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Green is the goal for Federal Way

Director of Economic Development Patrick Doherty, middle, talks about sustaining Federal Way
Director of Economic Development Patrick Doherty, middle, talks about sustaining Federal Way's economy Jan. 26 at the city's annual strategic planning retreat. From left, Mayor Jack Dovey, city council member Linda Kochmar and street systems manager Marwan Salloum listen.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

The city has the money — $80,000 to be exact — to use toward transforming Federal Way into an environmentally friendly city.

But the best way to go about the change is still undecided.

City officials began discussing a Green City Strategic Plan as part of the 2007-2008 mid-biennium budget.

The issue resurfaced Jan. 26 as part of the city’s annual strategic planning retreat, which included city council members and management staff. Here, the city’s 2008 goals were discussed. Among them was the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste as well as reduce the city’s operating costs long-term.

“This is a critical issue we are about to embark on,” Mayor Jack Dovey said.

Federal Way initially planned to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for its Green City Strategic Plan in February. Consultants would have been required to provide advice on what environmental measures could be accomplished for $100,000, $250,000 or $500,000 annually, according to a RFP draft. As part of this process, a consultant would have also evaluated the city’s current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste.

After some discussion, Dovey doubted whether hiring a consultant was the best way to achieve the city’s goal. He questioned if the $80,000 could be stretched further by not hiring a consultant.

“It’s a much bigger thing than getting a study,” Dovey said.

He suggested hiring a staff person to take on the responsibility of putting together a comprehensive plan for the same amount of money. Requesting the assistance of university graduate students was another idea presented by Dovey.

However, city council member Mike Park said he felt a team of professionals was needed to develop such a plan. The task is too large for one person, he said. City council member Dini Duclos suggested hiring a contractor, who would conduct a study and begin implementing it. A compromise was not reached at the meeting.

The idea will be discussed once again by the city council as a whole in the next few months before the city chooses to issue the RFP, spokeswoman Linda Farmer said.

“I don’t think it’s feasible to ignore this issue altogether,” city council member Jim Ferrell said.

Once the city determines how it wishes to receive its advice and how much that information is worth, it will likely lead by example and begin efforts to protect the environment internally.

A draft of the RFP, created by Scott Pingel, ICMA fellow with the city manager’s office, and Public Works Deputy Director Ken Miller, detailed transportation, energy and surface water management as areas the city would like to focus and improve upon as part of its Green City Strategic Plan.

The process, whether it be a hiring a consultant or university students, will include little public input. Expanding the city’s efforts to the private sector and providing public education will come at a later date, Pingel said.

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

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Check it out:

The City of Federal Way currently takes actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste as well as cut operating costs. Following are some examples of those efforts:

LED light bulbs are used in the city’s traffic signals.

The city uses recycled paper to conduct its business.

Federal Way police utilize two hybrid vehicles.

As part of its 2007-2008 mid-biennium budget, the city ordered five hybrid SUVs to replace inoperable fleet vehicles.

In September 2007, the city signed the Puget Sound Regional Green Fleet Initiative, thereby promising to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The city is considering reviewing the Sierra Club’s suggestions on how to become an environmentally friendly or “Cool City.”

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