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Veterans Memorial Garden of Puget Sound needs a site
The Federal Way School Board unanimously approved a decision to let Superintendent Rob Neu negotiate the placement of the Veterans Memorial Garden of Puget Sound on district property in the near future.
During the board's Dec. 11 meeting, Federal Way City Councilman Bob Celski, along with Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation director Mike Stanley, were on hand as part of the veterans garden steering committee. Both took the time to describe their vision for this project.
"We know that Federal Way lacks a place to recognize veterans," Celski said, "but, what Federal Way as a community does have is a great location."
By location, Celski meant Federal Way's central placement between the military installations that dot the Puget Sound, and other related veterans facilities, such as Veterans Administration hospitals.
"Our vision is to provide a destination, a place that's a destination for the entire Puget Sound region," Celski continued. "We want to make a very special place, worthy of our veterans, but incorporate more than just that. We also want to have it as a place to educate our youth and community, and of course inspire patriotism and a sense of service to everybody that comes."
Stanley is known for his work with the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation, which has built gardens at other Federal Way schools in recent years. Stanley explained his vision for the veterans garden.
"We've got a place for the people who have gone before us, and a place for those still here, to receive therapy, and give back to the community," he said. "If we combine those two (a teaching garden for students and a memorial for veterans), now we've got something great for the veterans, and for the schools, the kind of garden we're talking about here will be a tremendous asset for the district."
Stanley shared a conceptual sketch of what might be done with the land that surrounds the existing community garden at Truman High School. In the sketch, Stanley shared ideas about a large entrance to the garden, with a common area in the middle that could hold 200 to 300 people for veterans remembrance holidays. The concept sketch contained a therapy garden for veterans, and would also include a separate area for each branch of the military.
Neu said he liked the idea, but prefers the idea of placing the garden at Federal Way High School, instead of at Truman High School.
"With the new rebuild of Federal Way High School…I think we have a wonderful opportunity to put this regional memorial garden at Federal Way High School," he said. "I think with the new Federal Way High School, and (FWHS) Memorial Stadium, I think this is a great location, educationally, regionally, and for the community."
The two sides will continue to talk, as the members of the veterans garden steering committee continue to solidify the non-profit status of their organization. Celski said the group plans on becoming a 501-c3 in the near future, and that they would eventually be in charge of the garden. For now, the Federal Way Kiwanis Club will be the go-to organization on the project.
(Pictured: A conceptual sketch of the Veterans Memorial Garden of Puget Sound, and what might be done with the land that surrounds the existing community garden at Truman High School.)
To learn more about the proposed Veterans Memorial Garden of Puget Sound, or the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation, contact Mike Stanley at firstname.lastname@example.org.