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Mayor delivers State of the City address

By JACINDA HOWARD, The Mirror

Federal Way has accomplished astounding feats in its 17-year history, but now is the time for change.

Mayor Jack Dovey delivered his “State of the City” address Feb. 6 to a bustling crowd at Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club in Federal Way. Dovey spoke about what he considers the city’s top seven 2007 accomplishments and its need to better communicate with citizens. He challenged residents to make the city a better place to live, work and play by giving back to the community through volunteer efforts and kind words.

“We are at a point where I think we need to change our direction,” Dovey said. “We’re at a real crossing point in Federal Way.”

The past year was a year of achievements, Dovey said. The revitalization of downtown through the Symphony project is something the mayor is proud of. The four towers to be built downtown and pegged for retail, residential and office space is a $330 million investment in the city, he said.

Proposition One, the utility tax measure that was passed by Federal Way residents, has been a success, Dovey said. Additional police officers were hired. Crime rates decreased and response times increased, he said. The increase in utility tax has led to an outstanding police department, he said.

“Our police department is by far the best around,” Dovey said.

Together, the city and police began implementing the Safe City program. Federal Way will become the 17th city in the nation to put the program in place, Dovey said.

The Federal Way Community Center is another significant 2007 accomplishment, he said. Since opening in late March, the activity center has drawn more than 225,000 visitors, Dovey said.

“This is truly the bedrock of what Federal Way is,” Dovey said about the community center.

Rezoning in the city has allowed businesses to prosper, and the purchase of snow and ice equipment will better protect residents in emergency weather conditions, Dovey said. The acquiring of a radio station and emergency alert system were also mentioned by the mayor.

“We are trying to communicate with our citizens so you all are safer,” he said.

Paying off bonds used to construct City Hall was the city’s seventh most notable move, Dovey said. The city saved nearly $2 million in interest in paying off bonds on this building and the reconstruction of Knutzen Family Theater.

Federal Way resident Brenda Holt has lived in the city for five years, but said she was not aware of all that has been accomplished in the past year.

“It’s wonderful to know we have achieved what we have,” Holt said.

Federal Way had no problem starting and completing projects in 2007, but its residents were not always aware of those projects, Dovey said. Communication between city government and its constituents must improve, he said. For this reason, Dovey plans to start town meetings, he said. Twice a month, he will make an appearance in the city to educate residents on the current issues facing Federal Way, he said. These meetings will begin Feb. 12 at Nautilus Elementary School, 1000 S. 289th St.

“I’m not sure we communicate very well to our citizens what we’ve done,” Dovey said at a Jan. 26 city retreat.

Continuing to make Federal Way a better place will require more than efforts by the city staff. Dovey listed the many Federal Way organizations that are in desperate need of volunteers. He encouraged those in attendance to mentor and read to children, organize food drives, create block watches and say hello to someone unfamiliar.

“We need to consider how we each give back to the community in an individual way,” Dovey said.

Kent resident Jennifer Collman works in Federal Way and has a 14-year-old daughter. She liked Dovey’s encouragement to mentor children and teens, she said.

“I just shook his hand and thanked him (for his speech),” she said following Dovey’s address.

The mayor concluded his State of the City address by quoting legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.

“We are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.”

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

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2007 accomplishments according to City staff and management:

• Implemented a graffiti ordinance

• Implemented Proposition One utility tax increase and hired additional police officers

• Began AMC Theater site redevelopment known as the Symphony project

• Completed Hylebos boardwalk improvements

• Began Saghalie Middle School turf project

• Hired a city spokeswoman and communications director

• Revised city codes

• Hired a domestic violence prosecutor

• Decreased index crime rates

• Increased police response times

• Acquired funding for the Safe City project

• Secured the Interstate 5, State Route 18, State Route 161 triangle project as part of the state’s Roads and Transit measure

• Acquired $40 million in funding from exterior agencies, such as the state and federal governments, to assist with Federal Way projects

• Moved a Lakehaven Utility District and a South King Fire and Rescue representative into City Hall to make the permitting process easier

“When you start talking about the things we’ve done; it’s amazing what we’ve done in one year,” city council member Linda Kochmar said.

2007 setbacks:

• East Federal Way residents voted not to annex into the city

• Resignation of a Federal Way Municipal Court judge

• Several city employees left for jobs in city government elsewhere

• Federal Way Community Center has fallen short of financial expectations

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