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Year in review: Federal Way weathers winds of change

North Shore proposal (Jan. 31)

The North Shore Golf and Country Club is in the process of being sold to Northshore Investors LLC, which plans to construct approximately 860 residential units on land that currently houses tees, greens and fairways.

The 115-acre Northeast Tacoma golf course has been for sale for more than two years by North Shore Golf Associates. Several housing developments surround it. Many of those residents worry the new homes will drop property values and overwhelm schools and streets. Federal Way shares some of these concerns and is in negotiations with the developer to request several mitigations, especially pertaining to traffic.

The question of whether the area is considered open space is another touchy subject.

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City passes graffiti law (March 24)

Federal Way tagged graffiti offenders with tougher laws while easing up on penalties for affected property owners.

New ordinances were passed unanimously by the city council on March 20. The laws call for faster cleanup. With graffiti now classified as a public nuisance, offenders face a mandatory five days in jail upon a second conviction. It is also illegal to possess items like spray paint with the intent to use the materials for graffiti. The council also voted to allow property owners three days to remove graffiti on their property after notification by the city’s code compliance office.

The ordinance and the addition of a part-time city employee to cover up graffiti has resulted in a decrease in tagging.

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Community center opens (March 31)

Federal Way City Council members cut the ribbon during grand opening ceremonies March 31 for the new Federal Way Community Center. The 72,000-square-foot center, located at the south end of Celebration Park, has fallen under criticism for generating less than projected revenues. The low number of pass sales is a primary reason why the Community Center is falling short financially.

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Sanjaya fever (May 9)

Hundreds of screaming teens and curious fans flocked to The Commons mall May 9 to meet entertainer Sanjaya Malakar. The former Federal Way resident burst onto the national scene after his stint on the TV talent show “American Idol.” On a side note, a real estate agent used the singer’s newfound fame to help sell the Malakar family’s former Federal Way home.

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St. Francis ready to grow (June 20)

On June 12, the state Department of Health approved St. Francis Hospital’s request for an additional 36 in-patient beds and increased nursery capabilities. St. Francis Hospital submitted an application requesting the beds and expanded nursery care in September 2006.

The bed expansion would be the first the hospital has undergone since its opening in 1987, and would bring the in-patient bed total up to 146. Though the state has approved the expansion, MultiCare Health System appealed the state-issued certificate of need, and the expansion is currently on hold for an undetermined amount of time until the Department of Health reviews the appeal.

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Voting goes to the dogs (June 27)

Duncan cannot read a voter’s pamphlet, sign his name or discuss pressing issues with his state representatives because he is a dog. But this did not stop him from becoming a Washington state voter. Federal Way resident Jane Balogh was charged with a misdemeanor crime when she registered her dog to vote via absentee ballot and then, on three separate occasions, sent in a ballot signed with Duncan’s paw print. The ballots had the word “void” written across them.

Balogh is concerned about voter fraud and believes acquiring a voter’s registration card in Washington is too easy. She wrote state lawmakers several times, questioning what she calls a flawed system, but never received an adequate response, she said. This was a way to demonstrate her point.

Balogh has since pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of making a false or misleading statement to a public servant. On Sept. 5, she agreed to a one-year deferred prosecution, in which the charges will be dropped upon completing 10 hours of community service, paying a $250 fine and not breaking the law for a year. She said the stunt was worth the punishment.

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Council chooses developer for massive project (July 21)

The Federal Way City Council decided, in a 4-to-3 vote, to aim high — 20-stories high — in its quest to embark on a journey to transform the city’s downtown core.

The council chose Canadian developer United Properties Ltd. to construct four high-rise buildings and a 1-acre park at the site where the former AMC Theater, located near the transit center on 23rd Avenue South, once resided. The developer presented a mixed-use project consisting of residential, office and retail space. It will be called Symphony.

The city bought the property for $4.1 million and United Properties Ltd. purchased it on Dec. 4 for $6.156 million.

