The Tacoma Waterfront Association began in April 2006 when a group of concerned citizens met for lunch to discuss ways to make the Foss Waterway more user-friendly for visiting boaters. That early group included representatives from the six marinas on the Foss Waterway, the Foss Waterway Development Authority, the Youth Marine Foundation, the Foss Waterway Seaport and local activist Stan Selden.
The early focus of TWA was on Tacoma’s Foss Waterway. This waterway is unique in that no one entity has overall authority over it; there are many different property owners, marinas and other businesses along its shoreline. Therefore there was a need for an organization representing all groups to further communication and mutually beneficial activities; and TWA was created to fill that need.
From that modest goal, TWA has grown to represent more than 100 businesses, non-profit groups and citizens from Brown’s Point to Point Defiance all interested in preserving, promoting and improving Tacoma’s unique waterfront.
As the organization grew, TWA became more inclusive of all waterfront issues and expanded its reach beyond the Foss Waterway. TWA became an official non-profit organization, and in 2010 it became a 501(c) 4 organization.
TWA’s popular monthly meetings are held at the Youth Marine Center. Guest speakers inform the group about a variety of topics and concerns affecting the waterfront and promote local businesses and events.
In April 2010, TWA hosted the first Schooner Rendezvous in conjunction with the newly formed Pacific Northwest Schooner Association that brought more than 10 Northwest schooners to Tacoma.
In the summer of 2010, TWA hired a part-time executive director to help guide the group and expand its base. Currently, TWA is working on more than 10 initiatives to help promote Tacoma’s waterfront. It has also lent its support to waterfront festivals including the 2013 inaugural T-Town Sailing Championship and the 2013 Maritime Festival.
Since being formed, TWA has grown into an organization that is “dedicated to getting things done.” It has one overriding focus: To improve the access and viability of Tacoma’s waterfront for tourists and citizens alike.