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Thursday, September 04, 2003

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

Pete Mayer, Director, Parks and Recreation, Paul West, Arborist, Eileen Trifts, Administrative Assistant


There were no public appearances.

Approval of Minutes

Motion by Trustee Appelman and seconded by Trustee Moore to approve the minutes from the August 7, 2003 meeting with the following change: on Page 4, third paragraph, fourth line, remove the next six lines of text and replace with the following ……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. Unanimously approved.

Old Business

Ravine Bridge and Trail
Paul reported that the contractor selected to build the bridge has not provided an insurance certificate covering product liability to satisfy the city's contract requirements. The deadline for supplying the certificate is September 10, 2003. The contractor must meet the time frame of the building permit in a water course area, which is June 1 - September 30. If the contractor does not supply the certificate by the September 10 deadline, then construction will have to wait until next year.

Chairman Owens asked if any progress has been made on the trail up to the bridge area. Paul responded that the V.O.I.C.E. program did construct a portion of the connecting trail to the bridge at the beginning of August; this portion of the project is mostly in place, but if the bridge is not constructed this year then some signage will need to done to advise the public of the status of the trail. The trail on the north side of the creek has not been extended yet.

Trustee Appelman questioned how the poor drainage in the bridge area will be handled, if the bridge isn't built. Paul stated he does not have a plan for this right now and was hoping to address the problem when the bridge was constructed. He hopes to incorporate the drainage problem into the volunteer work party on October 25, 2003.

Trustee Moore and Duvall are concerned about people walking around the edges of the muddy, poorly drained area making the trail wider than was expected and damaging the vegetation.

Paul confirmed that the cost of construction by the proposed contractor would be the same with or without the volunteers. It takes about three weeks to get a permit.

Trillium Progress Report
T rustee Moore reported that she should be able to work on the Trillium in September/October. The one-page article in the Fall Parks and Recreation Guide was well received.

Forest Management Plan Brochure
The Board discussed the proposed plan brochure providing some edits.

Forest Management Plan
Chairman Owens suggested the Board discuss seven areas of the Forest Management Plan
1. The Plan serving as a public education device
2. Alternative typologies
3. Herbicides
4. Encroachments
5. Safety
6. View from Interior Trails
7. Endangered Plant Species

In recapping discussion held at the August meeting, Chairman Owens asked the board if it supported the "firm but gentle" approach. Trustee Sutherland said she thought the Board has to be lenient with those neighbors who have minor encroachments and not offer them money but rather advice and planning.

Trustee Appelman initiated a discussion about the City's history addressing encroachments. He expressed a desire for the City to have a policy for addressing encroachments. Trustee Pearman said that the policy is implicit in state law. He believes no policy is necessary. Trustee Appelman asked what is the procedure for addressing encroachments. Paul West referred to Page 26 in the Draft Forest Management Plan and clarified that the procedure would be: sending a letter to the homeowner, the Arborist meeting with the homeowner to come up with an agreement of steps they will take and the details of the steps, and if any, the steps the city will take to restore the encroachment, and if no agreement is reached, the encroachment will be referred to the City Attorney.

Trustee Appelman asked what is the definition of an encroachment? Paul West clarified that the encroachments in the Plan reflect his judgment about which encroachments needed to be addressed for forest management purposes. There may be other encroachments that are minor in his opinion. Trustee Pearman suggested that the current list has the identified encroachments and in the future if additional encroachments are identified, they will be handled in the manner identified in the plan. See Appendix B in the Draft Plan for a list of encroachments that exist now.

Trustee Appelman wanted some criteria for how encroachments are identified and when an encroachment requires action. Trustee Pearman suggested not referencing who identifies the encroachment. Trustee Sutherland wanted the encroachment tied to the land or title in some fashion.

Chairman Owens summarized the discussion in a motion that was seconded
by Trustee Duvall to amend the encroachment language on page 26 in the draft forest management plan to include that encroachments will be dealt with in the following manner:

  1. Send a letter to the homeowner
  2. Arborist meets with the homeowner to come up with an agreement of steps they will take and the details of the steps, if any, the steps the city will take to restore the encroachment
  3. If no agreement is reached, the encroachment will be referred to the City Attorney.
Motion passed 6-1 with Trustee Appelman dissenting.

Trustee Owens asked if the board was comfortable with the plan as it stands. He referred to Page 15-Section 7-Exotic Invasive Control. Trustee Duvall observed that the public seems to change its adverse reaction to chemicals when its use is explained. Discussion focused on clarifying how the use of herbicides will be limited. The Trust seemed to generally agree to allow Paul West to add an explanation of this to the Plan.

Off Trail Use Control
Chairman Owens referred to Page 17-Section 8.9-Off Trail Use Control and asked if the Board is comfortable with the plan as it stands on this subject. Chairman Owens wanted to add something that says downed trees can be used to close off inappropriate trail use. Trustee Sutherland agreed that this is a good way to block a trail without signage. Trustee Pearman suggested that since this Forest Management Plan is going to be used as a template for other Mercer Island parks, it would be a good idea to address inappropriate trail use in this document. Paul stated that in his experience a single log across a trail does not limit use. He suggested that large branches create more of a barrier. Paul wanted the Forest Management Plan to address off-trail use that tramples vegetation. He isn't as concerned about off-trail use that creates new trails.

Trustee Moore asked if there is signage that says 'Please stay on the trails.' Paul responded that the entrance signs include that statement. Trustee Appelman thinks that off-trail use is okay and should not be a policy.

