Melanie Dressel’s career was entwined with Tacoma-based Columbia Bank for more than 20 years.
In 1993, she was one of the bank’s founding members. Seven years later, she was named the bank’s president and CEO. American Banker magazine recognized her as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking seven times, and community banker of the year in 2011. The University of Washington Tacoma’s Milgard School of Business honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.
Beyond the business world, Dressel served on the boards of more than a half-dozen community organizations, including Bellarmine Preparatory School, Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation, Tacoma Art Museum, and the Washington State Historical Society.
Now, a movement is under way to name a future park, located on property along Thea Foss Waterway in downtown Tacoma, after Dressel, who died on February 19, 2017, at age 64.
According to an application prepared by the Foss Waterway Development Authority (FWDA), the .75-acre park site at 1147 Dock Street, between the Murray Morgan Bridge and the 15th Street Bridge, will be developed into a children’s park and completed in 2020.
FWDA owns the property, according to the application, and has received letters of support from Carino & Associates, the property managers for The Henry and Thea’s Landing apartment buildings along Dock Street; Children’s Museum of Tacoma; Executive Council for a Greater Tacoma; Foss Waterway Seaport; Metro Parks Tacoma; Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber; and the United Way of Pierce County.
The nomination is still subject to public hearings, as well as approval by Tacoma’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and City Council. If it is approved, however, the park would be formally named Melanie Jan LaPlant Dressel Park and include commemorative signage highlighting Dressel’s career and community service.