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Open Space Conservancy Trust - Minutes     
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Call To Order:


Chairperson Don Cohen called the meeting to order at 6:02 pm in the City Council Chambers of City Hall.


Roll Call:


Don Cohen, Chairperson, Peter Guyer; Vice Chairperson, Kris Kelsay, Tina Lanzinger and Elliot Newman were present. Dan Grausz; Council Liaison, and Bob Thorpe were absent.


Staff Present:


Bruce Fletcher, Parks & Recreation Director

Keith Kerner, Parks Superintendent

Alaine Sommargren, Forest Steward

Deborah Alexander, Senior Administrative Assistant



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

Approve the minutes of May 13, 2010.

Motion passed 5-0




There were no public appearances.


Regular Business:


(I)             Meet New Trustees – Don Cohen


Chair Cohen asked new Trustee, Kris Kelsay, to tell the Trustees a little about herself. He also announced that the other new Trustee, Bob Thorpe, was not able to attend the meeting but would be attending the next meeting.


(II)         Letterboxing Update – Elliot Newman


Trustee Newman reported that the Letterboxing event took place during the month of June with about 115 participants. He recognized the important contributions of Alaine Sommargren, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Boy and Girl Scouts. Awards were presented on the Sunday of Summer Celebration. All participants received a t-shirt and several other awards were presented for several categories. The program received donations from Holland America ($1,500), Rotary Club ($200) and Kiwanis ($500) for a total of $2,200 in contributions. Expenses totaled $2,180.  There were expressions of appreciation for the donations.


A review meeting will take place in September to evaluate the first year of the program and look at the possibility of continuing it in the future.


Chair Cohen asked if any articles were published about the event. Trustee Newman said there was one that was published before the event, but not after. Trustee Lanzinger suggested sending out thank you notes for the sponsors with a summary of the event. She offered to write those notes on behalf of the Open Space Conservancy Trust board.  Trustee Newman agreed to provide the information needed.


Keith Kerner reported that staff recently met to debrief on the program. There were between 200-250 staff hours committed to the Letterboxing program in 2010, which is difficult for the Natural Resources team to support. He mentioned that staff would like to continue to support the program, but would require more help from volunteers.


(III)        Moore Appreciation – Don Cohen


      Don Cohen expressed appreciation for Rita Moore’s lengthy and dedicated service on the Board.


It was moved by Trustee Newman, seconded by Trustee Lanzinger, that:

The Open Space Conservancy Trust expresses its deep appreciation on behalf of the citizens of Mercer Island for the creative and sustained commitment of Rita Moore in her service as a member of the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board.  Rita has been an inspiration for the preservation of the treasured resource of Pioneer Park in her service not only as a member of the Board and its Chair, but also in her unwavering dedication to Mercer Island’s natural spaces.  Rita spearheaded the Trust’s community environmental education efforts at Summer Celebration booths and with docent walks in Pioneer Park. Rita’s expertise on native plants and ecosystems has positively informed board discussions and Parks policy.  Rita has been a true pioneer in the community in all things environmental, leading the way not only in civic bodies and community forums, but with boots on the ground in pulling ivy and planting trees.  Parks Department staff, the Trust and the community at large will continue to seek out Rita’s expertise and feed off her passion for environmental stewardship.


Motion passed 5-0


Rita Moore expressed a willingness to continue docent walks. She also pointed out that there were several plants on the Kiosk Area designs that are not native to western Washington and/or unsuitable for the location. Alaine Sommargren responded that she is aware of this and will be reviewing the plant list provided by the landscape architect. Rita Moore also said she is willing to help with the reprinting of Pioneer Park – A Natural History.


Chair Cohen asked staff how the Trust Board could use Rita to continue the Docent Walk program. Bruce Fletcher responded by saying we would get Rita set up as a volunteer and appoint a staff member to assist with scheduling and posting announcements. City staff presented Rita Moore with a gift from the City for her service.


(IV)                                                  Engstrom Transfer Update/North Star Update– Bruce Fletcher, Keith Kerner


Bruce Fletcher apologized for not notifying the Trustees about the topic that came before City Council recently. The City Council officially transferred the management of the Engstrom Open Space to the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board. Staff will work toward bringing Engstrom Open Space up to the standard of Pioneer Park.


Vice Chair Guyer asked staff about the responsibility of the Trust Board in regards to Engstrom Open Space from this day forward. Keith Kerner informed the Trustees that Engstrom Open Space would now be inclusive in any discussions and/or decisions made about Pioneer Park and its management. Staff will work with existing funds to maintain both properties. Chair Cohen asked if staff would speak with the City Attorney about potentially changing the name of the property, and still keep the Engstrom name in respect to the donation of the property. Staff agreed to look into this possibility.


Keith Kerner reported that Paul West looked into some grants to acquire 5 acres of the North Star Property adjacent to Engstrom and Pioneer Park. A survey and an appraisal were performed. The appraiser felt that the property was too expensive given the resources the City had to acquire it. Paul then looked into acquiring the 25 feet adjacent to Engstrom as an open space buffer, and pursuing an easement at the bottom of the property so the trail could exit onto E Mercer Way more safely. Paul has a meeting scheduled with the RCO (Recreation and Conservation Office) tomorrow to request the remaining money required to make the purchase. He already has secured a grant from the King County Conservation Futures ($500,000). Bruce Fletcher gave some recognition to Paul West for his work applying for these grants.


The Trustees asked questions about the location of the property and requested to be kept updated on the status.


(V)                                                   Kiosk Area Design – Keith Kerner


Keith Kerner reported that Paul West worked with a Landscape Architect to come up with two design options that are in the staff report. He reviewed the design goals considered in the design process.


Chair Cohen asked for clarification on a few items including eliminating incidental trails and the construction budget. Trustee Kelsay questioned the use of a picnic area in the designs. She pointed out that this is not included in the design goals. She suggested a circular seating area where groups could convene. Trustee Lanzinger reminded staff about the equestrian access through that area, and asked that staff keep this in mind during the process.


The Trustees formed a task force consisting of Trustees Lanzinger, Guyer and Newman to continue exploring the project. Keith Kerner will contact the subcommittee members for a site visit.


(VI)                                                  Next Meeting – Don Cohen


The September 9th meeting falls on Rosh Hashanah, and will therefore either be cancelled or rescheduled depending on need. Deborah Alexander will contact the Trustees to determine the best time.



Adjournment: 7:05 pm


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