Call To Order:
Acting Chair Bob Thorpe called the meeting to order at 6:03 pm in the City Council Chambers of City Hall.
Bob Thorpe, Secretary and Acting Chair; Jane Meyer Brahm, Council Liaison, Don Cohen, Tina Lanzinger, Elliot Newman, Geraldine Poor and Joel Wachs were present.
Bruce Fletcher, Parks & Recreation Director
Paul West, Parks Natural Resource Coordinator
Alaine Sommargren, Natural Resource Specialist
It was moved by Trustee Cohen, seconded by Trustee Newman, to:
Approve the minutes of November 10, 2011 as submitted.
Motion passed 4-0
Debbie Bertlin, 2435 72nd Ave NE, Mercer Island, WA 98040, Council Member and former OSCT Chair attended the meeting to express her appreciation for the experience and learning over the past year during her term on the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board.
Jenny McCloskey, Wallingford, appeared to comment on the kiosk area work at 68th and Island Crest Way that took place last year. She reported that she walked the area with Paul and made some comments about how the new layout has changed the sight lines.
Welcome to New Trustees – Bruce Fletcher
Bruce Fletcher, Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Director, welcomed the two new Trustees (Geraldine Poor and Joel Wachs) and the new Council Liaison, Jane Meyer Brahm. Each new member spoke for a few minutes about their history and interest in the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board.
Election of Officers – Bob Thorpe/Elliot Newman
It was moved by Trustee Cohen, seconded by Council Liaison Brahm, to:
Nominate Elliot Newman for the position of Chair
Motion passed 7-0.
It was moved by Trustee Lanzinger, seconded by Council Liaison Brahm, to:
Nominate Bob Thorpe for the position of Vice Chair
Motion passed by acclamation.
It was moved by Trustee Thorpe, seconded by Council Liaison Brahm, to:
Nominate Tina Lanzinger for the position of Secretary
Motion passed by acclamation.
Kiosk Area Trail Rerouting– Paul West
Paul West, Parks Natural Resource Coordinator, reported that The Trust took on a design process in 2010 for the kiosk area located at the northwest corner of Island Crest Way and SE 68th. The work was completed in 2011. Previous to the completion of the work, the area was weedy and bare and has since been restored with native vegetation and logs. Staff was recently contacted by a Saddle Club user that had been riding on a portion of the trail that had been closed as a result of the design process. At the time of the design process, it was determined that the section in question was redundant to the trail that comes off the intersection to the south of it. The closing of that section provided additional buffering and landscaping.
The Saddle Club user stated that when traveling south on the now closed portion, she felt more comfortable being close to the roadway as she felt it signaled to the drivers that she would be crossing the intersection prior to doing so. She feels that by exiting the trail further south that the cars are already accelerating into the turn and are surprised to see a horse there.
Paul asked for the Trustees feedback to this concern since so much discussion took place about the design before it was implemented. He noted that if the Trust decided to reopen this section of trail, it would probably take about a day of work with the seasonal crew to do so.
Trustee Wachs asked staff if there might be another solution to the problem other than reopening the closed section of trail. Paul responded that he had not explored other options. He also said there are sight distance issues, but he felt they had more to do with road geometry rather than anything else. Staff has looked at cutting back vegetation to improve sight lines around that corner, but it did not seem that vegetation was the major issue.
Trustee Cohen commented that this issue might have been better addressed at the time of the design discussion in 2010. He also noted that since this may be a larger issue involving pedestrians that it would probably warrant the involvement of other parties such as traffic management, etc. Trustee Cohen asked if there is any horse crossing signage at the corner in question and Trustee Lanzinger stated that there is not.
Bruce Fletcher asked Trustee Lanzinger if she was aware of how much horse traffic there is in that quadrant. She said that in her experience there is not very much in that quadrant, especially since Stevenson’s closed. She also said that she is discouraging younger riders from using that quadrant because of its potential for accidents with pedestrians and other animals.
Chair Newman asked if there had been any accidents or close calls recently in that area. Trustee Lanzinger described an incident where some time ago, her mare was frightened by a car horn and ran off.
Jenny McCloskey described her typical route to explain her perspective.
Chair Newman stated that the options to consider here were to ask staff to go back and research alternative solutions and continue to pursue a resolution that may involve additional parties to address safety, or to decide to not implement a change. After listening to a few final comments by Trustees, Chair Newman asked if there were any motions to ask staff to continue work on this issue. There were no motions.
Annual Report to Council – Paul West
Paul West stated that the ordinance requires the Trust to report to The City Council every year on the condition of the Trust properties. In the past several years, staff has composed a draft and submitted it to the Chair for review. The report is then brought to a Trust Board meeting for final comments before being presented to City Council. He proposed the same process be used again this year. Chair Newman expressed support for continuing to address the Annual Report using the same process.
