PenMet Parks Park Host Program Frequently Asked Questions

The following frequently asked questions are intended to provide the public with information
about the park host program. Please email if you have any questions
about this information.

  1. Which PenMet Parks properties currently have park hosts?

    Currently, volunteer park hosts are at three PenMet Parks’ properties: Fox Island Fishing Pier, Peninsula Gardens, and the DeMolay Sandspit. There was a park host at Sehmel Homestead Park, but that was discontinued several years ago after a camera surveillance system was installed at that property.

  2. When will the park host program end?

    The program will sunset on October 1, 2021. Prior to that date, PenMet Parks will develop and implement a plan to maintain or enhance the level of service provided to the public at those locations.

  3. Why didn’t the Board of Park Commissioners vote at a public meeting on whether or not to sunset the park host program?

    The park host program was developed administratively and for that reason the decision to sunset the program was done administratively.

  4. What activities do park hosts conduct at Fox Island Fishing Pier, Peninsula Gardens, and the DeMolay Sandspit?

    When they are on site, park hosts are expected to perform limited activities such as opening park gates at 7 a.m. and closing gates at dusk. Park hosts also may perform other tasks to assist with operations, such as litter patrol and light cleaning of the restrooms at the Fox Island Fishing Pier and Peninsula Gardens, however Pen Met Parks staff are responsible for custodial duties. Park hosts do not maintain a constant site presence – they may have full time jobs conducted off‐site, take vacations and have the routine events that take them away from the parks. Park hosts are not responsible for and do not perform landscape or maintenance tasks. Park hosts do not enforce park regulations or prevent prohibited activities. Park hosts are not security guards.

  5. How are park hosts selected?

    When the District began offering park host opportunities, it solicited applications from the public and generally a park host volunteered for a limited duration, usually a period of several months or less. Regularly rotating park hosts and an open application process ensured the program was accessible to anyone wishing to participate. Current park hosts have remained at their locations for a number of years, which effectively removed the park host opportunities for other members of the public.

  6. How much do park hosts pay to camp on public land? How much are they paid for the services they provide?

    Park hosts do not pay to camp on public land. The District provides to the park hosts all of their utilities, including power, water, septic, high speed internet and cable television.

  7. Wouldn’t the program provide more public benefit if park hosts paid market rate rent for their camp sites?

    If the program were to continue, an open public application process with reasonable limits of stay would need to be re‐integrated to provide the public with equitable access to apply and serve as a park host. Managing the application process and program would create some administrative burden, the cost of which could potentially be offset by charging market‐rate rent. However, private citizens occupying public land for any length of time impacts the community’s ability to enjoy full access to these properties. PenMet Parks staff would still be required to perform the duties and responsibilities necessary to maintain and operate the properties. A campsite rental program is not currently being considered and would require more evaluation.

  8. Why is the program ending?

    PenMet Parks continually adapts to meet the needs of the changing population it serves. The District is accountable to its citizens for its use of public property and public dollars, and thus continually evaluates programs and services to ensure its limited park, recreation and financial resources are used wisely. PenMet Parks recently reviewed a number of its programs, including the park host program, and determined it is no longer the most effective method to assist with operating those District assets. In recent years we have experienced property damage, safety concerns, management issues, and unauthorized storage of personal property at properties with park hosts. Some of the park hosts’ decisions and interaction with the public have not met PenMet Parks’ expectations for customer service. Park hosts alone are not satisfactorily addressing property management concerns such as inconsistent closing times, parking management, off‐leash dogs, removal of items from beaches, violations of park regulations, trespassing, overflowing trash cans, and other similar issues. An increased staff presence will maintain or enhance the level of service provided to all community members.

