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Residents voice concerns to school board about proposed Federal Way development

A new development that includes 308 multi-family housing units has been proposed at the Federal Way School District
A new development that includes 308 multi-family housing units has been proposed at the Federal Way School District's former transportation center at South 320th Street and 11th Place South.
— image credit: File photo

Residents of the neighborhood directly adjacent to Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) old “bus barn” site on South 320th expressed their concerns to the board of directors on Feb. 11, saying Bellevue-based DevCo’s proposed “High Point” project of retail/multi-family units is a bad fit for the neighborhood.

As the project stands now, DevCo would construct 15 buildings containing 308 dwelling units, 19,196 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, and 10,807 square feet of ground-floor common space, with the buildings ranging between 3-6 stories high.

A common theme among all the residents was the effect the proposed High Point apartment/retail complex will have on the neighborhood and the children already there, and the children who would likely inhabit the High Point project.

“I live right next to the school bus barn where this is supposed to go in,” said Leah Boehm-Brady. “Where are the children going to play in this thing? (If) we’re talking about happy children … there’s no outdoor area at all. Where’s a mother going to take her kids? Are they going to walk a half mile?”

Boehm-Brady also stressed that the residents who will be directly impacted by the project have been in their homes for decades and that she, and her fellow residents, feel the project will have an adverse affect on the neighborhood.

“They’ve lived in this little neighborhood, and it’s this great little neighborhood, that’ll be destroyed by this development,” she said. “So, you’ve got a community who lives nearby, and people who live further away, who are very upset about this. And they ask you, and we ask you, respectfully, to let it die, and let’s come up with something better. Let’s be inventive. At this point, in our city … do we want to look at what could become tenements in 10 years?”

Boehm-Brady proposed that the district allow a purchase/sale agreement the district has with DevCo to expire, saying that the agreement is set to expire on April 15.

Dianne Ferguson expressed concerns about the foot traffic the project would likely generate, especially along 320th and Eighth Avenue.

“This only has two entrances off of 320th, there’s no other entrance or exit, it’s all 320th,” Ferguson said. “So you’ll have all these elementary kids walking down 320th, and if you’ve ever walked down 320th … the cars on 320th go by really fast. And I’d just hate to see elementary kids having to walk down 320th and then over to Eighth Avenue to reach Mirror Lake (Elementary School).”

Ferguson also pointed out that high school-aged kids would have to use 320th and then Pacific Highway to get to Federal Way High School.

“I just don’t think that is an appropriate place to put our future kids in our neighborhood,” she said.

Jeanne Epp, a longtime teacher in FWPS who recently retired after 31 years in the district, said she’s concerned about the effect the likely influx of children would have on Mirror Lake Elementary, the school nearest the proposed project.

“I spoke with the secretary at Mirror Lake, who told me there’s 440 students currently there. And there are six portables,” she said. “I was fortunate enough, when I was at Mirror Lake, to have a lovely classroom and I also had a wonderful classroom at Lake Doloff … Our children deserve to be educated in a wonderful environment and a safe environment.”

Epp also highlighted that there are at least three registered sex offenders listed as living on Eighth Avenue, which puts them in close vicinity to both Mirror Lake Elementary and the proposed project.

“I’m hoping you will reconsider this because I am very concerned about the children that would be going along that route and attending school. And I’m worried about the teachers too, that could be a lot of kids.”

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