Aerial photo of the fields and skate park near Steel Lake. The Federal Way City Council is seeking to relocate the city’s maintenance facility and previously considered removing the two baseball fields and skate park, in order to create space for the facility. Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda

Aerial photo of the fields and skate park near Steel Lake. The Federal Way City Council is seeking to relocate the city’s maintenance facility and previously considered removing the two baseball fields and skate park, in order to create space for the facility. Photo courtesy of Bruce Honda

Federal Way likely to abandon plan to remove 9 acres of park land

City looked at building new public maintenance facility at Steel Lake Annex

Federal Way appears poised to scrap the idea of building a maintenance facility on the Steel Lake Annex, a controversial plan approved on a narrow City Council vote last summer that would have required removing the skate park, two ballfields and about 9 acres of public land on the property.

The city had considered the Steel Lake Annex property for its Operations and Maintenance Facility in the first place because “it’s property we already own,” Mayor Jim Ferrell said in a phone interview. Initially, the city expected to save around $800,000 to $1 million per year, for the next 20 years, by using the area.

But the city “did our due diligence,” Ferrell said, and confirmed what they had heard from concerned citizens, including at prior council meetings: Federal Way would have been required by the National Park Service to replace every acre of park space removed at the Annex with new park space.

“We’d have to come up with 11 new acres of park land, starting now,” Ferrell said. Recent additions like Town Square Park couldn’t count retroactively to that obligation.

When Federal Way was incorporated 33 years ago, city staff hadn’t recorded that obligation for the land, so it didn’t come up a few years ago when Ferrell’s staff first reviewed the land requirements, he said.

Without any financial savings from pursuing the location, Ferrell said there’s no longer any will on the council or desire from the city to choose the location.

“I think it’s safe to say at this point that we are no longer going to be pursuing … the Steel Lake Annex (as) the preferred site for the Operations and Maintenance Facility,” Ferrell said.

While Ferrell is confident the city would have discovered this snag in the plan either way, he said public response did play a role in the decision.

“We work for the public,” he said. “We always listen to the people we work for. … I do think they had an impact. They got us to this information and drew more attention on to it more quickly.”

The current O&M facility, which houses city trucks, tractors and other heavy equipment, sits on a 4.1-acre site at 31130 28th Ave. S. The building is falling apart and is prone to break-ins, and is not safe for city employees anymore, according to the city.

The city had its eye on the Steel Lake Annex, located across from the existing facility, in 2020, in part because the skate park was seen as “underutilized.” The council approved the spending of $250,000 in a council meeting last July to advance a preliminary design of the new O&M facility there, with plans to finish the facility in 2025.

That design work will still be useful wherever the facility is located, Ferrell said.

“No money has been wasted,” Ferrell said.

Dozens of Steel Lake area residents pushed back against the idea during the public comment period that meeting.

The council will now likely consider either expanding the O&M facility to the north, which would require acquiring some houses on private property, or moving the operation to the wooded northeast intersection of First Avenue and South 320th Street. Expect to see the matter come up at the March 7 city council meeting.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

t
17-year-old found shooting Orbeez gel balls at Federal Way students

Federal Way Police are unaware of any connection between several cases involving the toy guns.

t
Renton community safety forum targets crime stats, domestic violence

Renton Police chief says when he first started it was rare to have a firearm incident on the street

Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times / Pool
Jeffrey Nelson at his trial May 16.
Jurors continue to hear testimony in murder case against Auburn officer

Jeffrey Nelson is the first officer in Washington to face a murder charge following the passage of I-940.

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO
Maple Valley day care employee charged with sex offenses

Federal Way man was employed at Discovery Playtown

t
Man killed by sheriff’s deputies in Auburn identified

Multiple shots fired during May 24 eviction

Chris Reykdal
State superintendent of schools says student privacy won’t diminish

Chris Reykdal: Federal protections for privacy remain despite state’s new parental bill of rights

State Capitol in Olympia. FILE PHOTO
Hundreds of new laws will take effect in state June 6

Legislature approved changes in police pursuits, parental rights, firearms and other laws

A Sound Transit fare ambassador checks with a light rail rider. COURTESY PHOTO, Sound Transit
Fare inspections at Sound Transit Link stations begin June 3

Passengers will need proof of payment within fare paid zones at boarding areas

Jeffrey Nelson at his trial May 16, 2024. (Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times / Pool)
Murder trial begins for Auburn Police officer Jeffrey Nelson

First officer in Washington to face a murder charge following the passage of Initiative 940.

Men serving halal food on Eid Mubarak 2024. Photo By Joshua Solorzano/Federal Way Mirror
Washington state passes Halal Food Consumer Protection Act

Federal Way Muslim activist details how this bill came about and why it is important