Letters to the Editor

We're smarter about light-rail than Sound Transit thinks we are

I’m writing this knowing it won’t change a thing, nor will it matter one bit. However, I just cannot allow Sound Transit and its local honchos (think Jeanne Mary Gates Burbidge) to get by with the latest seeming transit hypocrisy.

The Mayy 18 Mirror had the breathless question, “Could light rail be the next big thing in Federal Way”? Like this is a new thought? Hogwash!

Shortly after Sound Transit took off on its initial excesses, (I believe 1996), I saw a map produced by the city titled “Lite-Rail.” Since it ran right down the back of the houses of my neighbors across the street, I thought I should get involved. I collected all the pertinent information, made copies and had a neighborhood meeting. After one of my more verbose neighbors called the powers-that-be and said “Over my dead body,” the map changed to angle over what is now Wal-Mart and sort of “off” toward Pacific Highway South.

Those maps were street-level railroad track drawings and were labeled lite-rail. All streets were named, and our houses were on the map.

I called the city engineer, Rick Perez, and asked for their newest map. He said, “If you want the map, you have to go to the Regional Library.” I did. The governmental librarian couldn’t find it and spent three days dealing with the Sound Transit contact in Seattle. She finally called me and said, “Clara, they know what I’m asking for. They said they have it and they said they would send it. However, I must tell you, I don’t think you’re going to get it.” I didn’t.

From then on, the words “lite-rail” were never used again in Federal Way by the City Council. There were flat denials that lite-rail was coming to Federal Way.

I also recall a certain activist, a Mr. Kaplan, and a supporter of pro-transit council persons, practically shouting in his council meeting speech, “There isn’t going to be a light rail!” I spoke before the council and told them they should stop dissembling with the citizens (even their supporters) and provide facts about what was going on. I was immediately surrounded by council members handing me phone numbers that I had already been calling. Worthless.

A city employee gave me the minutes to the meeting at which the transit site was selected. Of the 108 people who showed up for public input, they went with the five people who wanted the transit center where it is being built; 103 people didn’t want it there. Interesting, huh? And typical.

Everything about Sound Transit and, especially, their Federal Way cohorts has been deceptive. When they advertise their informational meetings, you will notice a long row of bullets listing things to happen at the meetings. Next time, be sure to notice the last bullet: Reason for meeting? Required by law. That’s the only reason the meeting is being held.

The point of this letter is in regard to the article stating “local leaders in Federal Way are looking at the light-rail possibility ... “ blah blah. Knock off the naive-sounding drivel and be honest with your constituents. They’re a great deal smarter than you think.

The downtown transit site being built was always to be a light-rail station. It seems we citizens are not very successful, because we can’t combat under-the-table politics and manipulation. However, we do indeed get to vote, and don’t think for a minute these kinds of actions are going to be forgotten in the voting booth.

CLARA McARTHUR

Federal Way

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