Trustee Wachs asked if there would be time to review the annual report if the meeting frequency was changed to every other month. Paul West suggested that the draft report be reviewed at the April meeting, and that it be presented to Council in May or June. Paul noted that there is no requirement on when the report gets presented to Council, so the timing could be flexible. The draft would be included in the agenda packet, so there would be sufficient time for the Trust to review the draft and make suggestions before it is finalized.
2012 Work Plan – Paul West
Paul West stated that as part of the Annual Report to Council we have been including a work plan for the year. Paul has compiled a list of topics, some of which are required, some discretionary and others are initiatives that would be driven by Trustees’ interests. Paul opened up the discussion for additions of new items or removal of items from the list. He agreed to bring it back in April for finalizing.
Trustee Cohen asked if the preschool program development was still a priority for the Trustees. Chair Newman noted that the By-Laws make mention of education as a mandate. Chair Newman said that the Letterboxing program is good for children above preschool age. Paul West said he approached Sunnybeam Preschool a year or two ago and was curious if there was something else they could do to promote preschool age children’s use of Pioneer Park. Trustee Lanzinger suggested the Trust try to develop some program with Sunnybeam because of their proximity to the park. Trustee Poor suggested the Trust consider other educational programs as well. Bruce Fletcher commented that staff time is limited to contribute to the development of these types of programs. Chair Newman suggested that Trustees could take a leadership role in the development of these programs. Bruce suggested making the educational work plan item broader to include children and families.
Chair Newman suggested adding trail signage to the list. Trustee Thorpe suggested scouts come to the meetings and report on their projects in Pioneer Park. Trustee Cohen suggested adding a topic of Summer Celebration booth. Trustee Lanzinger suggested adding the other events as well (such as Leap for Green).
Cascade Orienteering Event Report – Alaine Sommargren
Alaine Sommargren, Parks Natural Resource Specialist, gave an update on the orienteering event that happened in November of last year. They did an event in 2009 and received some complaints of trampled vegetation and off trail use during that event. Last year, The Cascade Orienteering group applied for a permit to do another event in Pioneer Park and Island Crest Park. The Parks Department communicated these past issues and concerns to them and they were willing to work with staff to plan for this better so it didn’t happen again.
Last summer Paul West presented this information to the Trustees to let them know and get feedback about potential issues, and also to present what our requirements were for this organization in order to use this park again. Among the requirements they agreed to was to pay for a staff person to be present at the event to make sure everything went smoothly.
The event took place in early November and there were approximately 400 participants. The event was staged at Island Crest Park. The staff member noted that of the 35 or so check in points established by the organization, at least 10 were placed off trail. He did not observe any serious damage to vegetation at those locations. He reported that he discussed this issue with the organizers the day of the event, and subsequently received an apology and a communication that they would not be including Pioneer Park or Island Crest Park as a location for their events in 2012 and 2013. They did express an interest in using these locations in the future.
Meeting Frequency and Dates – Bruce Fletcher
Bruce Fletcher presented the possibility of changing the meeting frequency to every other month from the current schedule of every month. He said that staff feels they can have fewer meetings and still accomplish the workload. The By-Laws only require the Trust to meet twice a year, and he suggested that extra meetings could be scheduled as needed.
Chair Newman informed the new Trustees that the Trust met eight times last year. He said that his only concern was whether or not the work plan could be completed with fewer meetings, but that if staff felt confident it could he had no problem with it. Trustee Wachs wondered if the August date might be an issue due to vacations. Chair Newman suggested the August date be discussed at the June meeting.
Paul West suggested using a Doodle Calendar to poll the Trustees on their availability and bringing it to the next meeting.
Chair Newman explained to the new Trustees that in the past Trustees volunteered to monitor each quadrant in Pioneer Park and communicate with staff things like fallen trees and other issues. He suggested that the new Trustees might volunteer in this capacity to get better acquainted with the park. Chair Newman appointed the following quadrants to the new Trustees: Jane Meyer Brahm – NW Quadrant, Geraldine Poor – NE Quadrant, Joel Wachs – SE Quadrant.
Letterboxing Program Update – Elliot Newman
Chair Newman reported that the Letterboxing committee had their kick-off meeting a few weeks ago. He said the committee is about six people and he will be serving as a liaison and someone else will take over the chairing of the committee. It will begin on National Trails Day with four letterboxes and hopefully a coupon for Yo Mercer. He said that the clue books will be different and the clues will all begin from the kiosk. He reported that some of the kids had trouble finding their way back from the letterboxes, so the clues will include directions on how to get back to the kiosk. The letterboxes will also be organized so that they can be searched for in order to make for a better flow. They will be pursuing another donation from Holland America Line, who has contributed in past years. An awards ceremony will take place at the end of the program.
Next Meeting – Elliot Newman
Chair Newman expressed his gratitude for the honor of being elected. He also thanked staff for their contributions. Trustee Thorpe distributed discs of the draft of the latest edition of “Pioneer Park – A Natural History.” Chair Newman explained to the new Trustees about the Farrington Foundation projects involving Pioneer Park. The next meeting will be held on April 12th.
Adjournment: 7:38 pm