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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Call To Order:


Chairperson Don Cohen called the meeting to order at 6:04 pm in the City Council Chambers of City Hall.


Roll Call:


Don Cohen; Chairperson, Tina Lanzinger, Fletch Waller; Vice Chairperson, Rita Moore, Liz Sanderson; Secretary, and Dan Grausz; Council Liaison (6:17) were present; and Elliot Newman was absent.


Staff Present:


Keith Kerner, Parks Superintendent

Deborah Alexander, Senior Admin. Assistant

Paul West, Parks Natural Resource Coordinator

Alaine Sommargren, Forest Steward




(1)           It was moved by Trustee Moore, seconded by Trustee Lanzinger, to:

Approve the minutes of March 12, 2009.

Motion passed 5-0




There were no public appearances.


Regular Business:


(I)         Reports About Earth Day Booth and Pioneer Park Kiosk – Fletch Waller


Trustee Waller reported that the Earth Day Booth, which we shared with Earth Corps, was a success. A number of families with kids attended.


The kiosk in Pioneer Park has been installed and looks good. Trustee Waller said that the kiosk was empty and he would like to see things posted and maps included.


Trustee Lanzinger reported spotting people harvesting plants and described her encounter with the police. She was asked by the police if there were signs posted, and she couldn’t think of a place where the rule was posted. She suggested we post a sign on the new kiosk stating that harvesting from the park is prohibited.


Chair Cohen suggested that staff might make a recommendation on potential locations for additional postings for “No Harvesting” signs, and perhaps follow up with the Mercer Island Police Department about enforcement. Paul West suggested that it might be a good idea to add in the no harvesting rule when the trail maps are updated.



(II)         National Wildlife Federation Habitat Certification – Rita Moore


Trustee Moore reviewed the application she filled out for the certification. Chair Cohen asked her to submit the application, per the Board’s previous action.


(III)        Summer Celebration! Booth – Don Cohen


Chair Cohen suggested that the Trust Board share a booth with Earth Corps again this year. Chair Cohen asked the Trustees if there were any volunteers to chair this project. Trustee Moore offered to pull together a plan, and Chair Cohen asked Deborah Alexander to put together a sign up list for staffing. Deborah agreed to distribute the sign up list.


(IV)       Laminated Root Rot in NE Quadrant – Paul West


Paul West gave a report on a tree that fell in March on a house bordering the NE quadrant. He and staff member Alaine Sommargren went out to the area to evaluate the problem. He discovered that the tree that fell had advanced laminated root rot. Ultimately it appears the only way to definitively identify which trees are infected is to cut them down. Paul suggested selectively cutting down the trees surrounding the fallen tree to determine how far the disease may have spread, to protect healthy trees and prevent damage to private property.   The staff proposal would be for a maximum of 12 trees to be cut.

Chair Cohen asked about the approximate cost of the project. Paul estimated it would cost roughly $1,000 and would be expensed out of the capital budget. He also asked about responsibility for notifying home owners about the activity, and required permitting for the work. Paul said he would check into the permitting issue, and would notify surrounding home owners of the work.


Council Liaison Grausz asked if after the first healthy tree is cut, would the other trees slated for cutting be re-evaluted based on findings. Paul West said his intention is to stop as soon as a healthy tree is found or a 12 tree limit is reached. He also asked how soon replanting can be done. Paul said that disease resistant types of trees could be planted in the fall. Council Liaison Grausz requested that the replanting be part of the project.


It was moved by Trustee Waller, seconded by Trustee Moore to:

Allow City staff to proceed with the selective removal of trees that may be infected with laminated root rot until either sound trees are detected or a 12 tree limit is reached, and include a plan for replanting with disease resistant trees in the fall.


Motion passed 6-0


(V)        Pioneer Park Fire Management Plan – Paul West


In 2003 the Trust Board adopted the Forest Management Plan which included the Fire Management Plan. Staff met with Fire Chief Tubbs to modify the language to the existing Fire Management Plan.


Paul noted a correction to the staff report. Under action items (page 12), #1 should read: “MI Fire will develop a list of basic hand tools that might be useful in a situation in Pioneer. Parks and Fire will work to implement a cache at station 92.”


Paul explained that the certification required for Mercer Island Firefighters to fight a wildland fire for longer than 1 hour is difficult to maintain, and the City does not see this as a priority. Paul explained that the City of Mercer Island has an interlocal agreement with Eastside Fire to assist one another with fires. Eastside Fire has firefighters that are certified to fight wildland fires for longer than one hour. The Department of Natural Resources does not appear to be a reliable source for firefighting in this case because they will not be able to respond to a need until the fire has been burning for 12 to 24 hours.


Chair Cohen suggested changing the wording on page 16 to read, “There is also the risk of fire extending outside the park boundaries into residential areas.” He also asked about adding the word “secondary” in front of trails on item #5.


Council Liaison Grausz asked Paul how much it would cost to cut the 2 new trails. Paul West suggested we might use volunteers and seasonal staff, which would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple thousand dollars. Council Liaison Grausz expressed his disinterest in putting in new trails. He stated that he’d rather see the money spent on something else like replanting.  Discussion followed, including expressions of reluctance to add new trails in Pioneer Park unless demonstrated as necessary.  Paul West noted that, although Chief Tubbs felt additional trails would be helpful in fighting some fires that might occur, he had not said it was essential. Votes were then taken on several motions that did not include putting new trails into Pioneer Park.


It was moved by Trustee Moore, seconded by Council Liaison Grausz to:

Approve the amendments to the Pioneer Park Forest Management Plan proposed by staff as revised to reflect revisions to the final sentence of section 23.3.


Motion passed 6-0


It was moved by Council Liaison Grausz, seconded by Fletch Waller to:

Endorse numbers 1-4 of the action items proposed in the staff report dated 5/14/09 with the correction to item 1 provided by Paul West.


Motion passed 6-0



(VI)       New Appointments to the OSCT and Thanks to Liz Sanderson– Don Cohen


Chair Cohen talked about two candidates that have applied for the upcoming vacancy, and opened up discussion about what kind of a candidate would be a good fit for the Trust Board. Trustees Sanderson and Moore commented that having a Trustee with children in the MI School District and with business experience would provide more diversity and useful background for the group. Trustee Newman is expected to be reappointed to his seat.


Chair Cohen expressed his gratitude on behalf of the OSCT for Liz Sanderson’s work as a Trustee. Liz stated her interest and willingness to continue working with the Trust Board on a project basis as requested. 


(VII)         Next Meeting – Don Cohen

The next meeting is June 11, 2009.  Trustee Moore will not be attending the meeting.



Adjournment: 7:45 pm





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