Federal Way Mirror announces PACC survey results | Editor's Note

Carrie Rodriguez - File photo
Carrie Rodriguez
— image credit: File photo

Last month, we kicked off our first Federal Way Forum survey, asking residents whether the city of Federal Way needs a Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC).

I am pleased to announce the survey results.

We received 279 responses, including 82 print responses and 197 online. Most of the online responses came from people who live in Washington, while people in 15 others states, from California to New York, also responded.

We asked the community if Federal Way needs a PACC. Fifty-five percent — or 151 people — said yes, the city should build the PACC.

“I am a member of the Jet Cities Chorus of Sweet Adelines, Int’l,” one respondent wrote. “We do many events for the city every year and do not receive any monies for doing so. We enjoy doing this for the city. There is presently no venue in Federal Way for groups like ours and many others to perform for a large number of people. Building a PACC would be a huge bonus for the performing groups and for the city.”

Others agreed, saying the city does not have a venue to accommodate conferences, ballet or dance troupes.

“Sumner, Auburn and Kent all have centers and they are always turning conferences away,” wrote another participant. “Not one of our schools has an auditorium. Every high school in Puyallup has one. Why are we so anti-cultural here?”

Another participant wrote: “Federal Way has long moldered in the dregs of suburban mediocrity. While it is unlikely that the PACC will be anything but mediocre, the development might revitalize this wide spot on the freeway. Plus, it would be nice to see something other than a big box store move into town.”

But 45 percent of respondents disagreed, noting that nearby cities “already have facilities to accommodate arts groups,” wrote a participant.

“I don’t believe Federal Way and the surrounding area residents could support the PACC to be profitable,” another person wrote. “I attend the Seattle Symphony from time-to-time and often I do not see the performances full … I do not think there is enough support to warrant the costs.”

Others said “there needs to be a dedicated revenue stream identified that will cover the debt service and operating costs” and that Federal Way does “not have the population” to support the PACC.

“If the elite want it, the elite should create a non-profit to pay for it,” wrote a participant.

The Federal Way Forum survey also asked residents if the city builds the PACC, how often would they use the facility?

Answers ranged from “never” and “as often as hell freezes over, unless my child’s school makes me,” to “as often as I can” and “a bazillion times.”

Several arts groups noted they would use the facility several times a year.

The survey also asked if the PACC’s projected cost, at an estimated $32 million, was too expensive.

Sixty-three percent of respondents, or 140 people, said no, while 37 percent said yes.

“Dumb question. As compared to what … becoming an impoverished community where we spend millions on services for the poor?” Wrote one participant. “It costs more to be poor in goods and services than it does to start to grow our economic base upwards. Who do we want to attract? More homeless and gangs? Oh goody.”

Some said there are private foundation funders, individual supporters and loans available to fund this project.

But others said the cost is too expensive.

“Not only is $32 million too much for a dubious project, the Federal Way taxpayers will be forced to subsidize the PACC, which is an unnecessary financial burden for years,” wrote one respondent. “We are already subsidizing the Community Center. If the PACC can’t support itself, it should not be built.”

“It is too expensive for the small percent of people that it will attract,” another wrote.

While more people who took the survey agreed that the PACC should be built, the majority of all respondents said that voters should get to decide if it is built. Fifty-five percent, or 127 participants, said let voters decide.

“If you are going to spend my money (taxes), then I should get a say in what you do with that money,” wrote one participant.

“Absolutely. This is a tremendous expense that may reduce funding to other services and facilities residents rely on now,” another person said.

Several respondents noted that residents elect Council members to make informed decisions. Others worried that some voters would “not take the time to read about the PACC” and would make an uninformed vote.

“This project is already underway,” wrote another person. “I don’t recall voting for the Community Center or the parks and ball fields, but I support them. Do you really want to repay the grants we have received or do you want to bat this around for another 18 years?”

“This has been talked to death, argued ad nauseam and thoroughly vetted. The only purpose a vote would serve is additional delay.”

About 54 percent of participants said they would vote yes on the PACC if the city puts the project to a vote, while 46 percent said they would vote no.

The survey also asked if there was a different project the city should pursue instead of the PACC. While 65 percent of people said no, others generated some interesting responses, such as:

• Perhaps a smaller scale theater with high end acoustics. There are smaller theaters in Federal Way, and schools have facilities that are available for events, but many lack in acoustic technology.

• Please, no rifle ranges, car races or cemeteries.

• Job creation and more police.

• A parking garage on this property.

• I would like to see the facility be able to have outdoor presentations. In fact, outdoor performances may be a low-cost start to something bigger.

• Spend the $32 million making sure Federal Way gets the Link Light Rail sooner than later.

• A university branch campus, relocation of a large anchor commercial tenant, an attraction of some sort (museum or the like) to create an interest in the area. Developers will not develop other buildings if the area is full of old rundown strip malls.

Thank you to all of you who responded to the survey. We look forward to sharing your responses with elected leaders. The mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel will also present its findings regarding the PACC on May 8.

Please stay tuned for our coverage on the findings, which, we hope, will generate further discussion as the project continues to move forward.


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