Letters: City’s park proposal is a bad idea; so is renaming Thomas Jefferson HS

Letters to the editor

We strongly oppose the proposal to convert the Steel Lake Park Annex into the city’s new Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF). We understand the city’s need for an adequate OMF. However, converting open park space into an industrial site is the wrong answer.

We have lived in Federal Way for more than 40 years. Over those years, we have watched as the city makes development decisions, both good and bad. This proposal is one of the really bad ideas.

The logic to build the facilities is correct: the existing facilities are clearly inadequate. However, the logic to use the Steel Lake Annex site is seriously flawed. As noted in the Federal Way Mirror article (Aug. 14), the reasons to use the site are:

1. The city already owns it;

2. It is centrally located; and

3. The park is currently underutilized.

There is no question the city can save money by using land it already owns. However, this decision is “penny wise and pound foolish” as the demand for open park land will increase with the expected population expansion. Any savings now will certainly be exceeded by the cost of having to buy new park property in the future. We need more parks, not less.

The point regarding the central location of the park is also a key reason to keep it. Centrally located parks get used. What is the alternative? Locate parks in remote areas that are difficult to access?

Finally, the claim the park is underutilized is curious at best. Little of the city’s attention has been focused on the park. We suggest that instead of destroying the park, the city should redevelop it and promote it like Celebration Park. Make it one of the central park facilities for Federal Way’s future.

The city should follow the lead of Federal Way Public Schools when it replaced the old bus barn on South 320th Street. The school district purchased an industrial site, avoiding any neighborhood conflicts.

Land values in our city continue to rise. It is cheaper for us (the taxpayers) to buy the required land now for the new OMF site than it will be to buy when land costs have substantially risen and we need more parks.

Chuck and Kelly Duffy

Federal Way


Thomas Jefferson High School name change

I am increasingly concerned about the discussions across the country that has now landed in our city of Federal Way with a proposed name change for Thomas Jefferson High School. If opinion starts to become policy, I would like to share three observations and opinions.

First, I disagree with ideas from both sides. No one is perfect, especially when comparing morals and ideals from different eras. Naming something after a person is not glorifying their weaknesses, but showing that people can have positive impact even if they are not perfect. I also believe that changing a name is not erasing history, but indicating a change in examples that society today wants to better emulate.

Second, in the idea of fairness and equality, if popular opinion goes against TJHS, should it also go against our state (named after George Washington, a slave owner), and our country (named after Amerigo Vespucci, a slave trader)? The picking and choosing of enforcing such a name change policy seems to be capricious, and against things being treated equally in the eyes of the government. If we are not changing those other names, why should the high school be forced to change?

Lastly, if there is a name change, I would strongly suggest an equal change across the district, so that school names are not named after people who can fall out of favor depending on the weaknesses that society deems distasteful at the time. This could be in line with other local school districts (Auburn, Kent). How about Central, East, West and South High schools? or Highway, EastRidge, OceanView, and Enchanted Village?

James Hedrick