Spread your ideas for downtown Federal Way | Andy Hobbs

In my wallet is a message from a fortune cookie that reads: “The best way to get a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

That said, ideas are a-flying for revamping a 4.1-acre vacant parking lot in downtown Federal Way. Some leaders want “mixed use development,” which is jargon for a retail and residential package. Others lean toward open space, preferring a brand new park. In a previous column, I made the case for a veterans memorial.

Another idea that surfaced is a downtown community garden. Federal Way is already blessed with a handful of community gardens at schools across the city, in addition to the flagship garden at the Federal Way Senior Center. Mike Stanley, executive director of the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation, planted a little seed in our noggins a couple of years ago. Stanley envisions community gardens throughout the city, cultivating a garden-friendly reputation that puts Federal Way on the map.

The gardens help stock food banks and feed people in need. The gardens double as a meeting place for friends and family to socialize. Furthermore, the gardens teach children and adults the ways of cultivation — and the science behind Mother Nature.

To explore that idea further, check out a series in the Los Angeles Times about the community garden scene in Southern California.

In one example, the Francis Avenue Community Garden consists of 18 tiny plots in L.A.’s most densely populated neighborhood. “It’s a true community meeting place, used for wedding parties, talks on domestic violence, arts and crafts classes for the kids,” according to one report, which notes the garden is always busy. “During the day, housewives come to sit on the mismatched park benches under the pergola just outside the fenced-in gardening area, trading gossip and watching one another’s children.”

Aside from open spaces and community parks, another key component to quality of life is the so-called “third place.” The term describes a gathering spot outside of home (“first place”) and work (“second place”).

A community garden on that prime real estate wouldn’t do much for generating tax revenue and money from visitors. Perhaps this idea is inspired by the social needs of residents — whether through charity or camaraderie.

Should that vacant property in downtown Federal Way become a massive community garden? It’s just another idea.

That vacant parking lot begs for a bold idea, and the bolder, the better. Want more out-of-towners spending their money in downtown Federal Way? Let’s give them a reason to visit.

Keep the ideas coming, and remember that fortune cookie’s advice: The best way to get a good idea is to have lots of good ideas. The right idea can give birth to a small fortune for Federal Way. And when the right idea arrives, the right people will put that idea into action. That’s how ideas work.

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