Opinion

A park for all of us | Mayor’s Memo

Mayor Jim Ferrell - Contributed photo
Mayor Jim Ferrell
— image credit: Contributed photo

Last Saturday, I was thrilled to see more than 1,000 people come out for the opening of Town Square Park, our city’s first downtown park.

As we cut the ribbon that day, we were celebrating more than a park. We were celebrating the birth of our city’s future downtown, a true milestone for the entire community.

Every great city — big or small — has at least one central gathering place where residents can come together for community events, rallies and concerts, or to gather in smaller groups for picnics and recreational activities. New York has Central Park and Bryant Park. Seattle has Westlake Park. Portland has McCall Waterfront Park and many others.

Now, Federal Way has Town Square Park.

The excitement and energy was palpable throughout the event as people listened to the live bands and kids jumped in the bounce houses, blew bubbles and did arts and crafts. A downtown park should be the beating heart of the city, where people from different neighborhoods come together on common ground to enjoy their city and what it has to offer. Last Saturday’s event showed us what this park will be.

I’ve tasked interim Parks Director John Hutton and his staff with developing and offering interesting and engaging programs at the park. We have one of the finest Parks and Recreation departments in the region and they will be working to transfer some of the successful kids and adult programs developed at the Community Center and bring them to Town Square.

This four-acre multi-use park is designed to be a park for all our people. The lawn area is the site of recreation programs like Yoga in the Grass, volleyball clinics and other activities. It is also a great place to bring a lawn chair or blanket and get some sun on a hot summer day like we’ve had in recent weeks.

Chess players can check out pieces from parks staff to play the giant chess board. The picnic tables offer a convenient place for a workday lunch break or to meet your friends for lunch beneath an astounding view of Mt. Rainier. And yes, you can get free Wi-Fi at the park through the Federal Way wireless network.

The park features a full-sized basketball court and two half-courts, with one basket lowered and reserved for little hoopsters. We already have a kids 3V3 tournament scheduled for August (registration at www.itallhappenshere.org) and we plan to have many more special activities.

The courts and much of the park grounds are painted with bright colors, including a kids maze and a spiral that are great fun for youngsters to follow the patterns.

Positive activity and ongoing staffing of the park will ensure that the park upholds a family-friendly atmosphere and that we can be responsive to the needs of park patrons. Additionally, we’ll ensure that park safety is always paramount through our park management plan and police operations plan for Town Square. In addition to the police substation 750 feet from the park, the site will be monitored through our SafeCity cameras.

Much of what this park is reflects needs and preferences we have heard from residents over the past year. Town Square Park will evolve over time as people use it, and share their ideas for new services and features. The onsite park kiosk includes a place for people to leave comments and suggestions. These can also be sent directly to John Hutton at john.hutton@cityoffederalway.com or by calling John at 253-835-6910.

Throughout last fall’s campaign, I had heard from thousands of people who want to see our downtown become something we can all be proud of. I promised that one of the things we would do this year, was to convert the old vacant AMC lot the city has owned for eight years into a park. The $267,000 in construction costs came from the $2.4 million City Center Redevelopment fund established to develop our downtown.

The Town Square Park investment is vital to transforming the downtown into a destination for residents and visitors alike. For decades — since the founding of this city in 1990 — we have been talking about reshaping our downtown and creating a sense of place, a true city center. Town Square Park is that center.

With the Performing Arts and Conference Center being built next door, we will soon have two exciting facilities that draw people to the city center. Businesses will want to be where people are.

Town Square Park is the visible sign that the candle has been lit and Federal Way’s downtown is on the rise.

Jim Ferrell is the mayor of Federal Way.

 

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