Federal Way City Council members signed off on the construction of a new maintenance facility, saw the promotion of the Federal Way Police Department’s newest police commander, and honored “American Idol” singer Iam Tongi at their meeting March 21.
The city and council proclaimed March 21 to be “Iam Tongi” day in Federal Way, honoring Tongi’s hard work, love for his father and dedication to pursuing his dream in music.
Tongi thanked the council and spoke briefly before performing “Courage” for the city council and gathered public.
“I’m not really special,” he said. “I just have that platform. I just want to say to everyone out there, do what you love.”
His next appearance on “American Idol” airs in two weeks.
Council member Erica Norton was excused from the meeting. There was a medical emergency near her residence, Mayor Jim Ferrell said, and she stepped in to help deliver a baby.
Maintenance facility will expand north
On Tuesday, the city council unanimously approved the plan to expand and rebuild its dilapidated maintenance facility site northward.
The city had previously considered the Steel Lake Annex area to build a replacement for its crumbling operations and maintenance facility. The city already owned the property, and so expected to save several million dollars using the area, though the idea was criticized by residents who used and loved the park.
But legal obligations raised in public comments and confirmed by city staff made the idea untenable. Mayor Ferrell indicated during the council’s Feb. 23 meeting that the city and council weren’t interested in the site anymore, after community members and a Seattle Times story in January highlighted financial snares associated with using the site. Ferrell said the city would have discovered the incompatibilities either way, but credited members of the public for bringing the information to them.
The matter came before the council at their March 7 meeting to pick between two other options, and the council made a preliminary choice to expand the existing facility to the immediate north. The site will also need leveling and will require the city to acquire a larger number of parcels. They confirmed that choice with their vote Tuesday.
Federal Way PD’s newest commander
The council and mayor held a promotional swearing in for FWPD officer Kyle Buchanan, who was promoted from Lieutenant to Commander. Buchanan attended with his family and wife, who pinned his badge.
Buchanan has more than 24 years of law enforcement experience, said Police Chief Andy Hwang. Buchanan has been an incident commander for hundreds of critical incidents, Hwang said, and in 2014, received the Medal of Valor from the department.
In 2015, Buchanan and three other FWPD officers received the Medal of Honor from Gov. Jay Inslee for their actions saving multiple lives during a situation in which officers were confronted by a man armed with a shotgun who fired on officers. In 2018, he received a Medal of Distinguished Service award for saving lives of SWAT officers who had confronted an armed suspect inside a home.
The role of commander is directly below deputy chief, which is the second-highest position in the chain of command at the department. Chief Hwang oversees the department.
Wild Waves owners request changes to city agreement
In their consent agenda, council members also agreed to an amendment in their agreement with the owners of the Enchanted Parks property on the southeast side of town, better known as Wild Waves Theme and Water Park.
The owners of the theme park asked for an extension to their agreement to plan for new and improved rides, and for more flexibility in what they can do with the property in the future.
The changes extend the length of their agreement with the city to last roughly 15 more years to 30 years, which, in a letter to the city, the owners said would help the park operator invest in planned new rides and improved facilities.
They also asked the city to expand the allowed uses on the site — granting the ability to use the property for a hotel or warehouse / distribution center down the line. Currently, only five of the roughly 66.5 acres are zoned to allow a future hotel.
The park ownership said Enchanted Parks “fully supports the park’s continued operation.” However, the park’s closure in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic “forced the applicant to acknowledge” the inherent vulnerability to amusement parks to natural disasters like earthquakes or pandemics and to “consider a possible future use.”
“Updating these use provisions now” would make it easier to change the property from a park to something else and reduce the down time the property would sit idle, the park owners said.
The Mirror reached out to property owner EPR for more details but hadn’t heard back by press time.
Also on Tuesday, the council held a first reading on, and unanimously voted to forward, a bill to make amendments to the city comprehensive plan, including a rezone of a property at 1600 S. 304th St., aka the Rivera site, from professional office to community business.