Veterans memorial could fire up Federal Way's economy | Andy Hobbs

If Federal Way wants a park downtown, let’s do it.

If Federal Way wants a veterans memorial, let’s do it.

Better yet, let’s try both at the same time. And get your mind off the naughty side for a second. This is about the pure potential for tattooing Federal Way on the national map.

The AMC Theatres site is an empty parking lot near the transit center. Despite the recent failed skyscraper proposal, that land reeks of potential. The 4.1-acre site even came in handy this week as a savior for the Federal Way Farmers Market, which found a temporary new home.

Next door, another empty property may become home to an arts and civic center. Now the table is set for that area on 20th Avenue South — except for one thing. The Historical Society of Federal Way and Kiwanis are exploring ideas for a monument to veterans. That is the missing piece to Federal Way’s puzzle.

The monument, if big and bold enough, will draw tourists nationwide, all year long. The monument, surrounded by a plain and clean park, will spur surrounding development. That means a monument will make money so Federal Way can build, build, build.

Perhaps it could inspire more pedestrian-friendly paths in the area, such as a bridge over 320th Street. It will pump cash into nearby restaurants and retail. The monument can serve military ceremonies: Flag Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day. It can be an end point for parades honoring veterans.

Who knows what it could look like. That’s why the arts commission would find an artist — the right artist who obeyed only one command: The monument must be respectful, edgy, simple and direct. That may be a matter of taste, but simplicity creates classics.

Federal Way City Council members spoke this week about letting the market drive development at the site. A market-driven approach is the right approach, they say with a nod toward the private sector.

Rather than waiting for a market-driven approach, Federal Way should drive its own market. There is no room for passiveness when shaping Federal Way. City leaders must seize a vision and mold consensus, rather than seek consensus, on the future of downtown. With this kind of initiative, the city can leap forward instead of crawling or wandering aimlessly while waiting for someone else.

If Federal Way wants to kick-start the downtown engine, let’s do it. If Federal Way is serious about raising quality of life, let’s do it.

Let’s find the money and aim the vision at a bold monument for veterans. Let’s build it in a park that’s sandwiched between a civic center and transit center. Let’s make our mark in the name of veterans, whose sacrifice on our behalf is a moral issue that unites us all.

Let’s set a fire in the belly of Federal Way’s economy and give visitors a reason to come. Let’s do it.

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