championships will be held at Fort Steilacoom Park from
Dec. 5 through Dec. 10, Whalen noted.

Cyclocross is a form of bicycle racing. Races typically take place in the autumn and winter, and consist of many laps of a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount.

The event is expected to draw more than 2,000 participants and in excess of 10,000 spectators.

“We believe the economic impact will be dramatic for the region,” Whalen said, adding it will help to put the city of Lakewood and Pierce County on the map.

Anderson Island:

Concerns related to the island community’s growing population – some 1,300 people at the moment – were the focus of Jacobson’s remarks, noting schools were running out of room and management of vehicle lines to get on ferries is becoming more difficult.

The southernmost island in Puget Sound, Anderson Island is accessible by boat or a 20-minute ferry ride from Steilacoom.

There will be no increase next year in rates to take the ferry, Jacobson reported. There is no change to the ferry schedule for 2020, he added, but noted schedule changes could be implemented as needed next year.

“We are a small community that is completely dependent on private wealth for water, private septic systems,” he said. “Volunteers carry the load of the island. We have a link to the rest of the world across the water that quite honestly is already bumping up against its capacity.”

In other business, Bill Vetter, council senior legislative analyst, gave a presentation on affordable housing based off a study conducted by Seattle-based BERK Consulting.

“By county charter, the County Council administers a performance audit program,” Vetter explained. “Through this program, the council hires outside, independent firms to conduct studies of county agencies and make recommendations to improve the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of county government.”

The net conclusions of the report, “Pierce County Affordable Housing Incentives: Evaluations and Recommendations to Increase Effectiveness,” include strengthening existing incentives, attracting more affordable housing production, and augmenting and coordinating funding opportunities.

The report can be viewed at:

Finally, the four council members in attendance – Richardson, Dave Morell, Marty Campbell and Derek Young – unanimously passed Proposal No. R2019-160, proclaiming Dec. 14 as “Wreaths Across America Day” in Pierce County. Observed annually on a Saturday in December designated by Congress, Wreaths Across America Day is a national movement dedicated to placing wreaths on the gravesites of veterans.



Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment