Open Space Trust Board members present
Ira Appelman, Vice Chairman, Bill Duvall, Rita Moore, Gail Magnuson, Jim Pearman and Marguerite
Open Space Trust Board members absent
Pete Mayer, Director, Parks and Recreation, Paul West, Arborist, Stephanie Cangie,
There were no public appearances.
Approval of Minutes
Motion made by Trustee Duvall and seconded by Trustee Moore to approve the minutes of the July 1,
2003 meeting with the following changes:
Page 4 under Northwest Quadrant: should be changed to read:
An encroachment by a neighboring property owner.
Motion unanimously approved.
Page 4 under Ravine Trail from East Mercer Way: should be changed to read:
The ravine bridge location – The trust discussed the logistics of getting the bridge footings
poured and the safety of using teenage workers.
Starbucks Grant Application
The application was submitted on June 30, 2003. Trustee Moore was commended for her work in
helping to prepare the visual portion of the application. Paul reported that the City of Mercer
Island was not accepted as one of the finalists for the grant. Starbucks did not give a reason
for its decision.
Ravine Bridge Trail
Paul reported that construction has begun on the connecting trail from the south side of the
creek to the where the bridge will be installed. Sahale, LLC, the bridge construction company,
still needs to provide an adequate insurance certificate before their contract with the City is
finalized and construction begins. The plan is to begin construction on Thursday, August 14,
2003. V.O.I.C.E. (Volunteer Outreach in Communities Everywhere) volunteers are assisting in the
Trustee Moore has submitted an article for the Fall Parks and Recreation Guide. The guide will
be available to the public by August 28, 2003. Refer to Appendix I
Summer Celebration! Booth
Vice Chairman Appelman advised that Trustee Moore, Owens, and himself met with Paul West as a
sub-committee and coordinated gathering the materials that were on display at the booth. Next
year there need to be more volunteers to work the booth. Those who worked the booth said the
photographic display prepared by Trustee Moore was very helpful in explaining the park’s assets.
The public who stopped by the booth were very interested and enthusiastic. Trustee Appelman
suggested more advertising.
Forest Management Plan Review
The draft of the Forest Management Plan was presented to City Council on Monday, August 4,
2003. Vice Chairman Appelman distributed a transcript of the questions and answers between the
City Council and Paul West from the August 4, meeting.
Paul referred to his memo to the Trust dated 7/31/03 in which he raised several issues that
need to be resolved by the Trust Board before he can move ahead with the Management Plan.
Jim Owens suggested framing the Forest Management Plan as more of an ecosystem model rather
than a structural model. Paul thinks these are compatible. This would require supplying more
information in the plan about wildlife and vegetation in terms of habitat. He commented that
this is not necessarily an unfriendly amendment, it is just a lot more information to put into
the plan. Trustee Duvall commented that Jim Owens’ concern is implicit in open space and a
forest. Trustee Duvall’s question is what would the Trust do differently if it includes this.
He commented that as part of its educational efforts, the Board should start talking about the
connectivity of open space.
Vice Chairman Appelman asked how the Board wants to get this on the record.
He was hoping at tonight’s meeting the Board could bring forth its concerns taking two or three
meetings to get the concerns out in the open, and then Chairman Owens could direct the Trust in
how the plan can be used.
Trustee Moore stated that there already is a statement in the Forest Management Plan about
habitat. She would like the Plan to mention how the habitat connects with other Mercer Island
park habitats emphasizing that Pioneer Park is part of a broader habitat.
Paul said that he and Chairman Owens have discussed the idea of how much of the Forest
Management Plan is going to be used to educate the public, and if the plan is going to be used to
educate the public about Pioneer Park then probably more information should be included on the
ecosystem function and the benefits of urban forests. He reminded the Board that the Pioneer
Park Natural History Book contains a lot of this type of information and could be reprinted as an
Appendix to the Forest Management Plan.
Paul said that if the Board wants the Forest Management Plan to be used as an educational
piece, he could use the City Green software to provide statistics on benefits of the Pioneer Park
forest and the affects on air pollution and stormwater run off. If the Board wants the Forest
Management Plan to be used as a management plan, the pieces are already written except for the
Fire Management Plan which is forthcoming.
Trustee Moore sees this document as a Forest Management Plan that could also be applied to
other Mercer Island parks. She believes that it should not be used as a general educational
piece. Trustees Duvall, Sutherland, and Appelman agreed with her.
