Letters to the Editor

Public safety, traffic first; then city hall

By the tone of March 5’s City Council meeting, it would seem that a majority of the council members have lost sight of their electorate’s priorities. Somehow, the years-old commitment to build a new police station has morphed into an emergent need to build a city hall.

The need for a new police station with adjoining court facilities is well-understood and supported by most citizens. However, the city has failed to clearly communicate why we must undertake a significant expenditure for a city hall.

Times are tight. Is the city hall really a level-one priority? If the city perceives it to be, they have not made a strong enough case for it to the taxpayers.

What is the long-term growth need in terms of office space required for city operations? How much square footage is in the present facility, and how much is projected in the future? Is a whole new facility warranted?

For those who insist it must be in the city core, your viewpoint has not been validated. No one has come forward with compelling data that shows that any city in the United States, of comparable population, has netted a significant increase to economic growth by merely moving a city hall location.

What will impress prospective developers is not the location of city hall, but whether or not their clients will be sitting in stop-and-go traffic on Peasley Canyon Road or State Route 18 trying to get to Federal Way.

A disturbing revelation from the council meeting is that there are council members who believe minimal public input on this decision is warranted. These members believe that such a good job was accomplished with the downtown revitalization plan that this justifies restricting public input.

The fact of the matter is most citizens have elected to turn the other cheek and be silent about the city’s recent revitalization efforts. This should not, in any way, be construed as a vote of confidence.

The decorative Disneylandish lampposts lining 320th look nice, but they provide inadequate lighting, thereby necessitating the need to keep the old, tall light standards awkwardly looming in the background.

The citizens were told they were getting a waterfall‚. This invoked visions of a design that incorporates natural landscaping indicative of the area. Torrents of water rushing down boulders, perhaps? Instead, a bland tile wall with a thin veil of water was installed. Our waterfall is more reminiscent of a men’s urinal in a train station than a south King County babbling brook.

These public follies can be overlooked. But not the city hall. This project will be the largest monetary outlay of city taxpayer money to date.

The city needs to keep the two projects separate. Work the immediate need now. Provide our officers with a first-class public safety facility. In regards to the city hall, work to your real needs. What is the projected growth in terms of additional floor space that is over and above the current facility? Do not play the developer enticement card to justify a move to the city core. You have not proved your case on that one.

Please keep focused during your deliberations. Public safety first, traffic mitigation second, city amenities third.

Larry Paterson

Federal Way

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