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Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Open Space Trust Board members present
Jim Owens, Chairman, Ira Appelman, Vice Chairman, Bill Duvall, Gail Magnuson, Rita Moore, Marguerite Sutherland, Jim Pearman

Greg Brown, Parks and Recreation Manager , Paul West, Arborist, Stephanie Cangie, Administrative Assistant

There were no public appearances.

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of March 6, 2003 were unanimously approved with one change: the last sentence under Public Appearances should be changed to read: "The Board also suggested that the group consider organizing a more robust constituency for a mountain bike trail."

Old Business

Forest Management Plan Update
Paul West showed the Board the results of a canopy analysis done by Marshall and Associates, Inc. of Olympia. Canopy gaps and areas of fragmented forest in Pioneer Park were mapped. The analysis produced three areas of information:

Canopy Heights There are 5 classes of canopy:
  • Prone vegetation
  • Shrub vegetation
  • Small Trees
  • Medium Trees
  • Large Trees
Canopy Gaps

Any areas that are prone vegetation or shrub vegetation larger than
approximately 200 sq. ft. are called gaps. Gaps are a natural function of the forest but if there are too many it encourages invasive plants.

Fragmented Forest Areas Some of the fragmented areas are around the gap areas. This reflects areas where there might be concerns about the health of the canopy.

Paul distributed a sample illustration for three scenarios of what Pioneer Park could look like as the forest management plan is set in motion. Once the pen and ink versions are approved, then color will be added. These illustrations will be useful for the public to understand how the park will look through the forest management plan phases.

All members of the Board volunteered to work with Paul through this summer to help bring the Forest Management Plan to its final form. This might involve some additional meetings.

Paul is intending to apply City Green (a software produced by American Forest) to look at the economic values of Pioneer Park in terms of air pollution abatement and storm run off. He hopes to show the public and the City Council how many dollar benefits are retrieved from Pioneer Park.

Trail Maintenance
Greg Brown distributed a chart showing the number of hours and frequency of hours dedicated to various maintenance tasks in Pioneer Park. He explained that each park on Mercer Island has been assigned a level of service-A, B, or C level--depending on the size of the park, the type of activities, scheduled uses, etc. Pioneer Park is a "B" level park as are most of the neighborhood parks. The City Council used this Parks Level of Service analysis to prepare the 2001-2002 biennial budget. Council has since reaffirmed that the current level of service is adequate taking into consideration the resources available. In the 2001-02 budget period, more emphasis was placed on maintaining Pioneer Park by hiring two additional seasonal workers who work directly in Pioneer Park.

The budgetary allotment for Pioneer Park is not based on the $50,000 capital improvements monies set aside for Forest Management. The budget for maintaining Pioneer Park is part of the overall parks maintenance budget of $525,000 that is used for general maintenance in all of the parks. Both the I-90 and athletic field budgets are separate from the $525,000.

Trustee Appelman questioned how maintenance staff discovers fallen logs over trails. He asked what the time requirement would be for the staff to check all the trails on the map every month. Greg responded that anytime there is a storm or similar phenomena, the crew checks the parks thoroughly for fallen logs or other
hazards. Three or more hours would be required to check all the trails in Pioneer Park. Weekly park checks include a cursory check of the exterior trails and any known "hot spots". In addition to conducting parks checks, maintenance crews depend on citizens reporting maintenance needs on the interior trails.

Trustee Magnuson asked what the plans are for maintaining the newly restored trail surface. She questioned if some of the trails that are very soft or rutted should be repaired now. The maintenance crew follows what the Pioneer Park Master Plan identifies as needed which including clearances above and on both sides of the trails. Most of this work is deferred until summer staff is brought on board from June to September.

The Board discussed possible ways to pay for the digital preparation, printing, and mailing of the Trillium. The approximate cost is $3,100. This publication does not qualify for a Small Change Grant. The money in the Marilyn Hathaway account has been spent. The Parks and Recreation Department's budget does not have the money to cover this cost. Trustee Pearman suggested the Board approach the Mercer Island Foundation. Trustee Appelman stated that he
believes the City should pay for this. He would also like the Board to clearly define what the function of the Trillium is as well as examine what the potential return might be for this expense and effort. The Trillium could be used to educate the public about the Forest Management Plan. Trustee Pearman encouraged the Board to do a hard copy and an all-Island mailing once it has the funds to do a high-quality publication with substance and shelf life.

Motion made by Trustee Appelman and seconded by Trustee Sutherland to prepare an electronic version of the Trillium compatible with the City's web site and prepare an article for the fall recreation guide directing readers to the web site. The Board will wait on producing a hard copy and an all-island mailing. Motion unanimously approved.

The deadline for the recreation guide article is July 1, 2003 and should be sent to Jennifer Berner, Recreation Supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Assignments for preparing articles for the Trillium:
1. A brief history - Marguerite Sutherland
2. Accomplishments since 2001 - Jim Owens
3. Forest Management Plan - it will be mentioned but it won't be ready
4. Invasive plants - Rita Moore
5. Appeal for volunteers - Jim Owens - advertise the fall planting
6. Appeal for contributions - Jim Owens
7. List of Board members and staff - Rita Moore
8. Photos, line drawings - Rita Moore
9. News about Saddle Club - Gail Magnuson

These articles, in electronic form, are due to Rita Moore by May 20, 2003. She hopes to have a rough draft by the June 5, 2003 meeting.

New Business

2003 and Beyond Priorities
Chairman Owens posted the following potential priorities, dividing them into areas of responsibility. The Board members were given sticky dots and asked to place their dots where they envision the Board's efforts be directed. The results were as follows:

Trust Board
Funding Sources Education Programs - 6 dots
Expand Trust Properties - 5 dots
Increase Trust Constituency - 4 dots
Special Use Policies
Forest Management Plan*
Complete the Ravine Trail*
Pursue Grants for Restoration
Encroachment - 2 dots
Invasives Policy
Wildlife Survey - 2 dots
Oral History
Natural History
Birding Actions - 1 dot
*These tasks are already on their way to successful completion.

Summer Celebration Booth
The Board decided to share the Ivy Brigade's booth at Summer Celebration on July 12 and 13, 2003. Available Board members will work shifts on each of these days.

Citizen's Request
Paul West informed that he has received several requests from a citizen who wishes to work on the portion of Pioneer Park that his property abuts to get rid of the blackberries that are growing into his yard as well as restoration work in this portion of the park. He is very knowledgeable and knows there will a Forest Management Plan in place in the fall. Paul will define the scope of work and be available to answer any questions. Paul believes the man will follow whatever limitations Paul sets forth. He will also be asked to sign the City's volunteer waiver, and he will be required to report his hours.

Trustee Appelman asks what the policy is concerning people who want to do this type of work on their own in Pioneer Park. He believes the Board needs to more closely examine the ramifications of other people seeing this man doing work in Pioneer Park alone.

Motion by Trustee Sutherland that this citizen be given permission to do the restoration work on the park side of the property boundary under the supervision of the City of Mercer Island. Motion seconded by Trustee Moore. Motion approved with Trustee Appelman voting no.

Off Agenda Items

A draft of the Mercer Island Parks and Open space Preservation Initiative was distributed for information purposes only.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:11 p.m. The next regular meeting will be held on Thursday, June 5, 2003, at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

[Important Note: The proceedings of the Open Space Trust Board meeting were recorded on tape and are filed in the Parks & Rec Department. The complete agenda and official minutes of this meeting are also filed in the Parks & Rec Department.]


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