For several years, the City of Federal Way has encouraged potential economic development interests to locate here because our taxes were low. They paraded comparisons with tax structures in other cities to make the point.
Maybe it is time for a new message. Rather than aim at the business, why not tailor our approach to their employees?
If you weren’t raised here, what attracted you and why do you stay?
What do we have that is special and what would they gain by their company moving here? Sell the message that crime is down over the past five years. Don’t promote the message that we need more police because that feeds the urban myth that crime is a problem in the suburbs.
One company didn’t care about taxes or City Hall’s pitch. They relocated here because there was ample free parking for their employees. That is another selling point.
We have a good school district with teachers and administrators working cooperatively to make it even better. Despite my occasional prodding, both Lakehaven Utility District and South King Fire and Rescue do their jobs well. And even though I find policy actions at City Hall open to question, that’s politics, and the vast majority of city employees do an outstanding job, conduct themselves like professionals and deliver city services timely and with a smile.
We have more than 100 languages spoken here and a diverse population that demonstrates its pride of heritage and who would probably prefer to work closer to home rather than commute. Their infusion of food, history and culture brightens our civil discourse and is now reflected in our elections, as three of seven Federal Way City Council positions are people of color. So is one state legislator and so is the chair of the Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors. Women hold elected office and other positions of authority as deputy mayor, superintendent of schools, chair of the school board and CEO of the Chamber.
Even with some complaining about the new apartments and using a temporarily misplaced comprehension of urban planning, we have centered our density in downtown where easy access to mass transit will soon be available when Sound Transit arrives. That was the intent of the Growth Management Act, and leaders who went before us planned a good mix of transit, business and housing. We will have a downtown that you can live, work, shop and play in. We have the Performing Arts and Event Center, and while its cost will slow our progress in other areas, it will become a significant community asset in time. We need to attract investments by building up, not out. A new skyline should be in our future.
And if you move here, you and your employees will find wonders you didn’t know existed. Have you been to our most beautiful oasis at PowellsWood garden? Our park system provides an array of options such as Celebration Park and the Town Square Park. Although more pocket parks to serve residents in their own neighborhoods would help the younger children.
We need a multi-faceted approach to our homeless problem. City Hall will likely need to financially increase support for local non-profits such as Fusion, the Multi-Service Center, Reach Out, the Boys and Girls Club and others in their effort to support those in need. We have great community events to support their efforts. The MSC Crab Feed is a fun-packed evening, and Fusion’s annual celebration in August adds a notable touch of elegance while capturing the beauty of our shoreline at Dumas Bay. The Diversity Commission’s recent Flavor of Federal Way was a new venture that reached a cross-section of the community and should be continued. It adds another link to the schools and Chamber of connecting communities. The food was great! I added a couple of pounds I didn’t need.
We have housing for all populations and pocketbooks. We need to capture every piece of water access that we can and keep most of it for public use. With creative thought we can move the Redondo living-business concept up the coast. A significant number of our residents live on our many lakes. Our community was developed with Weyerhaeuser’s commitment to retaining the natural feel of the Northwest where whole neighborhoods hide behind trees and forests. Our future should promote more emphasis on neighborhood services for each distinct area, and to reduce our reliance on car travel, a circulator bus service should be added between neighborhoods and other destinations that connects with King County Metro and Sound Transit.
It’s not what we have, it’s what we can be! And we already have the message right here in front of us. We just need to fill in the pieces: “A total community, you’ll like it here.”
In a recent paid ad, under the guise of painting a full picture, Mayor Jim Ferrell actually substituted his opinion through several misleading statements on a column I had written regarding problems at City Hall this year. I always check my facts, consult with outside experts in city government, interview officials and provide an independent point of view that does not simply parrot the mayor.
I strive for accountability in our government officials and attempt to stimulate community thought. My column is intended to tell you what is really going on, not just what City Hall and its political spin want you to think is going on.
Two examples: The mayor said he has told me he has no plans sell Dumas Bay. That is accurate and I hope true. However, the column was speaking to a rumor from others whose memory was rekindled by the controversy of eliminating Centerstage Theatre from the budget. They recall Ferrell said he was against building the PAEC for several years and was opposed to the recent utility tax increase. He reversed his position on both shortly after his elections. That caused some residents to question his credibility on Dumas Bay.
Further, Ferrell’s justification for cutting Centerstage caught the attention of at least two online readers who disagreed with his interpretation of the contractual relationship between the city and Centerstage. His office agreed they were correct. There were other troubling comments in his opinion piece that I will respond to at another time. My column was an opinion, but it was also accurate.
Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.