Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tollefson Plaza Management Contract Nearly Done

A licensing agreement between the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and the City of Tacoma to create a pro-active management entity for Tacoma's central public square is nearly complete--so much so that details were shared yesterday with members of the Tacoma City Council's Government Performance & Finance Committee.

As presented to city leaders--and yet to be approved by either party--the proposed license would have the following provisions:
  • The license allows the Chamber to be the “primary manager” of the Plaza, based on recommendations made in 2006 by the consulting organization, Project for Public Spaces, and also on Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square;
  • The Chamber intends to develop a schedule of ongoing activities in the Plaza to promote more foot traffic and increase the visibility of the Plaza for community uses, and will be programming the Plaza, managing relationships with public and private sector partnerships and marketing the Plaza to the public;
  • The City, including the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center, retains the right to program the Plaza for events, and the Chamber also must allow use of the space for constitutionally protected activities;
  • The full-time City events coordinator that will oversee the event permitting process will be expected to coordinate with the Chamber on use of the Plaza;
  • The City will not pay a fee for the Chamber to manage the Plaza, nor will the Chamber pay the City a fee to use the Plaza--the Chamber’s services will be funded through fees, sponsorships, and other fundraising;
  • The agreement will be for a two-year term with two renewal periods allowed for a total of six years.


  1. Trees, shade, and a seating area are needed to draw people to this poorly designed plaza. If there are no trees, shade, and cover from the rain, and seating people will only go here for big events. Not the idea situation for a 'open space' (hopefully not a dead zone as it has been) in the heart of our city.

  2. Food vendors should be allowed in the plaza (at least in the summer) -- the upper area has room for several, plus some outdoor tables.

  3. Nice work Paul. Let's see what Tacoma can make of it.

  4. Anonymous11:02 PM

    Finally! I'm looking forward to something - anything - happening in Tollefson Plaza. Thanks for your persistence Paul.

    This plaza should never have been built without a program plan in place, in my opinion.

  5. When Tacoma skateboarders met with the BIA security committee regarding Tollefson Square last year, they brought design and program solutions for embracing this type of activity at the underused space.

    Project for Public Spaces hosted a charrette where many participants indicated a need and desire to see this type of healthy activity encouraged. Those conclusions are documented in the PPS summary.

    The final result of this encouragement and partnership with the community was to install the largest "NO SKATEBOARDING" sign found anywhere in the Puget Sound area. Some Tacoma skateboarders call this empty pink space the "No Skateboarding Plaza."

    Maybe this transition of management would be a good opportunity to revisit the possibilities of allowing those people access who want to use the space right now.

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  7. Not really sure why the Chamber is going to be the manager of the Plaza? Given their limited resources wouldn't their energy be better spent focusing on regional and national efforts? Does the Chamber manage any other local events? It seems that this would be better off in the hands of a organization who manages events on a regular basis such as the City or Metro Parks.