Dawson Playfield Improvements

image of Dawson Park Preferred Schematic Design
Project Update

After gathering public input and with additional review from Pierce County Parks, Johnson+Sutherland developed the preferred Schematic Plan shown above. The Preferred Schematic Plan “amenities” include full implementation of the community’s top 3 priorities, partial implementation of a 4th priority, and options for the softball field as follows: 

  1. Perimeter path improvements – a 5’ wide asphalt path with distance markers to replace the existing informal dirt path.
  2. Playground expansion – final equipment selection to be determined but will include “big kid swings” (the existing playground has only infant swings),  and a signature spinning and/or climbing element.  
  3. Junior Hoops – playground-style bucket hoops that will provide basketball fun for the younger set without being taken over by older players. 
  4. Partial perimeter fence replacement – new 4’ high chain link fencing to improve the park’s appearance and prevent unauthorized driving into the park. 
  5. Options for removing or renovating the softball field – final refinements to be determined but likely to include a chain-link youth-style backstop.

The current schedule is for Pierce County Parks to contract with Johnson+Sutherland to complete the design for Dawson Playfield Improvements by early 2020, so the project may be bid and constructed in 2020.  

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About the Project

Dawson Playfield is a popular neighborhood park located on the corner of 90th St. and Portland Avenue in Tacoma. Current amenities at Dawson Playfield include a covered picnic shelter lighted softball field (non-regulation), outdoor basketball and tennis courts, playground equipment, restrooms, uncovered picnic tables, and a walking track

In 2017, Parks asked the public what improvements they’d like to see at Dawson Playfield. The tennis courts at Dawson Playfield were past their useful lifecycle and needed to be replaced. Drainage issues and a high groundwater level contributed to the poor condition of the courts, causing wide cracks on the playing surface.

Outreach Summary

Together with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, Parks worked to gather community input on how best to spend $150,000 to improve Dawson Plafield. Two meetings were conducted in the park, the first on July 29, 2017 to obtain ideas from the park users and the second on August 12, 2017 to vote on the proposed ideas. 

In April of 2019, Johnson & Sutherland Landscaping Architecture was hired to complete the design of the park improvements. After conducting a study of the top three options, Pierce County Parks shared those options and cost estimates at the following open houses in the summer of 2019.

In the Summer and Fall of 2019, the project team hosted two open houses to gather public input on a final design. The project team invited questions and comments following each presentation and encouraged attendees to share their feedback by commenting directly on boards around the room or completing paper surveys. Concurrently, an online open house allowed those who could not attend the Open Houses to participate.

Notable feedback from these outreach efforts suggested that for the play equipment, most participants preferred the swings, big globe climber, and double-decker spinner/climber. Participants also expressed an overwhelming preference to keep the baseball field.

Project Contact

Benjamin Barrett
Design and Construction Supervisor
253-798-4081 | email