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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Call To Order:


Chairperson Don Cohen called the meeting to order at 6:08 pm in the City Council Chambers of City Hall.


Roll Call:


Don Cohen, Chairperson, Fletch Waller, Vice Chairperson, Liz Sanderson, Secretary, Tina Lanzinger, Elliot Newman and Rita Moore were present.  Council Liaison Dan Grausz was absent.


Staff Present:


Pete Mayer, Director Parks and Recreation

Paul West, Parks Natural Resource Coordinator

Mike Elde, Parks Superintendent

Glenn Boettcher, Maintenance Director

Katie Knight, Interim City Attorney

Deborah Alexander, Senior Admin. Assistant, were present.




(1)                 It was moved by Trustee Newman, seconded by Trustee Sanderson, to:

Approve the minutes of March 20, 2008.

Motion passed 6-0




There were no public appearances.


Regular Business:


(2)                 Resolution of Appreciation – Fletch Waller


It was moved by Trustee Sanderson, seconded by Trustee Lanzinger, to:


Adopt a resolution of appreciation to Rita Moore for her service as Chairperson to the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board. The following is the resolution:


Whereas Rita Moore, WSU Extension Watershed Steward, Extension Forest Advisor has invested her Washington Native Plant expertise and time in improving Mercer Island parks and open spaces; and


Whereas, for three years, she has chaired the Board of Trustees of the Mercer Island Open Space Conservancy Trust; and


Whereas she continues to crusade for healthy open green spaces in our community;


Therefore, the Open Space Conservancy Trustees, by this resolution, express their thanks to Rita Moore for her past and continuing service and dedication to Mercer Island and its citizens.


Motion passed 5-0, Trustee Moore abstained


Later in the meeting, it was moved by Trustee Newman, seconded by Trustee Lanzinger, to:


Modify the first paragraph of the resolution to read : “Whereas Rita Moore, WSU Extension Watershed Steward, Extension Forest Advisor and Washington Native Plant Society Native Plant Steward, has invested her Washington Native Plant expertise and time in improving Mercer Island parks and open spaces; and”


Motion passed 4-0, Trustee Moore abstained


(3)        Puget Sound Energy South End Reliability Project – Glenn Boettcher and Puget Sound Energy


At the request of Chair Cohen for a brief reorientation on this subject by a staff member, Maintenance Director Glenn Boettcher stated that after the storm of December 2006 many of the residents of the south end of the Island requested that the City look into possible solutions that would help prevent long power outages in the future. The City went to Puget Sound Energy to request ideas on what kinds of projects could be undertaken to improve reliability. The proposal that came back suggested the installation of a transmission loop from Island Crest Way to the substation that would run along a portion of the south side of the northwest quadrant of Pioneer Park along SE 68th Street.


Cody Olson of Puget Sound Energy introduced himself and other PSE staff present at the meeting, including Stan Harrelson, Vegetation Project Manager, Pete Casset, Dedicated Project Manager, and Carol Jaegger, Transmission Planning Engineer. Puget Sound Energy hired a company to do survey work on the site to provide data which was used to answer some of the questions the Trust Board generated at the November 2007 and January 2008 meetings. David Evans and Associates produced graphics to address the Trust Board’s request for visual representations. Cody Olson discussed the visual aids that PSE provided in response to the Trust Board’s questions.


Trustee Waller asked about a PSE companion project which will bury distribution lines along the north side of the southeast quadrant on SE 68th Street. He wanted to know roughly how much of a percentage of the outage problem this companion project would address compared to the transmission loop project being proposed to the Trust Board. Carol Jaegger did not have a precise figure, but explained that she believes there are more distribution outages than transmission outages. The companion project would help more often, but transmission outages impact a far greater number of people.


Chair Cohen read a prepared statement he wrote based on all data presented to date that reflects his thoughts and feelings regarding the project. Other questions were discussed, but the Trustees ultimately expressed that the answers to these questions would not change their minds about the project.


It was moved by Trustee Moore, seconded by Trustee Newman, to approve the following motion:


In the ordinance establishing the Open Space Conservancy Trust, the City Council found that it is in the best interests of the citizens of the City that certain open spaces be set aside and preserved for public use and enjoyment, and for their environmental, aesthetic, scientific, and educational value.  The Council further found that the City’s open spaces are a valuable and irreplaceable resource and urban amenity.  Pursuant to that ordinance and Trust Bylaws, the Trust is charged with the responsibility of protecting, maintaining, and preserving Pioneer Park.