For more information read: “Downtown high-rise plan makes more room for retail,” Dec. 7; “Council faces critical crossroad,” July 13; and “Downtown high-rises on the horizon,” June 27.

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Voters reject annexation (Aug. 22)

Voters in the proposed East Federal Way annexation area made their opposition toward incorporation into Federal Way clear in the August primary election. With King County feeling pressure to fulfill its obligation to provide both county and local services to those in unincorporated locations, the annexation was presented as a way to assure unincorporated residents continual and adequate local services.

Had the annexation passed, school, library, sewer, bus, animal control and fire and medical services would have experienced no alterations. Legislative representation, police, court, roads and permitting and zoning services would have changed. The issue may be put on a future ballot if the Federal Way City Council wishes to do so.

For more information read: “Annexation vote awaits its fate,” Aug. 8.

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Christian Faith Center sees the green light (Aug. 24)

After an eight-year process filled with delayed completion dates, rezoning permits and traffic mitigation efforts, the Christian Faith Center mega-church welcomed patrons to its new Federal Way location Sept. 2.

Since the announcement of plans to operate in Federal Way, Christian Faith Center faced opposition from some residents whom were worried about the traffic congestion they expected the church to cause. The 219,000-square-foot church situated on about 48 acres on 20th Avenue South boasts a bookstore, wedding chapel, espresso bars, cafe, prayer and meeting rooms, 1,670 parking stalls and a 2,500-seat sanctuary.

For more information read: “Thousands flock to mega-church,” Sept. 4.

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Monkee sighting (Aug. 25)

Micky Dolenz, a former member of The Monkees, rocked the crowd Aug. 25 during Federal Way’s Festival Days at The Commons mall parking lot. Management at the mall said it no longer can accommodate such events, saying large festivals like this prove detrimental to the mall’s businesses.

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Clean vehicles in Federal Way (Sept. 19)

Federal Way plans to introduce electric and hybrid vehicles to its fleet in the coming years. A handful of city employees attended the Clean Vehicles Now! conference Sept. 19 in Seattle. Cities that sponsored the conference, including Federal Way, agreed to accept the Puget Sound Regional Green Fleet Initiative. The act asks participants to make efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the alteration of transportation fleets.

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Tour spotlights realities of building an arts center (Sept. 29)

Federal Way arts enthusiasts gathered Sept. 25 for a daylong excursion to three performing arts centers in the region. Establishing a performing arts center in the city is possible, but will require community support and substantial fundraising; it will not come fast or easy, said Steve Lerian, Kirkland Performance Center executive director.

The city re-allocated $80,000 from the Federal Way Arts Commission plan and 2006 budget for a feasibility study for the performing arts center, which is being conducted by Johnson Consulting of Chicago.

For more information read: “Arts center gains momentum,” June 23;

“Quest for arts center plugs along,” Oct. 26; and “Performing arts center will survive if slated for mixed use,” Dec. 7.

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Sale of Camp Kilworth clears its final legal hurdle (Sept. 29)

The Pacific Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America received permission Sept. 25 to sell its 25-acre Camp Kilworth, near South Dash Point Road, to the City of Federal Way. Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Larkin determined the scouts were not violating a 1934 contract in which William Kilworth deeded the property, to be used for scouting purposes, to the Pacific Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America.

In fall 2004, the Boy Scouts put the property up for sale. In October 2005, Federal Way crafted an agreement with the Scouts to buy the property for $3 million. The purchase of the land was held up by the William Kilworth Trust and the Florence Kilworth Trust, which argued the sale of the land violated the deed.

The trusts appealed the judge’s decision in late November and the city has since decided to extend its purchase agreement past the original Dec. 31, 2007, expiration date.

For more information read: “Pristine land lingers in limbo,” June 16.

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Election date set for mayor initiative (Oct. 20)

Federal Way residents will decide whether they prefer an elected strong mayor over a city manager during a special election on Feb. 19, 2008.

