Public Parks Located Within the Summit-Waller Community
There are two regional, public parks located within the Summit-Waller Community: Swan Creek Park [Map], and Orangegate Park [Map]. There are also several small neighborhood parks located within the community, such as Lidford Playfield [Map].
Swan Creek Park
Location of Swan Creek Park: [Map] Swan Creek Park extends south from Pioneer Way E. to 64th Street and provides a large, greenbelt buffer between the Summit-Waller Community and the City of Tacoma. The William and Mary Haire Wildlife Area is located north of Pioneer Way E. and, together with Swan Creek Park, comprise approximately 450 acres.
History of Swan Creek: The citizens of Summit-Waller fought hard to establish Swan Creek Park. During 1960, the City of Tacoma proposed to use Swan Creek Canyon as a 40 year sanitary landfill or garbage dump. Summit-Waller citizens worked with local and national organizations and public officials to thwart the City’s garbage dump proposal. Rallies, pickets, and car caravans were organized and carried out. The Haire family began purchasing canyon land to counter any effort by the City to fill the creek canyon with garbage. The Waller Road District Improvement Club, headed by William Haire, out-bid the City of Tacoma’s effort to purchase the canyon and upland area from the owner, the Federal Government. Ultimately, the citizens of the City of Tacoma voted to purchase the property to use as a public park, rather than as a garbage dump. All this was done before the era of environmental laws. Today, Swan Creek Park is an important public asset and has attracted strong public support for over half a century.
Purpose of Swan Creek Park: The majority of Swan Creek Park is owned by Metro Parks of Tacoma with the remaining wildlife area owned by Pierce County, the City of Tacoma, and the Port of Tacoma as an environmental mitigation area. The use of Swan Creek Park is governed by a Master Plan administered by Metro Parks and requires Swan Creek Park to be used for passive recreational activities. Public use of the canyon area is limited to hiking and outdoor classroom activities. The upland area is devoted primarily to hiking, biking, wheel chair activities, a large dog run, and a community garden. For more information about Swan Creek Park visit the Metro Parks website at https://www.metroparkstacoma.org/place/swan-creek-park.
Description: Orangegate Park is owned by Pierce County and managed by Pierce County Parks & Recreation with the help from a small group of dedicated volunteer caretakers from the Summit-Waller Community Association. It is an open-space, mostly wooded, 160 acre parcel of land that offer citizens with limited recreational uses as outlined by park rules and regulations governed by Title 14.08 of the Pierce County Code. Horse riders, walkers with leashed animals, hikers, joggers, bird watchers and mountain bikers are always welcome within the park boundaries. No motorized vehicles of any kind, alcohol consumption, littering, garbage dumping, overnight camping, camp fires, tree cutting, fireworks, discharging of firearms, air rifle or paintball activities are permitted in the park. Park use is limited to daylight hours only.
Location of Orangegate Park: [Map] The Park is centrally located in the middle of the Summit-Waller Community west of Canyon Rd E and east of Vickery Ave E. 84th St E dissects the park as well as Pipeline Road. Tacoma Power’s Cowlitz Substation is just to the west of the park. The most popular entry point to the park is at the corner of 84th St E & 46th Ave E.
History of Orangegate Park: Orangegate Park is called Orangegate because it was traditionally entered through an orange gate when it was owned by the State Department of Natural Resources(DNR). During the 1980’s, the DNR declared the 160 acre area surplus and offered it for sale. The property was soon proposed to become a 160 acre trailer court. The Summit-Waller Community strongly opposed this proposal and set out to insure that the property would remain in public ownership. During that time, SWCA members Larry Volland, Dennis Young, Dan Haire, and others met with officials from DNR and Pierce County. Ultimately, Pierce County was able to purchase the 160 acres for approximately one million dollars which was a bargain even in that day.
Purpose of Orangegate Park: Orangegate Park is owned and administered by Pierce County Parks and which has formulated a master plan for the area. The park is currently designed to offer compatible, recreational activities appropriate to the surrounding community for uses that are not readily available in the greater Tacoma area. Since the park is not currently an official park, the master plan is not included on the Pierce County Parks website. Citizens can inquire about the Orangegate property’s master plan by calling Pierce County Parks & Recreation Services at: (253) 798-4177 Monday-Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.