Strategy, Imagination and Listening: Park Planning Continues at Chambers Creek

A determined mom pushing a double stroller, her ponytail swaying from side to side. A cross-country team from the local high school getting in their afternoon run. Golfers, sunburned and sore, ribbing each other over a game well-fought and an elderly couple walking hand in hand, enjoying a view that just never gets old.

SCJ landscape architects created and updated conceptual drawings for Chambers Creek Regional Park planning.

Any given moment at Chambers Creek Regional Park boasts visitors from all walks of life, and SCJ is working with Pierce County Parks and Recreation to keep that diverse visitorship happy, engaged and growing.

“Chambers Creek is so much more than a golf course,” SCJ Planning Manager Dan Penrose explained. “The golf course, Chambers Bay, is beautiful, well-run and complete. The rest of the 930-acre park is raw, well-loved, and ready for enhancement.”

SCJ planners will build upon the beauty and usability of the park through a 2017 master plan update. Early this year at a series of open houses, SCJ, the county, park users and residents came together to envision a park that will be developed over the next decades and treasured for years to come.

“Park planning takes strategy, imagination and a love of listening,” Dan said. “The Chambers Creek plan very much reflects the interests of county residents and park users by maintaining views of Puget Sound and the Olympics, expanding the trail system and improving access to the beaches.”

While the first part of the plan is an overall update of the 2007 master plan, significant attention was given to the unimproved area south of the wastewater treatment plant.

“It’s an exceptional area for park design because it’s surrounded by water on three sides,” Dan said. “So, in addition to typical park features, we can propose things like a boat launch for kayaks and canoes and an observation lookout over the Sound.”

SCJ Planning Manager Dan Penrose presented ideas for Chambers Creek Regional Park at three public meetings this year.

SCJ presented two concepts for the south area, illustrated by SCJ’s landscape architecture team. The concepts highlight both active uses, like a parkour climbing area and sand volleyball courts, and more passive ones, like a 2.5-mile network of trails, an off-leash dog park and a native plant garden.

“It’s not an A or B choice,” he explained further. “We can take an idea suggested from one and merge it with the other. We keep things dynamic and flexible in the planning stages.”

And it’s a good thing they do! The planning team received and reviewed more than 1,400 responses to the online survey they created for the update, and the landscape architecture team edited drawings after every meeting.

Hans Shepherd, a planner at SCJ who coordinated the survey and public meetings, shared, “We partnered with the Parks and Rec department to email people who had been involved in park programs and had expressed an interest in staying informed. We also grabbed a couple tablets and went into the park ourselves, asking person-to-person for their opinions.”

“It’s encouraging to have so many residents involved and invested in seeing the park succeed,” he said.

The plan, which also incorporates a proposed hotel and restaurant development, will be finalized and presented to the Pierce County Council and both Lakewood and University Place city councils when environmental review is complete in mid-2017.

“Crafting this plan has been a lot of fun,” Dan said. “Enjoying it will be even better.”

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