News

City to state: Show me the money

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

The city was not bashful in expressing its hankering for state funding.

The Federal Way City Council requested the assistance of 30th District state legislators Jan. 11 during its annual Legislative Breakfast.

There, the city introduced its hopes to accumulate state funding for the following 2008 city priorities: A performing arts center and conference center, local infrastructure, beach management at Dumas Bay, affordable housing and transportation.

Performing arts center:

City council members detailed the importance of a performing arts center in Federal Way. They informed the three legislators — State Sen. Tracey Eide, D- 30th District, State Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-30th District and State Rep. Skip Priest, R-30th District — that they wish to seek between $7 million and $9 million in state money to assist in paying for the performing arts center.

The council reminded the legislators that South King County has not recently seen significant state funding for projects such as this. A performing arts center, paired with a hotel and conference center, has the ability to jump-start the city’s downtown revitalization, council member Jeanne Burbidge said.

“This really is a number one issue for our city,” Burbidge said. “We believe a performing arts center can be a catalyst for the downtown center.”

Infrastructure:

As Federal Way and the state’s populations continue to grow, infrastructure remains a concern for the city council and legislators.

“Infrastructure is one of the most important investments in the city, but it has a huge dollar amount,” council member Mike Park said.

Statewide, cities are competing for money to improve and build upon their infrastructure, Eide said. Several roads, viaducts, interchanges, ferries and bridges, to name a few, are in need of upgrades or repairs, she said.

“It’s not pretty and everybody wants something for nothing,” Eide said.

Mayor Jack Dovey requested the legislators to keep in mind that infrastructure is important to Federal Way, and the city makes its best efforts to address its own infrastructure.

“We want you to continue to be good stewards of your money and ours,” Dovey said.

Dumas Bay beach management:

The removal of an abundance of seaweed — also called sea lettuce — in Dumas Bay is among the city’s priorities in 2008.

“I know more about sea lettuce now than I ever thought I’d know,” Priest said.

The stinky decomposing vegetation has resulted in several complaints by Federal Way citizens. Last May, the city requested the Washington State Department of Ecology, which was slated to receive state money to conduct seaweed removal in Seattle’s Fauntleroy Cove, take responsibility for the extraction of the seaweed in Dumas Bay.

After months of discussion, Federal Way allocated $50,000 to the removal, and the Department of Ecology agreed to head the operation. This year, the city hopes to remove the overgrowth. It may require additional funding.

Affordable housing:

Affordable housing made the city’s priority list this year for the first time, Deputy Mayor Eric Faison said.

“It’s becoming a bigger issue every day,” Dovey said.

Both short-term and long-term solutions to affordable housing in the city are needed, the group agreed. Incentives for developers constructing homes that low-income citizens can afford, and temporary homeless shelters, were ideas briefly discussed at the meeting. The goal is to provide housing that is within residents’ means, thus preventing an increase in the homeless population.

“Once they become homeless, it’s a downward spiral,” city council member Dini Duclos said.

Transportation:

The city’s utmost concern regarding transportation is the conservation of the partial funding now set aside to address the Interstate 5, Highway 18, Pacific Highway South interchange, also known as the “triangle.”

Had the roads and transit measure known as Proposition One passed in November, the project would have received the remaining money needed to make the interchange safe for motorists.

But now, Federal Way must focus on how to secure the remaining funding for the project while also holding on to the existing money it has worked so hard to achieve.

“The triangle is the biggest thing we need to make sure we protect in the Legislature in the next few sessions,” Dovey said.

The legislators agreed that funding for the triangle project is essential. But regionwide traffic is worsening and the state must find a way to alleviate the problem as a whole, Miloscia said.

“We have to come up with plan ‘D’ or ‘E’,” Miloscia said.

The legislators all promised to work their hardest to secure funding for Federal Way, but reminded the city council that this session is shorter than usual, and many in the Senate and House want to “get in and get out” without spending much money.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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