  9. Won’t it cost taxpayers more if the park host program sunsets?

    PenMet Parks employees will need to be paid to open and close the gates. When the park host program concludes, PenMet Parks staff will be fairly compensated for performing opening and closing duties at Fox Island Fishing Pier and the DeMolay Sandspit (Peninsula Gardens is presently vacant and gates are only opened upon request). Although the District will now incur a cost to have an employee open and close the gates, that employee will have the added responsibility of inspecting the park to determine if there are any conditions that require attention, including maintenance and repair issues, but importantly also any public safety issues. The park hosts do not perform those inspections and are neither trained nor qualified to do so. During a recent inspection, we discovered pest infestations, safety issues, and property damage at several of the properties despite the presence of the park hosts. These problems become very costly to later repair or remedy during which time they present an added risk to the public. Going forward, the employee can identify these issues and perform or contract for the performance of any work necessary to correct the problem or make the park safe. PenMet Parks employees are responsible for operating and maintaining properties consistently across the District’s comprehensive park system. The increased oversight resulting from professional staff visiting each property daily will maintain or enhance the level of service provided to the public. Employees can professionally address maintenance, safety, and other property issues to avoid costly repairs. Professional staff are trained to provide customer service and to make decisions that reduce the risk of liability for the District. The savings realized by these measures, as well as park host utility cost savings, outweigh the anticipated increase in staff costs.

  10. How will the properties be operated and maintained after the program sunsets?

    PenMet Parks staff and contractors currently perform landscape, grounds, most custodial, and maintenance work at all District properties. That practice will continue after the park host program sunsets. The level of service provided at Fox Island Fishing Pier, Peninsula Gardens, and the DeMolay Sandspit will be maintained or enhanced as the park host program ends. PenMet Parks staff will perform opening and closing duties, and their increased presence at each property will allow more efficient and effective completion of professional maintenance and operation duties. PenMet Parks is providing a full‐time person on site at the DeMolay Sandspit through Labor Day 2021 to educate visitors on park regulations and mitigate issues that are occurring despite the presence of a park host, such as parking, trespassing, off‐leash dogs, removing items from the beach, litter pick up, and other similar actions.

  11. How will security be handled after the program sunsets?

    The vast majority of PenMet properties do not have on site park hosts. Most properties are ungated. PenMet Parks has implemented appropriate security measures at each of its properties to provide a safe user environment and to discourage property theft or destruction. Just like the rest of the properties in our comprehensive park system, we will take appropriate actions to ensure Fox Island Fishing Pier, Peninsula Gardens, and the DeMolay Sandspit each continue to have security measures in place. Consistent with current operations, Fox Island Fishing Pier, Peninsula Gardens, and the DeMolay Sandspit will all remain gated and closed outside of normal park hours from 7 a.m. to dusk. To further enhance security at those properties, PenMet Parks is installing security surveillance cameras. As always, PenMet Parks encourages everyone to contact the appropriate government agency in the case of an emergency.

  12. What do I do if there is an emergency, violation of park regulations, or some other

    If you see something, say something. All visitors are encouraged to contact the appropriate government agency in case of an emergency or other situation at any PenMet Parks property.

    PenMet Park regulations apply to all visitors and activities. PenMet Parks staff are trained to educate visitors on park regulations, but they are not law enforcement. Below are the relevant emergency contact numbers:

    – Fire or police emergency: 911
    – Non‐emergent violation of park regulation or other non‐emergency ‐ Pierce County Sheriff’s Department: 253‐287‐4455
    – Illegal poaching – Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: 877‐933‐9847
    – PenMet Parks: 253‐858‐3400

  13. What do I do if there is an issue at a property after the program sunsets?

    Please contact PenMet Parks at 253‐858‐3400. We are committed to enhancing the quality of life by providing parks and recreation opportunities for our community, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Heat Advisory & Summer Camp Update

PenMet Parks is highly committed to the safety and well-being of program participants

Summer Camps taking place Monday, June 28th, will end at noon due to excessive temperatures. (Except for Snapology Camps)

For questions or more information, please contact: 253-858-3400 or email

When outside temperatures are very high, the danger for heat-related illness rises.

Tips to help you and your family stay safe

Keep Cool:

Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.
Dress in lightweight clothing.
Check on your elderly neighbors and relatives, and encourage them to keep cool and hydrated.

