The Federal Way City Council held it’s first study session regarding a new committee that would help direct an economic summit for Federal Way’s future that city officials hope to have happen by this fall.
Chief of Staff Brian Wilson outlined what this exploratory committee would need to ensure the planned economic summit is a fruitful venture for all involved.
“The idea is to promote an economic development summit,” Wilson said. “The purpose … is to initiate the process for the beginning of an economic development summit planned for the fall of 2014. The purpose would be to identify the mission, focus, strategy, process and outcomes that would come about from an initiative like this.”
Wilson outlined some of the basic questions the summit would likely be tasked to answer, including:
• What is desired in Federal Way’s downtown and the city as a whole, in the short and long-term?
• What are the market forces affecting Federal Way currently, and into the future?
• How can Federal Way position itself to capitalize on market opportunities?
• What is needed in Federal Way’s downtown, and the entire city, for growth and prosperity?
• Specifically regarding the summit, who should be involved?
• How would the city’s ongoing look at rebranding be incorporated into the summit?
• How can the city make sure Sound Transit is included in any future plans, considering the economic importance of the light rail extension?
• What is the development potential in Federal Way’s “core frame” and throughout the city?
Mayor Jim Ferrell reiterated the question before the Council on July 15, saying the goal for the initial meeting was to see “what the Council wants … in regards to the task force that we’re going to put together.”
“We anticipate two to three members of the City Council will be members [of the task force],” he added. “We’ll have representation by private citizens, the Chamber of Commerce and perhaps the school district.”
Ferrell hopes this particular task force would be able to produce results, such as the outcome with the Blue Ribbon Panel that was convened to study the Performing Arts and Conference Center. He added the plan is to “launch the task force” and “announce its membership by the second meeting in September.”
Councilwoman Dini Duclos agreed with the idea of a task force, but said she’d like greater Council involvement than the Blue Ribbon Panel.
“I appreciate the work and I appreciate the idea of a task force,” she said. “However, I do want the Council involved this time. We were cut out of the last one and it didn’t feel appropriate since we’ve been working on the downtown for so long … The Council needs to have representation on this committee.”
Ferrell agreed, saying the need for Council involvement was why “we didn’t just rush out and do another mayor’s panel.”
“In all candor, we could have easily done that, but it’s important that we link up arms and do this together,” he added.
Councilman Bob Celski agreed on the need for the preliminary task force.
“The composition of this thing is going to be critical, just like it was with the Blue Ribbon Panel, and we know the results that came out of that,” he said.
Some disagreement that arose during the July 15 discussion was whether there should be a deadline for the task force. Councilwoman Susan Honda said the city should take the time to “do it right,” while Duclos said a specified timeframe is an important component of the project at this point.
“We should take the time, but we should also have the deadline, we should be prepared and have everything ready for the committee so they can start working right away,” Duclos said.
According to Wilson, the second Council study session on this topic is scheduled for Aug. 12.