1. What fundamental infrastructure problems should be corrected in Federal Way to improve quality of life, and how should those be prioritized?
First and foremost, we need to address traffic congestion in our city. There are at least three major improvements in infrastructure that need to occur. First, we need an additional freeway off-ramp in our city core. Our long-range plans have that overpass at 324th, just south of the main exit at 320th. This freeway exit will serve to unload and decongest the 320th corridor at our key traffic times. Second, we need to ensure that traffic is moving efficiently through our city through coordination of lights. Starting next year, we will begin the implementation and utilization of a $2 million grant from King County for a control room where traffic cameras will monitor traffic in real time. The personnel in that control room will be able to adjust light time and make sure that traffic moves efficiently through our city. This will be a big improvement and enable people to move through our city with much more ease. Third, we need more sidewalks in our city in key locations. Some of those areas include Hoyt Road, near Green Gables Elementary and First Avenue heading down toward Redondo. Over the past six months I have walked many areas of our city, as I have talked with our neighbors, and have found out how dangerous some of these locations can be.
2. What amenities other than the Performing Arts and Event Center or Town Square Park should be pursued in the downtown core to make it complete?
In addition to our beautiful new Town Square Park and Performing Arts and Event Center, there is still much to be done. Next, we will be constructing a grand new staircase that will be where a 30-foot wall now stands, which separates the PAEC and the park. This new staircase will be wide enough to accommodate ADA-compliant ramps, and will serve as a gathering place, amphitheater and focal point for our city. It will tie the entire downtown together and create a visual and actual center of the downtown. Just weeks ago, the city sold 1.86 acres of land immediately next to the PAEC so that a hotel can be built there. That hotel, likely a Hilton product, will sit between the current PAEC and the old Target building. The staircase will be just to the east of that hotel. The old Target needs to be torn down. That location could very well be where our satellite college campus is located. Earlier this year I signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Washington Tacoma, Highline College and Federal Way Public Schools. We are working with these partners now to determine the preliminary locations of where these classes will be offered and what those classes will be. Lastly, we need a grocery store in our downtown, hopefully on that former Target location or nearby.
3. How do you think the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce and city of Federal Way’s economic and community development departments should work together to enhance economic growth in the community?
First, the city and chamber are working together in unprecedented ways. We are a Pivotal Partner of the chamber and we actively participate in many chamber functions, events and programs. Second, through the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee we have engaged the chamber in a $20,000 per year program for a Hospitality Education and Tourism Training Program. This is the second year of that program. Third, we have our regular Chamber Quarterly Updates where I and council members meet with chamber representatives. During these quarterly meetings I update the chamber of the city government activities in a variety of areas. It’s a great chance to share information and get valuable input for both sides. Fourth, there is regular contact between me and Economic Development Director Tim Johnson and the chamber regarding our mutual efforts. In the future, I think we can and will communicate and collaborate on business recruitment efforts locally and regionally.
4. What do you want the city to be known for? What is one way you would start to establish that reputation?
I want Federal Way to be known as a great place to raise a family and start and/or headquarter a business. We have a beautiful community and great schools. We are ideally located between two major ports, within minutes of one of the fastest growing airports in the country, and we are centrally located in the Puget Sound region with immediate access to I-5. Our geography is a big draw for our city, as is our low cost of doing business. We have no B&O Tax and no plans to have one! We also have a very receptive city government that stands ready to assist new businesses to our city, and we stand ready to help existing businesses, as well.
5. What should be the city’s priority when working with Sound Transit in bringing light rail to the city, especially when establishing an acceptable route for the next phase of light rail from Federal Way to Tacoma?
The most important issue in dealing with Sound Transit is to ensure that our residents are heard through a thorough and thoughtful public process. I encourage everyone to submit comments to: federalwaylink.org/ if you are unable to attend Sound Transit public hearings here in Federal Way in person. Second, we need to make sure there are minimal impacts to our existing businesses and that any interruptions of business are brief. We are in the process of identifying key negotiation points with ST, but they will almost certainly include efforts to make these stops safe (through a police substation and added patrols), that there is adequate parking, good lighting, a covered plaza and opportunities for business development. If done correctly, this will be a major turning point for our city.
6. When talking to people about Federal Way, what do you encourage them to do/visit while here?
I encourage people to visit our great restaurants, check out Town Square Park, Steel Lake Park, Wild Waves, the Bonsai Garden, our new PAEC, Dumas Bay and the Hylebos boardwalk. It is a beautiful city, and Wendy, Ben and I are proud to call it our home.