A downtown in Federal Way is still possible

Is a core downtown really antiquated? Nice thoughtful comments by Ex-Auburn Mayor Bob Roegner and Mr. Federal Way regarding a core downtown. I’m reflecting on one comment to my original letter “Commons Mall waste of real estate,” and I thought a more-detailed response would stimulate more discussion. One comment was, “the idea of a downtown is even more antiquated than the idea of a mall.” I will have to respectfully disagree.

Maybe the the majority of Federal Way also disagrees. A recent poll done by the Federal Way Mirror asked, “What would you like to see most in Federal Way’s downtown core?” The poll shows 53 percent of the responses were, “What downtown?”

In my opinion, social media and online shopping may appear to make a core downtown appear antiquated. We can all sit at home, watch 1000 channels of TV, communicate via social media, shop online, buy food online and then go to a strip mall in case of emergency. But where is the community? A downtown is not just a place to shop and eat. It’s about bringing a so-called “bedroom community” together. A true core downtown should be a place where I can:

1. Park in one safe place

2. Safely stroll through walkways 24/7

3. Stop to admire unique trees and shrubs

4. Stop to admire water attractions

4. Stop to admire the local art and take pictures

5. Meet friends

6. Invite people from other neighboring cities to meet me “downtown”

7. Shop and eat if I choose

8. Visit City Hall and maybe even chat with the mayor

9. Visit a Federal Way Police Department substation and chat with an officer

10. Visit a South King Fire & Rescue substation and chat with a firefighter

Sadly, I just might be a dinosaur, but I didn’t expect Federal Way to evolve into more bedroom communities and strip malls. Do our city planners really expect to attract new residents to a city that can only boast affordable housing?

Roegner commented that “we never planned a traditional downtown,” and I’m sure that is very true. But the general paradigm is to set your goal, establish your plan, and finally define the tasks to carry out your plan. It’s never too late to change any of these.

I also saw several comments boasting how we have made Federal Way so diverse. Does that matter if nobody every comes out of their homes?

John Donhauser, Federal Way

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