Motion by Trustee Appelman that Section 8.9 be deleted from the Draft Forest Management Plan. Motion was not seconded.

Trustee Magnuson pointed out that according to the Open Space Trust Board guidelines, one of the things the Board is supposed to do is to control trail use when it impacts vegetation. Trustee Appelman believes the controlling is done by the ordinance which, in his opinion, encourages low impact use. He thinks that Section 8.9 in the Forest Management Plan tends to discourage low impact use.

Trustee Appelman stated that the Forest Management Plan provides criteria for the Arborist or Parks Maintenance crew to use in making a decision about what to plant in the park or what to remove from the park---should they take safety into consideration. For example, if they were deciding whether to place a plant next to a trail, should they consider whether that plant would provide cover for someone who might want to attack a runner or walker. He believes this type of safety should be taken into consideration. Paul suggested it might go as a new section under General Management Prescriptions. Trustee Moore said that in this type of park she does not think the Board should be taking this type of safety into consideration because there are so many places in a park like this where someone could hide. Trustee Appelman wanted safety language included in the Plan; however, Trustee Pearman stated that he thinks the issue of safety has to do with whether diseased or weakend trees might fall in the way of users or vehicles. He thinks that is as far as the plan can go.

Paul suggested that for the purpose of taking the Plan to the public, it may be useful to have a section in the plan about safety so they know it was considered. He offered that a statement could be included such as: vegetation in the park will not be managed to limit cover along the trail except when new plants are being installed.

Chairman Owens asked the Board to state if they want a statement in the plan about safety, specifically, vegetation in the park being managed as to not limit cover along the trail except when new plants are being installed. Trustee Appelman agreed with this type of language being included in the Plan; however, the remainder of the Trust Board disagreed and the Plan will not include this type of statement.

Endangered Species
Chairman Owens asked if the Plan should include protecting and restoring endangered plant species. As the Plan stands now, it says these plants should be protected from encroachment. Locally endangered and protected species include trillium, vanilla leaf, and wild ginger as described on Page 17 of the Draft Plan. The question is whether the Plan should include restoration of these plants. Trustee Moore suggested that if the Park is rid of invasives, the endangered plants will take care of themselves. Trustee Sutherland suggested some language be included restricting people from digging up trillium. Trustee Pearman believes that City ordinances restrict people from removing anything from the forest including the endangered species. Paul suggested including a sentence in Section 8.8 saying the endangered species will be considered for re-planting in appropriate areas. The Board agreed with Paul to include such a sentence.

View from Interior Trails
Although the Board decided at its August meeting that the Plan should not include managing the forest for views, further discussion was held. Trustee Appelman questioned what happens when elderberry has grown up so high and thick that you can't see in. He asked if the Plan should say how to manage for this type of situation. Trustee Pearman does not want any verbage included in the Plan that mentions managing for a view as it can be interpreted to include thinning and topping. Trustee Appelman said that the question is when you can't see into the forest and what the Plan will include to solve the situation. Trustee Moore recapped what was discussed at the last meeting which included keeping the edges fairly dense otherwise there is too much light coming in; where appropriate along the trail, removing some of the elderberry so a deeper view is available into the forest from the trail and the decision to do this would be at the discretion of the Arborist.

After further discussion, the Board agreed and directed Paul to use his discretion to include appropriate language in the Plan that will say the park will be managed to include trail users' sight lines into the forest from interior trails.

Chairman Owens asked the Board to consider what the goal of the management plan is.

Is it a straight prescription for the management of flora--trees, bushes, and understory?
1) Is the Plan a long term vision for the park including a broader set of considerations beyond just managing the trees and if so, does the Plan need to have a fuller description of the affected environment and the systems involved in the way the forest functions? 2)Plans a full description of the affected environments outlining a broad range of values that are affected including wildlife, water resources, recreation, soils, and scenery is included.

Chairman Owens offered the table of contents from several other management plans. He believes there is an opportunity to develop within the Pioneer Park Forest Management Plan a description of the affected ecosystems and the way these ecosystems function. He suggested that the Plan should be managing for use by several future generations. The Forest Management Plan should serve as a description of the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board's vision of the forest. This is an opportunity to:

1. better inform the public about the Parks' resources
2. help the public understand implications of different management scenarios
3. better articulate the desired future condition the Trust is hoping to attain for the Park through this plan.

The Board agreed that the Introduction could include a description of the ecological aspects of Pioneer Park. Trustee Pearman wants a mission statement to be included. the forest mgmt plan.

Alternative Typologies
As the Plan stands, the typology of the forest is Native Regeneration with Conifer Planting. It is described in Section 7-Overall Strategy. Paul will expand this description and embed the pictures into the text to provide a clearer understanding of the Trust Board's preferred typology and the alternatives.

Off Agenda Items

Trustee Pearman reported that the City Council passed the levy for Luther Burbank to go to the public on the November ballot. It is going to be a 6-year levy at $415,000 a year. Trustee Moore commented that citizens have reported to her that there is erosion from bike riders on the ravine trail and are concerned about it. Several people have commented about the dogs being off leash. Trustee Appelman would like to eventually have a discussion about erosion issues in the park. Chairman Owens will include this topic at the October 2, 2003 meeting.


The meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m. Next regularly scheduled meeting is October 16, at 7:30 p.m., in the City Council Chambers.
The Board will hold an additional meeting on Thursday, September 18, at 7:30 p.m., in the City Council Chambers to discuss the educational descriptive content of the Forest Management Plan, the fire management portion of the plan, if the information has been provided by the Fire Department, and develop a mission statement.

[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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