Drink liquids:

Drink plenty of water.
Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and lots of sugar—they actually dehydrate you.
Keep water with you whenever possible, and sip or drink frequently.
Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

If you go outside:

Limit the time you’re in direct sunlight.
Do not leave infants, children, people with mobility challenges and pets in a parked car.
Limit activities that are tiring, or that take a lot of energy.
Do outdoor activities in the cooler morning and evening hours.
Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating.

PenMet Parks partners with Pierce County to offer “Kids Need to Play!” program

    The Peninsula Metropolitan Park District (PenMet Parks) looks forward to the opportunity to partner with Pierce County on a new program called “Kids Need to Play!”. Pierce County was the recipient of federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and decided to allocate some of this funding to provide discounts for kids’ summer camps and programs throughout Pierce County. Several public and private recreation providers are collaborating on the initiative to bring kids accessible opportunities to learn, create, explore, and play.

    Beginning June 3rd, all PenMet Parks participants can expect a 70% discount on fees relative to select youth programs, including camps, classes, and activities running June 28th – September 3rd, 2021. Participants that registered for eligible summer programs prior to June 3rd will also enjoy the discounted rate.

    “This is an exciting opportunity for our District,” said Park Board President Amanda Babich. “Our mission is to enhance the quality of life by providing parks and recreation opportunities for our community. This program helps to provide our constituents with broad access to high-quality recreational programs, while supporting our vision to craft partnerships.”

    While remaining safety-conscious, camps and programs for pre-school (ages 3-4) and school-age kids (ages 5-18) will be deeply discounted at 70% off thanks to the Kids Need to Play Program. Starting June3rd, “Kids Need to Play!” discounts will automatically be reflected in the program fee at the time of registration, with no need for a coupon or discount code. PenMet Parks will be closing online and phone registrations on June 2nd to update youth program listings on our registration website and to issue a 70% credit for participants who have already registered for a youth camp or program running June 28th-September 3rd. Participants already registered for a youth summer program do not need to take any action to receive the credit on their PenMet Parks ActiveNet account.

    Executive Director Ally Bujacich adds, “We are always seeking new ways for our friends and families to learn, create, explore, and play with PenMet Parks. Thanks to Pierce County, PenMet Parks will provide the same high-quality programs our community has come to know and love at a discounted rate.”

    For more information on the Kids Need Play program, please email

    Sunrise Beach Dr. NW repairs start May 3rd

    Pierce County will repair a section of the Sunrise Beach Dr. NW shoulder starting May 3. The 80-foot-long work area starts about 400 feet north of the Sunrise Beach Park entrance. The work will take about five days.

    Expect minor delays, drive slowly, and use caution in the area. Expect to see heavy equipment and work trucks backing up along the road and using the park entrance to turn around. Learn more at

    PenMet Parks Updates Safe Start Guidelines for Sports

    PenMet Parks (PMPD) aims to provide a safe and healthy sports program in accordance with state and federal law. PMPD will implement and comply with the following COVID-19 worksite specific safety practices in addition to our regular health and safety practices to keep our athletes, coaches, families, and staff safe during this season. The PMPD Covid-19 Health Policies have been guided by CDC Guidance for Youth Sports Programs and the Washington State Department of Health general guidance for youth sports.

    Please review our safe start guidelines here.

    Inclement Weather Advisory: Parks Closed to Vehicular Traffic

    Parks are currently closed to vehicular traffic due to snow. View the current weather forecast from National Weather Service and see below for additional resources and snow safety tips. The safety of participants is a priority when determining if programs should be canceled due to inclement weather. Please check our News & Announcements page for updates.

    • Be cautious of any new hazards and risks. The park terrain may look different after a severe weather event has occurred.
    • Be careful of your surroundings as rocks may be slippery and trees may have fallen.
    • Do not go near downed power lines, avoid areas of flooding, mudslides, and washed-out roads.
    • In an emergency, call 9-1-1. If there are any injuries or an emergency situation, call 9-1-1.

    For questions or to report downed trees or other hazards, please email