Vice Chairman Appelman asked how the primary use of the park for walking or jogging affects
the forest management plan. For example, if you want to create views of the ravine, does that
affect the forest management plan? If you want to look into the park from the trails, does this
affect the forest management plan.
Paul West replied that there is no consideration for this in the current plan. Trustee
Appelman suggested that there’s a conflict between the park being looked at as an ecosystem and
the park being looked at as a recreational area. How do we resolve this within the forest
management plan? There’s a conflict if you spend money on the ecosystem, then you aren’t
spending it on the recreational aspect. Trustee Moore pointed out that the City does spend money
on the trails. Vice Chairman Appelman asked if the Trust is going to open up the inside so
people can see into the forest or if it’s okay to have medium height plants blocking any views
into the forest. Trustee Moore said that it depends on which forest management options are
Paul directed the Trust Board to look at:
Page 7, #9, “The vegetation of the park will be managed to enhance park users’
passive enjoyment of a native forest setting.” On Page 37, at the top under “Edges. Edges must
contain dense vegetation to protect the forest interior from wind and sun. Edges along public
right-of-way should also allow some views into the forest.” Paul reiterated that edges along the
trail, having views off the trails, is not being managed as part of this draft forest management
plan. Trustee Appelman asked if it would be useful to include managing the views of the trails
as part of the forest management plan. Paul stated that this is up to the Trust Board.
Trustee Sutherland commented that the Trust Board has generally considered Pioneer Park to be
a passive park, that people going into the park don’t expect it to be managed for a cosmetic-like
or showcase-like look. In her opinion, she believes that most users of Pioneer Park expect a
forest experience.The City has a limited budget for maintaining Pioneer Park and the Trust Board
needs to be judicious in its recommendations for maintaining the edges along the trails.
Trustee Duvall referred to Paul’s memo in which two issues are raised:
“Does the Trust Board want to strictly prohibit funds from going towards resolving encroachments
and what would you want to spend money on for education of the public?” Trustee Duvall suggested
that money would be better spent on a demonstration project along the trails in the NW quadrant
so all park users would see and enjoy it rather than on an encroaching neighbor’s back yard where
he alone would see it.
Trustee Moore pointed out that park property currently encroached upon has to be restored and
this costs money. Trustee Duvall agreed that the City has to provide some plants and some labor
to Pioneer Park neighbors who are encroaching into the park. Trustee Sutherland suggested that
encroachers need to be fined and the encroacher pay for the removal of any structures and
restoration. Trustee Moore suggests that the City supply plants at cost to the encroachers.
Paul asked if there is some interest on the part of the Board to have a little bit of help
available to encroachers if they show good faith in restoring the property back to park
standards. The draft forest management plan states that the City will negotiate with
encroachers. The plan does not commit to any monetary funding for restoring encroachments. Paul
has written the plan to read “neighborhood partnerships” rather than encroachments, so that the
City could have partnerships with citizens anywhere in the park, not just along property
Trustee Duvall pointed out that some of the border areas are of high priority areas for
reforesting, however, if the choice of tasks was between working adjacent to one of the trails
versus restoring an encroachment, he would support spending the money where everyone can enjoy
Director Mayer asked if there are specific parameters when the Trust Board would decide to be
firm about encroachments, making the removal and restoration the responsibility of the property
owner, versus other times when the City will work with the citizen to accomplish the restoration,
i.e. providing plants, labor.
Discussion was held regarding the difficulty of obtaining an accurate survey showing exact lot
lines of the properties that neighbor Pioneer Park.
Trustee Pearman suggested a letter to the property owners informing them of a current survey
and the City is cleaning up the park encroachments. Trustee Moore believes any letter sent
should go to all neighbors who abut the park, not just those encroaching so that those who, for
example, are dumping their yard debris in the park, would get the message as well.
Vice Chairman Appelman wants the Trust Board to see the letter before it is sent out and have
staff confer with the City Attorney concerning the language of the letter.
Director Mayer suggested that the letter have a defined timeline for removal of encroachments
and a grant program for removal of encroachments, offering money on a first-come-first serve
basis with grant applications to be reviewed by the Trust. Paul West commented that based on the
current budget, the amount of money available to help neighbors with the encroachment is very
Director Mayer and Paul West agreed to come back to the Trust Board with an updated letter,
after talking to the City Attorney.
