Pierce County Representative, David Sawyer, believes the main issues regarding Parkland are employment, crime, funding for renovation, and perhaps most of all, the need for more university involvement from the student body.
Sawyer represents the 29th District, which includes South Tacoma, Parkland, Lakewood, and Spanaway. Since his inauguration as state a representative in November, Sawyer’s motivation in Parkland is to promote new jobs and the rebuilding of particular areas, such as Garfield Street.
Sawyer believes the main the issues surrounding Parkland are not unique to any area of his district. “People are looking for work just like anybody else,” Sawyer said.
Crime is also an issue. The area Sawyer represents, particularly around Pacific Avenue, outside the Tacoma city limits, is a trouble spot. “There’s a section right along Pacific where neighbors are really upset,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer says there is a lack of policing and prosecution along that road. Safety is an issue after dark.
Renovation is another objective Sawyer is pursuing. One of the areas of renovation is the Sprinker Recreation Center, which Sawyer feels is not where it could be. “It’s at 25% of what it was plan to be,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer hopes to get funding for the renovation plans for Sprinker. Renovations include replacing the roof and other structural issues.
Despite Parkland’s bad rap for its crime and lack of funding, Sawyer takes pride in the community he represents for its diversity and zeal. “The reality is it’s got a really fierce great community,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer is also aware of university students not engaging the local community such as the case with Pacific Lutheran University’s “Lute Dome.”
The Lute Dome is a term used by the local PLU community to describe an intangible wall that exists separating the university from the outside community. The boundary promotes a feeling of security and separation between the upper middle class students and the lower income area of Parkland.
Graduating from Central Washington University, Sawyer is familiar with this issue as well. “We had this campus and then you had the city,” Sawyer said
Sawyer recalls a time when he was in Ellensburg when students would become involved in the local community and even run for office. “When you actually organize college campuses it’s incredibly powerful,” Sawyer said.
With the diverse student body that PLU has, Sawyer see’s this as a tremendous opportunity for bringing change to the Parkland community.
“I think PLU students have a ton to gain by being involved in local community,” Sawyer said.
One of the reasons behind students not engaging the surrounding community is the fact that students are not usually from the areas they go to school. Whether students commute or live on campus they are often from many different places. It’s difficult for these students to call Parkland their home and often go to other places when they graduate.
Sawyer encourages students to stay within the local community after they graduate because of the opportunities it offers in helping the near by community. There shouldn’t be tension between the PLU students and the Parkland community.
“They don’t have to be contradictory but complementary,” Sawyer said. “Students should be doing as much of a community as anybody else that lives there.”