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Since Feb. 27 there has been a fence around Tacoma's Pugnetti Park , keeping people out of the site that was home to Tacoma's Occupy

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Fence Around Tacoma's Pugnetti Park Comes Down, Long After Occupy Protesters Left

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Since Feb. 27 there has been a fence around Tacoma's Pugnetti Park, keeping people out of the site that was home to Tacoma's Occupy movement. Today, that fence comes down, after almost seven weeks and numerous discussions about the park's future.

The Occupy Tacoma movement inhabited Pugnetti Park, owned by the state Department of Transportation and named after former News Tribune editor Don Pugnetti, for over four months - peacefully vacating the location after the DOT formally issued an eviction notice in February. The decision to peacefully vacate the park was voted on by Occupy Tacoma's "General Assembly," and earned the Tacoma Occupy movement praise from leaders like Mayor Marilyn Strickland.

Occupy Tacoma lived and breathed in Pugnetti Park from Oct. 26 through Feb. 26 - setting up tents, holding regular rallies, and generally fighting for the Occupy cause with more organization and thoughtfulness than many naysayers have given the protesters credit for.

The day the Occupy Tacoma activist left Pugnetti Park a clean-up crew quickly descended, and soon after the fence went up. Since that time the park's future has been debated in T-Town, with the DOT interested in selling the land, and Tacoma's Metro Parks possibly interested in acquiring it or managing it.

Alan OldStudent, one of the most active members of Tacoma's Occupy movement, delivered this address the day before protesters vacated Pugnetti Park and the fence went up.

While the DOT has been careful to maintain a respectful tone when discussing the Occupy Tacoma movement and Pugnetti Park, today's press release announcing the removal of the fence also makes it clear where the organization stands on the prospect of future campers.

From today's press release:

The area is suitable for limited day use and was never intended for camping. Taxpayer liability became a concern for WSDOT when campers hacked into power supplies for lights on the parcel and reports of illegal activity increased. When the park reopens today, rules will be posted with park operations hours and other regulations.

Read the full DOT press release on the next page

Pugnetti Park Reopens for Public Use

Date: Friday, April 13, 2012

TACOMA - A parcel of land at the corner of Pacific Avenue and South 21st Street in downtown Tacoma, known as Pugnetti Park, reopens for public use today, April 13.

The Washington State Department of Transportation, owner of the half-acre parcel, has been working with businesses, the public and elected officials to determine the future of the property. At about 2 p.m. today, WSDOT will remove the fence that was erected Feb. 26 following a peaceful eviction of Occupy Movement campers who had been at the site since Oct. 7.

"We recognize that parks are important open spaces and contribute to healthy communities," said state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. "We're pleased we found a short-term solution that allows continued use of the park while we work with the community to develop a long-term plan for management and ownership of the parcel."

Preliminary discussions are under way with Metro Parks Tacoma about a partnership for management and/or ownership of the park. Metro Parks will conduct public hearings on the future of the park.

The park was dedicated in 1987 to civic leader Don Pugnetti and was available to the public as open space in the downtown core.

The area is suitable for limited day use and was never intended for camping. Taxpayer liability became a concern for WSDOT when campers hacked into power supplies for lights on the parcel and reports of illegal activity increased. When the park reopens today, rules will be posted with park operations hours and other regulations.

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