Call To Order:
Chairperson Debbie Bertlin called the meeting to order at 6:02 pm in the City Council Chambers of City Hall.
Debbie Bertlin, Chairperson; Tina Lanzinger; Elliot Newman; Don Cohen; and Bob Thorpe, Secretary were present. Dan Grausz, Council Liaison arrived at 6:08. Peter Guyer, Vice Chair was absent.
Bruce Fletcher, Parks & Recreation Director
Paul West, Parks Natural Resource Coordinator
Justin Howell, Trails Specialist
Deborah Alexander, Senior Administrative Assistant
It was moved by Trustee Cohen, seconded by Trustee Thorpe, to:
Approve the minutes of March 10, 2011.
Motion passed 5-0
Liz Sanderson, 3985 92nd Pl SE, Mercer Island, WA 98040, representing the Farrington Foundation distributed the “rough cut” of the Pioneer Park video for the Trustees. She brought with her Susan McElroy, Office Manager of the Farrington Foundation. She delivered a plaque to Paul West in recognition of his service to Pioneer Park from The Farrington Foundation. She also noted a plaque was given to Trustees Newman and Thorpe at the preview of the movie for the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board. She distributed flyers for an event at the Olde Wine Store for the screening of the film on Pioneer Park on May 21st as well as a newsletter from the Farrington Foundation.
Ms. Sanderson reported that she and former Trustee Rita Moore were still working on the reprinting of Pioneer Park: A Natural History, but has been delayed for medical reasons.
Chair Bertlin thanked the Farrington Foundation for their work.
Letterboxing Update– Elliot Newman
Trustee Newman reported that the kickoff for the 2011 Letterbox Program will be on June 4th, and that there will be booths around the entrance off SE 68th toward the shopping center. There will be 50% old Letterboxes and 50% new Letterboxes, and the old ones will be registered with www.Letterboxing.org. Participants will receive a bracelet and booklet, and will have an opportunity to take a guided walk through the first site. Trustee Newman announced that they have two sponsors including Holland America (for their second year) and Starbucks who will be providing volunteers. Starbucks participation in this event makes the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department eligible for other grants from Starbucks. Local Starbucks will also be advertising Letterboxing events and may provide a service for signing up to participate. The Boys and Girls Club are producing the new booklet and a full color poster advertising the event.
Chair Berlin asked what the target age range is for the program. Trustee Newman stated K-8. Chair Berlin asked what the expected participation would be and Trustee Newman stated they expected 100. Chair Berlin asked what the expected budget would be and Trustee Newman replied that he anticipated the budget would be between $1,000 and $1,200.
Annual Report Update– Debbie Bertlin
Chair Bertlin announced that she attended the City Council Meeting about 1 ˝ weeks ago to deliver the Annual Report to Council. She stated that the main topics addressed were: interest in expanding audience, health of the forest and park, activities that addressed improved usability, and finally a commitment to responsible stewardship and management. She gave special thanks to Dan Grausz for his support on the Council and to Don Cohen for his service as Chair.
North Star/Stevenson Update– Bruce Fletcher
Bruce reported that he, Katie Knight and Paul West met with Ralph Jones (board member) and Gordon Nygard (President) of North Star to talk about the City’s interest in the property. They seemed willing and interested to continue the discussion, and did not exhibit any urgency to sell the property. The King County Conservations Futures $500,000 matching grant that was awarded does have a time restriction, however. Trustee Thorpe asked if the City needed to apply for an extension of the grant would it go to staff or the King County Council. Staff offered to find the answer to the question.
Bruce reported that the Stevenson property is on the market. Council Liaison Grausz reported that he didn’t expect that there is enough support on the Council to consider a Bond to raise the funds to purchase it. Trustee Lanzinger reported that all of the horses that were boarded on the property have been placed.
Council Liaison Grausz stated that there might be enough support for purchasing the property via a bond for developing playfields, but that it would likely take a citizen’s committee to drive it. Bruce Fletcher reported that there is some information that was gathered by the past P&R Administration about developing the property into playfields with parking, a restroom facility and a small open space. This information could be shared with a committee if needed. Bruce offered to contact the Trust for Public Lands who acted as a liaison with the owner(s) in the past to see how the discussion was left.
Several Trustees felt that the City would need to have a conversation with the owners to see if they would consider working with the City on acquiring the property.
Council Liaison Grausz pointed out that the other alternative to the North Star property would be to try to raise funds privately. Paul West reported that while preparing the application for the grant, he met with a planner to discuss the possibility of a conservation easement to find out what the development constraints of the property might be. It was discovered that the property has some significant development constraints primarily because of the topography and the ability to run utilities to the property. The conclusion was that the lots would require a 25 foot rear yard setback which could be configured adjacent to the Engstrom Open Space. For very little loss in development potential we could have an additional 25 foot buffer on the north side of that parcel. Paul felt this was one lower cost way to get some additional habitat protection for the Engstrom Open Space without acquiring the entire parcel.
Council Liaison Grausz stated that the next step is to meet with North Star to try to get an option.
Pioneer Park Video and Trust Award– Bob Thorpe
Trustee Thorpe reported that he accepted an award on behalf of the Open Space Conservancy Trust for his role as liaison with the Farrington Foundation. This award was presented at the screening that took place on April 21st.
Paul showed the video “Pioneer Park” to the Trustees which was received very well. Paul reported that the Pioneer Park movie cannot be aired on the City’s TV Channel because it is not produced by the City.
Summer Trails Work Plan– Justin Howell
Justin Howell, Trails Specialist, reported that their seasonal crew has been hired and gave a report on areas where work has begun and areas that will be worked on this summer. He reviewed the Pioneer Trails Work Plan Summer 2011 that was included in the agenda packet
The Trustees expressed concern about installing a fence to address the issue of erosion and water quality on a section of the Bridge Trail. Staff agreed to return to a future Trust Board meeting with options for how to address this problem including photos of the proposed fencing.
Justin reported that he received a call from a trail user who got lost at the end of the creek trail. He suggested a sign be installed notifying users that the trail ends. Paul West stated that he thought there might be an old existing sign there already that has been obscured by vegetation. It was decided that the existing sign would be relocated.
Chair Bertlin summarized that the Trust Board is supportive of the 2011 Summer Trails Work Plan with the exception of the fence issue discussed earlier.
Root Rot Protocol Development Update– Paul West
Paul reported that the Council approved the budget surplus carry-forward for the purpose of funding the root rot investigation and training. He reported that they have a contract in place now for the work. He stated that they are going to move forward with the work and will report back to the Trust Board at a future meeting.
Donation Policy Report/Campaign– Paul West
Paul said this item was in the workplan to bring the Trust Board up to date on the department Donation Policy and other donation opportunities. He displayed an updated map of the existing benches in Pioneer Park and approved locations for future benches. He asked the Trustees if this represents what they currently want.
Council Liaison Grausz suggested that the City/ Trust Board should be making money on donations.
Trustee Lanzinger recalled that the Trustees looked at this issue last year and decided that they liked the existing plan.
There was some discussion about the possibility of taking funds from donations and setting up a system where those funds would be spent in Pioneer Park. Bruce Fletcher agreed to look into it. Trustee Thorpe expressed a concern that donations be accessible to all residents, and argued that might be a reason for keeping the cost of a bench donation closer to the expense incurred by the Parks & Recreation Department.
Next Meeting– Debbie Bertlin
Dan Grausz reported that he would not be able to attend the June 9th meeting.