Federal Way moves ahead on parks and recreation | Goals include playgrounds, Sacajawea Park, disc golf

Steel Lake Park, located at 2410 S. 312th St., is one of a handful of parks that could get new playground equipment this year. Playground replacements are listed on the Parks and Recreation Commission’s 2011 work plan. - Jacinda Howard/The Mirror
Steel Lake Park, located at 2410 S. 312th St., is one of a handful of parks that could get new playground equipment this year. Playground replacements are listed on the Parks and Recreation Commission’s 2011 work plan.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

Federal Way is moving forward on several parks and recreation projects in 2011.

On Tuesday, the city council approved the Parks and Recreation Commission’s 2011 work plan. The commission is a group of residents who advise the city council and staff on matters pertaining to Federal Way’s parks and recreational areas.

The group’s 2011 goals are to print a park and trail map, consider future recreational development near Panther Lake Elementary, evaluate a proposed disc golf course, replace annual playground equipment, make recommendations on field improvements at Sacajawea Park, organize volunteer projects and review Laurelwood Park. The projects will be completed depending on funding.

Disc golf

At the urging of Tom Bontempo, owner of Mando’s Disc Golf Pro Shop in Auburn, the parks commission will evaluate and identify potential locations for a disc golf course. The course would be the first within Federal Way boundaries. It could bring visitors from outside the city.

Bontempo said Auburn’s course brings 200 people on weekdays and 300 or more on the weekends. Tournaments see 150 people or more. Given the demand for the sport in Auburn, Bontempo thought it would be beneficial to introduce disc golf to Federal Way.

“We wanted to be able to expand the sport and put another course in because the demand was so high,” he said. “We thought opening another course might help to meet the need that was out there.”

Federal Way makes a good location because there are plenty of wooded areas and elevation, both needed for a disc golf course, Bontempo said. The course could bring sales and hotel revenues to the city, he said.

“(Players) will be coming in like crazy,” he said.

The parks commission will look at what’s included in a course and how much it would cost the city to create and maintain a course.

Park and trail map

The park and trail guide should be available early this year. It will list the names, locations and features of the city’s 34 parks, trails and recreational facilities. The project was created with direction from the Parks and Recreation Commission.

The guide will indicate whether a given recreational area features walking trails, wheelchair access, parking, restrooms, picnic areas or off-leash/natural play areas for dogs, for example. The commission has talked about creating a map since the early 1990s.

Panther Lake

The commission will review a study produced by Huitt-Zollars that reports on the current conditions, recreational opportunities, development constraints and permit considerations for potential development near Panther Lake Elementary. The study also explored how a parcel of land could be used to develop a trail link between the West Hylebos Wetlands and the BPA Trail at a future date.


Each year, the commission picks a few parks to receive new playground equipment. The decision takes into account the length of time since the last replacement, the ages of children using the toys, and the effects the playground’s setting could have on equipment. The commission will replace equipment at two or three parks this year, parks and facilities manager Steve Ikerd said. Adelaide, Mirror Lake, the west side of Olympic View and Steel Lake parks are up for consideration.

Sacajawea Park

The parks commission will weigh in on improvements at Sacajawea Park. The park features a synthetic turf soccer field that was installed in late 1999 and is used by seven soccer organizations and a football organization. This represents at least 6,000 sports players and several hundred teams, Ikerd said.

The field has not held up as expected and experiences drainage problems. Field replacement and drainage improvements are proposed.

The field is nice to have, but its soggy state is problematic at times, said Perry Woodford, Federal Way Soccer Association president. The field seems to be getting harder and Woodford has witnessed soccer balls skim out of control across the turf during rainy, windy weather, he said.

“It is the only turf field that I know of that we have to close when it rains hard,” Woodford said. “We’ve actually stopped games and canceled practice.”

The association includes more than 60 teams that use several Federal Way fields. Woodward said the whole park has historically experienced drainage issues.

The association is grateful to have access to the field, but prefers to play elsewhere.

“We’ve avoided scheduling games there,” Woodward said. “We try to use the fields we know we won’t have a problem with.”

Volunteer events

The Parks and Recreation Commission will organize an Earth Day volunteer event in April. Pruning, tree planting and invasive species removal, among other projects, are planned at eight park locations. Volunteers are being sought.

Laurelwood Park

In 2008, Laurelwood Community Club homeowners association requested that the city acquire Laurelwood Park, near South 292nd Street. The association owed back taxes on the 18.29-acre park and foreclosure was on the horizon. The city bought the property in 2009 for an amount equal to back taxes: $8,453 plus closing costs.

When the city acquired the property, it was overgrown. The property housed an outdated and rusting playground, dilapidated basketball court, baseball field, picnic area and limited parking. Some playground equipment, a baseball field and a picnic area remain. The city improved the drainage, regraded the baseball field and put a new roof on the picnic area since buying the land.

The Parks and Recreation Commission will review how the park is used and the condition of its amenities before making recommendations for future use. Ikerd said he anticipates it will remain a neighborhood park.

The plan is not concrete, but rather an outline of goals to work toward this year, Ikerd said. What is accomplished will depend on the city’s budget, he said.

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