Referring again to Paul West’s memo of July 31, 2003, one of the questions posed by Vice
Chairman Appelman is whether the Trust Board would sell or not sell the wood from a fallen tree,
a tree removed for another reason such as a dead tree, or trees that have been thinned. Vice
Chairman Appelman believes that a decision about selling or not selling the wood needs to be part
of the Forest Management Plan. Trustee Sutherland suggested waiting until a situation occurs and
have the Trust Board made a decision then. Trustee Moore stated that generally in an open space,
such as Pioneer Park, when a tree falls for whatever reason, it’s left on the ground.
Trustee Pearman recalled that in the past when there’s been a tremendous storm the trees have
been left on the forest floor. Sometimes when alders have come down, the maintenance crew has
piled them into firewood piles and citizens have taken those. He questioned whether, when a tree
falls over a trail, you make a bench out of it, push it to the side, or cut it into small
sections so it can be removed? He believes there should be no precedent for people going into
the forest to harvest anything.
Paul suggested that the Trust can decide this question on a case-by-case basis. The Forest
Management Plan specifically has a project planning form and process so that the Trust Board will
be involved when trees are being removed for non-hazard purposes. The project plan would include
what’s going to happen to the wood and the Trust Board could decide then. There’s a mechanism
built into the Forest Management Plan to allow this. Paul suggested that there be a statement
somewhere in the plan about the possibility of selling the wood, if it’s not disruptive to the
forest. One of the projects that’s in the work plan now is the power line corrider on SE 68th
where there are a lot of topped conifers that are dangerous and were scheduled, in phase two of
that project, to be taken out. They are on the path and harvesting them won’t disrupt the
forest. This is merchantable timber and the question about whether to sell it or not will
probably come up.
Trustee Appelman wants a fuller discussion of the option of selling the wood from fallen trees
and using the money to do other tasks in the park, such as removing ivy.
Motion made by Trustee Pearman and seconded by Trustee Moore that all trees that fall in the
forest due to a natural course of events will be left in the forest.
Motion passed 5-1 with Trustee Appelman voting no.
Motion made by Trustee Pearman and seconded by Trustee Moore that if a tree needs to be
removed along the park perimeter for forest management or maintenance, the Open Space Conservancy
Trust Board will determine the disposal of the wood. Motion passed 5-1 with Trustee Appelman
Trustee Appelman asked if the forest management plan includes management for clearings where a
person could walk into an area in the forest where it opens up. Paul commented that the forest
management plan says that canopy gaps are a natural part of forest succession; the only time the
plan calls for getting rid of gaps is when there are excessive gaps. Most of the clearings are
extremely dense. Trustee Duvall says he doesn’t think it fits with the natural idea of the
park. Trustee Moore does not think the plan should create gaps—there will be gaps created
naturally by the forest and those will have to be managed to keep away the invasives. The Board
agreed to not include managing for clearings in the forest management plan.
Trustee Sutherland questioned the width of the brushing done on the trails that have been
maintained in the middle of the northwest section. The trails are being
brushed wider than what was originally agreed on in the master plan. Director Mayer and Paul
West will check with the maintenance crew to be sure they know the guidelines to be used for
brushing the trails. One suggestion was that the brushing is more evident due to the dry summer
weather and very little new growth has appeared.
Paul asked about Jim Owen’s desire to have a tree overhang on the roadway on Island Crest Way
where feasible and safe included in the Forest Management Plan. Paul commented that the forest
edge is set back from the roadway on Island Crest Way. The Board decided to wait until Jim
returns to discuss this topic.
Paul asked about the pictures of the three typologies included in the forest management plan.
He asked if the Trust wants another illustration included in the Forest Management Plan showing
the typology that represents the one main strategy for Pioneer Park. The Trust did not come to
a conclusion about adding another illustration in the Plan.
Trustee Pearman informed that City Council is working on the plans for the new community
center. Discussions by the Parks and Recreation ad hoc committee will be held next week
concerning a long-term financing strategy for maintenance and operations of Luther Burbank Park.
The committee includes Council Member El Jahncke, Pearman, and Cairns. Eventually work will be
done to develop a master plan for Luther Burbank.
Director Mayer reminded that the Forest Management Plan is going to City Council by October
2003. Paul reminded that a public forum for presenting the Plan needs to be accomplished by the
third week of September in preparation for presentation to City Council in October.
Trustee Moore asked if the Board will make a decision on which type of forest management plan
will go to the public. Paul advised that the current plan is a hybrid between purely native and
planting conifers to maintain the character of the forest. It is his intention to go to the public with the current draft plan.
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 4,
2003, 7:30 p.m., City Hall 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