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Don’t put Federal Way PACC into political purgatory | Letters
On March 9, I was pleased to observe our Federal Way City Council in action at their planning retreat. My interest is from the perspective of an arts commissioner for this city and as a relatively new resident who believes in the positive impact that the arts can have on the whole community.
It is my opinion that the development of the performing arts and conference center (PACC) will create a new city center focus, grow the capability of the city’s performing arts groups, provide a gallery for visual artists and enhance the quality of life within Federal Way. Other major benefits include improving Federal Way’s identity within the region while positioning our city for residential and business growth.
At the retreat, I saw leadership provided by the mayor and his staff in a patient and professional presentation for the potential of the PACC to be a catalyst for improving several distressed properties, which the city owns, in the heart of Federal Way’s primary retail district.
The mayor expressed his support for the project and joining the mayor with support for the PACC are Councilmembers Dini Duclos, Bob Celski and Jeanne Burbidge. Collectively they articulated their concerns for the projected costs and funding challenges but gave their support and leadership to the PACC while stating they believed the project could be built without negatively affecting the city’s tax base. That is their stated goal and they presented a path of how to accomplish that goal.
The remaining four council members positioned their thoughts and comments differently. Susan Honda, Kelly Maloney, Diana Noble-Gulliford and Deputy Mayor Jim Ferrell chose the path of sitting on the fence with a strong undertone of negativity toward the PACC.
In my opinion it was a sad day for PACC supporters, especially for those who have worked in the background for 20 years or more to see their dream get to within inches of becoming reality, only to have the dream placed in political purgatory.
We all need to remember that a performing arts center was recommended in the city’s 1994 Cultural Arts Plan. It still is a city recommendation.
Most of the questions raised by the four council members appeared to have been asked and answered on previous occasions based on the responses provided by Patrick Doherty, the city’s economic development director. From my perspective, the concerns raised are minor and are designed to placate a specific audience.
If the council members raising concerns are doing so for political leverage and to improve the project, that is politics. But if they truly feel the project should not be built, I believe their actions say Federal Way is not open for growth or change. They also owe their elected peers and the citizens who have worked for years to see the PACC become a reality an explanation of why they do not want to go forward with this project and provide a vision of what they would do instead to improve Federal Way’s key entry gateway and critical retail district.
We all need to be aware that if council kills the PACC project, the taxpayers will get fleeced and see a real increase in their property taxes when they have to pay back $5 million to the state with interest. The state gave these funds to the city to build the PACC and the funds do not need to be repaid if the PACC is built. Let’s be a smart community, invest in our future and move the PACC forward.
Keith Livingston, Federal Way