The special election was set into action when Federal Way resident Roy Parke and his organization, Accountability Comes to Town, circulated a petition for an elected mayor measure to be put on a ballot.

The petition, including the 2,207 legitimate signatures of registered King County voters, was submitted to Federal Way and King County Elections on July 30. State law required 1,825 valid signatures to be collected in order to place the measure on a ballot.

“I don’t feel that our current system has checks and balances in place,” Parke said.

For more information read: “Push for elected mayor clears hurdle,” Aug. 8; “Elected mayor movement ripens,” Nov. 19; and “Voters will decide on elected mayor,” Sept. 29.

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Officer must quit law enforcement after guilty plea (Oct. 26)

Former Federal Way police officer Terry Wilson pleaded guilty Oct. 23 to assault in the fourth degree, pertaining to his inappropriate touching of a 17-year-old female Federal Way High School student in June 2007.

Wilson, of no relation to police chief Brian Wilson, has served as a public resource officer at the school for four years. He was ordered to resign from his position and refrain from serving as a police officer or contacting the victim.

For more information read: “Charges filed against FW police officer,” Sept. 4; and “Police officer heads to court,” Sept. 14.

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Proposition One: Back to the drawing board (Nov. 9)

Following the 2007 general election, city leaders were left pondering how to improve congestion, given voters’ rejection of Proposition One — the roads and transit package five years in the making.

Had the approximately $47 billion (including inflation costs) Proposition One passed, it would have offered much-needed traffic relief in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

Of utmost importance to Federal Way was its “triangle” project: The interchange of Interstate 5, State Route 18 and State Route 161. Proposition One would have supplied the estimated $120 million needed to complete the project, which the city has lobbied to fund for the past seven years.

Discussions with state representatives and senators will take place to ensure the project will not be forgotten, assistant city manager Cary Roe said.

For more information read: “Critical crossroads: Roads and Transit vote,” Oct. 12.

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Elder-Duclos race: Too close to call (Nov. 13)

The race between Hope Elder and Dini Duclos for Federal Way City Council position 7 was a close one. Following election day, it appeared as though Elder would celebrate a win, but in the end, Duclos won the race by a few hundred votes — many of them absentee. This will be the first time Duclos, CEO of the Multi-Service Center, has served in a city council position. She will replace Dean McColgan and begin her duties at the Jan. 2 city council meeting.

For more information read: “Eight-year McColgan era comes to an end,” Dec. 21.

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Forecast predicts a regional jail (Nov. 23)

Conscious of looming jail contracts with facilities in Yakima and King County, which will expire in 2010 and 2012, respectively, the city entered into an inter-local agreement with Renton to provide funding for a jail facility feasibility study. The study is a proactive step in determining how Federal Way will house inmates who commit misdemeanor crimes.

An opportunity to renew jail contracts may not be available after the current contracts expire, Federal Way Police Deputy Chief Andy Hwang said. The city must plan ahead and consider either building its own jail or participating in the construction of a regional jail, he said.

Renton will lead the study and pay for the majority of it. Federal Way, Tukwila, Des Moines and Auburn will contribute funding as well. Federal Way is expected to pay $19,320 for the study.

For more information read: “Cities consider building a regional jail,” Oct. 10.

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Smile, thieves: You’re on city’s cameras (Dec. 7)

Federal Way will become the newest Safe City with the implementation of 25 surveillance cameras in the city’s downtown core. The cameras will be placed in the parking lots of businesses in the Safe City zone. Live footage of the lots and surrounding areas will be available to patrol officers through the use of laptop computers in police vehicles.

The program is expected to decrease crime in the downtown area and be in operation by the conclusion of 2008. Initial start-up costs will be partially funded by the Target Corporation, which has funded other Safe Cities across the nation.

For more information read: “Community policing on steroids,” May 5; and “Cameras in city’s core can catch crooks,” Sept. 11.

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