Puget Sound Energy has proposed a project intended to improve electrical system reliability in the south end of the City, both as to major outages like the December 2006 storm and brief outages caused by trees, tree limbs, car-pole accidents, and other single events.  The Project proposed by PSE would require removal of the majority of the trees between 68th Street and the southernmost trail in the Northwest quadrant of Pioneer Park, running from Island Crest Way westward to a point across from the PSE substation.  The trees that would be removed total several dozen, many of which are very large and assist in shielding the Park, including a high-use trail, from the noise, congestion, and visual impacts of 68th Street traffic and the shopping center and electrical substation across the street.  The Project would also require installation of several tall support poles, wiring, and other electrical equipment along 68th Street and connecting across the street to the substation.  PSE estimates that had the Project been in place in December 2006, the outage could have been reduced in length by “approximately a day or so”.  PSE also anticipates that the Project would reduce single contact outages to under one minute.


The Trust Board has conducted a comprehensive review and analysis of the PSE proposal.  This has included discussion at a number of Board meetings, an on-site visit, presentations by PSE engineering, arborist, and other personnel, input from City staff, and review and consideration of PSE’s written report and other materials.


Based on this review, the Trust Board finds that approval of the proposed PSE Project would be inconsistent with the Trust’s fundamental purposes and the Board’s responsibilities.  Furthermore, although the Project is intended to provide some level of electrical system reliability improvement to the south end of the City, the Trust Board believes that the Project’s adverse impacts on Pioneer Park substantially outweigh its anticipated benefits.


Accordingly, the Board of the Open Space Conservancy Trust resolves not to approve the proposed PSE Project and strongly urges and recommends to the City Council that it not approve the Project.


Motion passed 5-0 (Trustee Waller had left the meeting due to another commitment).


(3)           Summer Celebration! – Rita Moore and Liz Sanderson


Trustees Moore and Sanderson will be working with EarthCorps to discuss some possibilities of collaboration for the Summer Celebration! booth.


Chair Cohen asked that the Trustees place the dates of Summer Celebration! on their calendars: July 12-13. He also asked Trustees Moore and Sanderson work with Deborah Alexander to work on a schedule for staffing the booth when the time comes.


(4)           Trails – Mike Elde


Mike Elde presented information on the annual services that the Parks Maintenance staff provides in Pioneer Park. There was discussion of the poor condition of some of the interior trails due to an excessively wet spring, and how to deal with the problem. Mike asked the Trustees if it might be possible to apply gravel in specific locations that have issues. He also said the plan does allow for laying gravel underneath the soil. It was noted by several Trustees that gravel-surfaced trails are noisier than trails with more natural surfaces, which can adversely impact the forest experience, including bird watching. Mike said they have been exploring options for raising the grade of some trails, which might help with drainage. He expressed a willingness and interest in testing out some ideas and bringing results and potential recommendations back to the Trust Board in the fall when the rainfall picks up and allows for testing.


(5)           Dog Waste Signage – Mike Elde


Mike Elde reported that signage was placed in Pioneer Park to request dog owners to pick up after their pets, and in less than one week all of them had been removed. Trustee Moore suggested contacting MI POLR to ask for their assistance in policing this problem for us. Mike Elde expressed a desire to try posting signage again. Trustee Lanzinger asked about adding an additional location for dog waste bags. Mike said the Parks Department has extra posts and bags, and that will be done at the northeast corner of the northwest quadrant. Trustee Newman suggested putting a small piece in the Weekly and/or Quarterly newsletter. Paul West asked about the possibility of fencing off areas where blackberry has been cleared to prevent dogs from going in and defecating. Paul feels this is a very poor condition for volunteers to be working in. Chair Cohen expressed concern about having fencing up for extended periods of time during heavy use months. Paul agreed to bring back some photos of what he had in mind for discussion at a future meeting.


(6)           Quadrant AssignmentsDon Cohen


Chair Cohen asked to reassign Trustees to quadrants for periodic checks of conditions and/or problems, including post-storm monitoring, that need to be reported to Paul West. Trustee Lanzinger offered to continue to report back on the southeast quadrant. Chair Cohen feels that Trustee Waller is probably willing to continue to take on the responsibility of the northeast quadrant, Trustee Newman offered to monitor the northwest quadrant.


(7)           Meeting CarpoolingDon Cohen


Chair Cohen suggested that, consistent with the environmental/ecological orientation of the Trust, Trustees make an effort to carpool to meetings when possible.


(8)           Next MeetingDon Cohen


Chair Cohen asked the Trustees if there were any known scheduling conflicts for the May 15th meeting. Trustee Moore stated that she may not be able to attend. Chair Cohen asked her to contact Deborah Alexander about it. Chair Cohen also requested that Deborah Alexander e-mail Trustee Waller and Council Liaison Grausz about their availability for the next meeting, and to notify Trustee Waller that his assignment to monitor the northeast quadrant continues.


Adjournment:   8:02 pm





Don Cohen, Chairperson







Deborah Alexander, Scribe




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