News

What's next for the parks?

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

Federal Way parks officials have started working on a list of 10 things they hope to cross off by the end of this year, starting with an update to the plan that guides the city’s acquisition and development of parks and open spaces.

Under state law, cities are required to have parks plans, and Federal Way has had one for several years. But parks director Donna Hanson said the time has come to update the plan. It’s required, she said, and the city will need an up-to-date plan to apply for grants.

As part of their efforts, officials want to know how people are using the parks and if they’re using them differently than they did when the parks were first developed.

For example, some neighborhood parks were designed years ago with play equipment suitable for small children. But since then, those kids have gotten bigger, and families might want the city to direct more money to maintaining ballfields or the skate park now.

In neighborhoods where children have grown up and moved away, residents might want parks officials to focus on adult athletic leagues or some of the city’s natural open spaces.

Getting a handle on what people want will require public involvement, and parks officials are hoping to get that at meetings around the city in the coming weeks. The meetings haven’t been scheduled, but officials are hoping to have everything finished by June, in time for state outdoor recreation grant funding.

In addition to the parks plan update:

• Officials will continue the fund-raising effort for the new community center, for which they hope to bring in $500,000 for unfunded or underfunded items for the facility that’s being built near Celebration Park.

The fund-raising drive got off to a slow start, and Parks Commission members noted fewer people than they’d hoped attended a fundraising event in November. Still, the city did receive a major donation and is still working toward its goal, officials said.

• During late spring or early summer, officials will provide a status report on French Lake Park, which the City Council last summer converted into an off-leash dog park for one year.

Council members requested a year’s worth of data to guide their evemtia; decision on whether to allow French Lake to remain an off-leash dog park. If there are no reported safety issues or other problems, the park is likely to remain a place for the city’s dogs to run free.

• Parks officials this year also will continue working on developing ideas and guidelines for an open public space or town square concept downtown based on the recommendations provided by RTKL, an urban design firm hired by the city to help with revitalization efforts downtown.

• During the third quarter of this year, officials will work on developing potential uses and improvements for the Camp Kilworth property.

Last October, the council authorized the city purchasing the former Boy Scout property for $3 million, with $1.2 million due at closing, $1 million by the first anniversary of the purchase date and the final $800,000 by the second anniversary. Sale of the property is contingent upon the Boy Scouts clearing the title with the Kilworth family heirs.

Upgrades to the property would include making it accessible to people with disabilities and fixing up some buildings on the site. Parks officials will have to account for ongoing maintenance costs if the city does ultimately buy it.

• Other items on the parks work plan for 2006 include revising the city’s special-use permit application process, reporting on the issue of impact fees, standardizing all park signs and installing artificial turf at Saghalie Park.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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