I’m one of those people who thinks that we can be more productive when we partner and work together to get things done, even in government. For a number of years Pierce County, University Place and Lakewood have had a Master Plan for the Chambers Creek properties. We are going through a public process right now to plan for the next ten years. This has involved a number of meetings with jurisdiction staff as well as a number of public meetings. Together all of us will work to accomplish the vision of tomorrow for this jewel in our communities.
The three jurisdictions are also working together to complete the trail system in Chambers Creek Properties from the existing golf course and park area, around the treatment facility and up Chambers Creek Canyon. This is an interlocal agreement with joint funding and planning. Results; another shining jewel in the making.
Another example of partnership is in the area of social services. I have reported in previous columns about our homeless problem. This crosses all age groups including young adults. The City of Tacoma and Pierce County have pooled resources to develop an approach to address this population. It will include a young adult shelter and drop in center for 18-24 year olds, and a Crisis Residential Center for youth 12-17, for those children who are out of their homes and need immediate care until DSHS can find more permanent homes for them. Both the city and county saw a growing need for both of these populations and stepped up to work together to get it done.
The Mayor of Tacoma, Marilyn Strickland, has brought together the mayors of a number of cities plus some county council members to work on homelessness. Together we have been working on legislation that will help fund programs that all of us can benefit from in our communities to help house those without homes. I believe that we will continue to emphasize the importance of the cross jurisdictional approaches so we are not just moving the homeless from one community to the next. This will undoubtedly take a lot of time so more to come on this.
All governments are concerned about and involved in some capacity with public health. The responsibility of public health usually lies within the jurisdiction of a county. Once again our government leaders felt that our residents would be better served by joint efforts. A number of years ago Tacoma and Pierce County joined forces to jointly fund the health department calling it Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD). TPCHD is overseen by a Board of Directors. The Board is made up of city council and county council members plus the county executive. The TPCHD works and serves all of Pierce County there is a representative from the cities and towns organization as well as a doctor appointed by the Medical Society to bring a medical perspective to our work at the board level.
In the early 2000’s Tacoma decided to build a downtown convention center. It was decided to make it a regional convention center. Two reasons rose to the top of that decision. One, it would draw conventions from outside our area and require the use of hotels in our various communities. Two, conventioneers (tourists) would be attracted to our local communities assets; restaurants, parks, theaters, museums, etc. We formed a Public Facilities District (PFD) made up by the cities of Tacoma, Fife, Lakewood, University Place and Pierce County. This designation enables us to rebate part of the state sales tax back to the PFD to pay the bonds for the Center. The PFD has a board with representatives from each of those jurisdictions to review the budget and operational reports and relay the information back to our councils.
These are just a few examples of how we are working together. I have a favorite saying that I use from someone I highly respect. “Apart we are smart but together we are brilliant.” I don’t know if we are quite brilliant but we are trying to get there. There is an additional ending to that saying,”…and life is good!” That is the ultimate end that we are trying to achieve for those that we serve.