City Hall issue not new for council

Councilors on Dec. 18 began discussing a recommendation to build a new City Hall downtown, but a downtown civic center concept stretches back more than five years.

In 1995, the Federal Way City Council passed a comprehensive plan that included the construction of a civic facility in the downtown core. Assistant City Manager Derek Mattheson said years of planning and public comment went into the plan.

In 1997, the city passed a bond to pay for capital projects, including Celebration Park, some roadwork and a new police facility.

At their January 2000 retreat, councilmembers directed city staff to begin exploring options for a police facility, according to an April memo from City Manager David Moseley to the council.

City staff met on several occasions and came up with four options: a facility to house the public safety department only, a facility to house public safety and the recently created municipal court, a traditional City Hall facility to house all functions of city government, police and the municipal court and a joint facility between the city and Federal Way Public Schools.

The last option didn’t come to fruition because the school district wasn’t prepared to enter into a contract with the city.

In early 2000, city staff applied several criteria, including operational efficiency, leverage of public investment to increase private investment and available funding, to decide which option would suit the city’s needs best.

They also considered location options, including downtown, West Campus and other properly zoned areas.

In the city’s analysis, a police-only facility presented minimal advantages based on the criteria.

The municipal facility ranked highest for efficiency. A municipal facility located downtown went one step better.

According to Moseley’s memo to the council, “The development of a municipal complex in the downtown area presents numerous advantages over other locations, including a central location with good transit access for the public and the potential for leveraging of the public investment.”

The downside, he wrote, was the higher cost.

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