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Finding the responsible way to honor our veterans

Federal Way Mirror - 7/1/2018

By Jim Ferrell

Back in the fall of 2014 when we installed a 60-foot-tall flag pole in the median on 320th Street, we took the first step in remaking the look of the busiest thoroughfare in Federal Way.

A giant American flag immediately became a permanent part of the landscape of this community. To this day, it remains a towering symbol to those in our community and the many people who pass by Old Glory that we in Federal Way remember and honor each veteran's service.

In addition to the installation of the flag, we ceremonially renamed a significant section of 320th Street as Veterans Way.

It was then that I suggested officially renaming 320th Street, Veterans Way, from Military Road all the way to Hoyt Road, when the time was right. The official renaming would stand for future generations as a true reflection of our community at large and how it feels about military service to our country.

I believed the perfect complement to the renaming was to pair it with the 100th anniversary of the first celebration of Armistice Day in 2019, to honor the end of World War I.

With that timeline in mind, I presented the proposed 320th Street renaming plan at the June 16Flag Day ceremony in Federal Way. Although I had city staff generate an estimated cost for the project — about $75,000 of real estate excise tax funds, which can only be used for capital projects — it would have still needed to be approved by the City Council before we could proceed. We were also exploring private funding of this renaming.

However, in the days since news of the plan spread, I have received substantial feedback from residents with regard to the cost and priority hierarchy of such a project in our current budget climate. I want to personally thank everyone who reached out via email or through social media to express their thoughts on this matter.

With this feedback mind, I have decided to not move forward with the proposed street renaming and will not forward it to City Council for further consideration.

We are now going to take a step back and evaluate how best to acknowledge those we seek to serve, the community and those we seek to honor — our veterans.

That might mean assembling a group of local veterans, business owners and community members and brainstorming public places where some kind of space could be dedicated to those who served — perhaps Town Square Park, where we previously discussed this in the planning phases of the park.

By coming together, we can generate a vision and a plan that is in lockstep with the community, while at the same time exploring grants or private funding avenues.

One of my favorite quotes from John F. Kennedy is: "The nation reveals itself not only by the men and women it produces but by those it honors, it remembers."

I am passionate about our community and how we publicly honor those who have served our country.

Let us use this as an opportunity to come together, as a community, to honor our veterans and our nation.

At the same time, we remain committed to the core purpose and priority: To make this a safe and vibrant city.

Jim Ferrell is the mayor of Federal Way. He can be reached at Jim.Ferrell@cityoffederalway.com or 253-835-2402.


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