Iwas visiting some friends in Bellevue recently and the topic of where I lived came up and the person I was talking to said: “I have never been to Federal Way. I guess I have driven through the city on my way to Portland. So what is in Federal Way?”
Great question. If you live in Federal Way, do you have your 30-second elevator speech ready to go about what makes this city great? Would the name of our three major gardens roll off your tongue? The Rhododendron Species Botanical Gardens, Weyerhaeuser Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection and PowellsWood are gardens of stature and worth mentioning.
Maybe your first thought would be Wild Waves. This venue is the best outdoor water park in the region. It is what some non-residents have mentioned to me when I tell them I live in Federal Way. For swimming and diving enthusiasts you already know this city has a world-class natatorium. The Weyerhaeuser/King County Aquatic Center has hosted Olympic swimming and diving trials as well as numerous National Collegiate Athletic Association events.
If you are a camper and lover of the waters of Puget Sound would you talk about Dash Point State Park? It is well used most summer days based on the parade of campers and cars loaded with kayaks or boats traveling down 320th Street.
This city hosts a lot of athletic events at its Celebration Park sports complex. It is a local treasure and the scene for top-notch amateur baseball and soccer leagues and championships. It also connects with the BPA Trails System, which walkers, joggers, cyclists and skaters use frequently as a quality place to exercise or enjoy the view of Mount Rainer on a clear day.
In 2007 the City added the Community Center, which is a top-drawer recreation facility. It has the largest public recreation pool in the state and its feature element is a two-story indoor waterslide. This is a full service recreation complex with lap and leisure pools, athletic gyms, a fitness center, climbing wall, and indoor track. It also has rooms for meetings, parties, classes and community events.
While I mentioned some of those facilities to my friend, it was easier to let them know that Federal Way is the hometown of Olympic short track speed skaters, Apollo Ono and J. R. Celski. Name-dropping of hometown celebrities seems to provide cache.
Because the person I was conversing with was an arts appreciator I should have talked about the Dumas Bay Center with the Knutzsen Theater and its repertory company, Centerstage. In the future we will have the Performing Arts and Conference Center to increase this city’s presence and destination quality.
It is fair to say that we have holes to fill to become well rounded in our cultural focus. This city is anemic in its visual art offerings, galleries, hands on art and music education for all ages, and coffee house type performance space.
Federal Way appears to be on two tracks for recognition and destination opportunities — athletics and the arts. Athletics has a stronger infrastructure at the moment and there is room to grow based on our hometown Olympic short track speed skating celebrities getting their start in in-line speed skating at Pattison’s West. Think velodrome. This city is nationally recognized for in-line speed skating. Is this something we can build on?
As a city we have a quiet presence within the totality of this region. I know we can be a premier city. Our greatest potential is as a destination oriented city with opportunities that focus on place and purpose. But first, get your positive 30-second speech ready and help make it happen.
Keith Livingston: firstname.lastname@example.org.