With the holiday season upon us and 2018 approaching, it is a good time to reflect on what has happened this past year and what we wish and hope the new year will bring. While there is much to celebrate, here are some of our wishes and hopes for Federal Way and its residents therein.
• With word that the city of Madras in north central Oregon is actively pursuing a craft brewery, we wonder what the opportunities are for such an establishment in our city of about 98,000 residents. Madras, with its population approximately 6,729 as of 2016, is a small blip on the map, and yet thousands of people flocked to the city in 2017 for the solar eclipse. Now, according to a Dec. 9 Seattle Times article, city residents and officials want to capitalize on the growing craft brewery industry, even though nearby Bend is somewhat of a hub for such establishments, with over 20 for a city of 91,000. According to the Brewers Association for Small and Independent Craft Brewers, craft beer sales grew in volume by 6.2 percent in 2016, making up 12.3 percent of the U.S. beer market. Craft beer retail sales represent $23.5 billion of the overall $107.6 billion U.S. beer market.
If Madras residents and officials aren’t discouraged by Bend having so many breweries, why shouldn’t Federal Way take some initiative as well in that area? Federal Way now has its own winery. We hope 2018 becomes the year Federal Way has its own craft brewery and we wish city officials would seriously consider pursuing such a possibility. We happen to know of acreage in a beautiful setting for such an establishment, and surely Industrial Realty Group wouldn’t mind if a small chunk of the former Weyerhaeuser campus was used for a craft brewery if the price were right? We hope so.
• Speaking of economic development and promoting industries that will positively contribute to Federal Way, we hope city officials will re-open discussions on the city’s brand, but instead of developing a logo to stamp on everything, the city should first answer the question of what we want Federal Way to be known for. Answering this question should then help city officials identify what else could be done to accomplish that goal, thereby solidifying the city’s identity, while also offering a starting point for promoting and marketing the city.
• We wish the city will continue efforts to improve its existing infrastructure in a thoughtful manner. Regarding the area shaping up to be our downtown core, we hope city officials will continue to regularly communicate and work with Sound Transit to ensure the incorporation of Light Rail in Federal Way goes smoothly so the final plan reflects a vision that will suit both Sound Transit’s and the city’s purposes. To that end, we hope community members will share their thoughts and ideas with city officials — their hopes and wishes for the downtown. This is a major project in our city that has the potential to do a lot of good or a lot of bad, depending on how well people and agencies work together.
• While much discussion has taken place regarding the problem of homelessness and many efforts have been dedicated to helping those in need, we wish for a collective, multi-faceted plan of action in 2018. One way to do this is for city officials to follow through on creating a digital database of all the agencies and organizations currently providing services and identifying what those services are. That way, duplication of services, as well as gaps in what is being offered, can be identified and a streamlined plan of action can be produced to more effectively and efficiently help those in need.
We also wish for 2018 to be the year that a permanent homeless shelter opens in Federal Way. People complain about homeless encampments in commercial corridors or residential neighborhoods, or transients sleeping and loitering in areas they should not, but there is no place for them to go at night. The day center is wonderful, but there should be a nighttime shelter, as well.
• We also wish for continued and improved communication between every stakeholder, agency and organization in the community to address these and other issues affecting the community. This means everyone. Churches should keep talking to other churches, residents should talk to city officials, who should talk to business owners, who should talk to police officers, etc., so more relationships and partnerships can be formed to address common societal problems we are encountering like homelessness and opioid addiction. It will take involvement from everyone before we can truly start seeing positive impacts in our community.
• Lastly, we wish everyone a happy and safe 2018, filled with positivity, health and prosperity. Happy holidays.