A Federal Way church wants to stop the train.
The public comment period ended on April 19 for the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) of Sound Transit’s light rail Operations and Maintenance Facility South (OMF).
Sound Transit narrowed down the OMF South considerations — which is where 144 light rail trains go for cleaning, storage and maintenance — to three final options: the Midway Landfill in Kent, and South 336th Street and South 344th Street in Federal Way.
Wherever selected, the OMF site would operate 24 hours a day, all year round, and provide 470 living wage jobs.
On March 5, Sound Transit released the draft, prepared in compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), to inform the public, tribes, government agencies and decision makers about the alternatives and environmental consequences of the OMF South site.
The two Federal Way OMF site alternatives could potentially uproot dozens of businesses, including local megachurch Christian Faith Center. The church is located at 33645 20th Ave. S., and the OMF South site could remove half, or all, of the church’s campus with either of the listed alternatives.
“CFC would prefer to not be any alternative for the OMF South Project,” according to an April 19 letter from attorney Brian Lawler of Seattle-based Jameson Pepple Cantu PLLC specialty law firm.
The church was founded in 1980 and bloomed at its current campus in the early 2000s. In recent years, Christian Faith Center has come under fire for reports of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation, the Mirror reported in 2018.
“Ever since CFC’s Campus has been identified as a potential site for the OMF South Project, CFC has essentially been ‘stuck’ in place and time,” the letter reads. Lawler adds that CFC has halted the planning and implementation of additional projects and “cannot grow and expand its ministry,” with either of the alternative sites, if selected.
In terms of relocation, the letter notes removal of the campus would leave CFC members without a spiritual “home.”
The letter also notes, if the South 344th Street alternative becomes the final site, that Sound Transit’s assessments of a partial removal of the campus “incorrectly assumes that the current site could be severed or bifurcated and somehow CFC could continue to operate on the remainder parcel,” it reads.
Sound Transit’s mainline is a principal track connecting stations to OMFs. For Federal Way, the mainline is set to be built as part of the Tacoma Dome Link Extension and will be constructed regardless of which OMF site is selected, the draft states.
On behalf of the business community, the Greater Federal Way Chamber of Commerce has urged Sound Transit to “determine the OMF South site based on what is most favorable to new and existing economic opportunities in our area,” according to an April 19 letter from Chamber CEO and President Rebecca Martin.
The Chamber asked Sound Transit board members to consider the creation of permanent living wage jobs, minimum business displacement, and environmental issues, among others, when making their decision for the OMF South site.
The Sound Transit board will select a site as a preferred alternative for the final EIS in late 2021.