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Performing arts center letter full of misinformation | Letter

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It is disappointing when someone writes a letter full of misinformation and makes charges based on that. Marie Adair’s July 16 letter is full of erroneous statements in her “City should be ashamed of gimmick to fund performing arts center.”

First, she obviously doesn’t understand the New Market Tax Credit funding. Congress has nothing to do with what projects are funded. They fund specialized financial institutions called Community Development Entities that provide funding to the projects. The Performing Arts and Conference Center project was not “ready” for this first set of allocations this year.
Community Development Entities favor projects with construction permits issued and for which the shovels are literally suspended inches above the ground in readiness to move forward. We weren’t quite to that point.
It was not unexpected that we might not receive funds on this first go-round. There will be allocations available later this year from Community Development Entities with remaining funds, based on earlier commitments that didn’t materialize.
With the demolition of the former Toys R Us building and the planned ground-breaking in September, we will be “ready” and can hope to compete for those funds. If the funds are not forthcoming in the fall, the city will seek New Market Tax Credit funding for next year’s cycle, when we will be well underway, more than just “ready.” These are scarce resources but they are definitely worth applying for.
She is again incorrect in stating that the city shouldn’t apply for Community Development Block Grants for the performing arts center. While a maximum 15 percent of those funds may be used for human services, and up to 20 percent for administration, that leaves a healthy 65 percent earmarked for community and economic development.
The performing arts center is just the kind of project that fits that description; it will enhance and improve the whole area, provide jobs during construction and at the facility, plus benefit restaurants and other businesses in the area. The project will help Federal Way become a destination city.
Use of block grants for the performing arts center would still leave more than half of the 65 percent available for other community and economic development projects.
Ms. Adair predicts inevitable new taxation, yet the detailed funding plan has been studied by experts (including the Blue Ribbon Panel) who agree it will be unnecessary. Her opinions are totally negative, without any foundation.
She is wrong again about the city constructing Dumas Bay Centre. It was already in existence as a Visitation Retreat Center. The city was able to purchase it with a combination of state and county grants, at a remarkably low price, because the Sisters of Visitation did not want to sell it to developers.
The Dumas Bay Centre is currently doing very well financially, attracting many retreats, meetings, weddings, small conferences and non-profit functions. It is also a beautiful waterfront park that many enjoy visiting. It contributes to the quality of life here. The Knutzen Family Theatre, remodeled from the original chapel, is managed by Centerstage, but any other organization or individual that utilizes it pays rental fees.
Another misstatement, that “local arts groups who were friends of city leaders felt no need to pay rent.” All paid the fee. Centerstage is deadbeat? Obviously, Ms. Adair has not attended the fine variety of offerings there.
And Dumas Bay Centre was never “pitched as sure-fire magnets for commerce and prosperity.” It was an opportunity to own an incredible piece of property, and enlarge on its usage and value to the city.
She focuses on the theater aspect of the performing arts center without recognizing the great potential of the conference center space. A long list of activities that can finally be held in Federal Way is already compiled, and there have been inquiries from touring companies (travel presentations, political events, hobby shows, science fairs, etc.) wondering when the facility will be available.
While anyone is welcome to an opinion, it is disheartening to read those consisting of untrue suppositions. For those of us who have been involved for years, we are dedicated to offer the facts, donate our time and, yes, our money to this project, even if Ms. Adair thinks private money is stupid.
Please check out the website www.federalwayPACC.com for additional information.
Joann Piquette, Federal Way

 

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