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Friday, June 07, 2002

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

Open Space Trust Board members absent
Jim Owens

Staff
Paul West, Arborist
Pete Mayer, Director of Parks and Recreation
Stephanie Cangie, Administrative Assistant

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of May 2, 2002 were unanimously approved.

Appearances

There were no public appearances.

Old Business

Master Plan Implementation Update
A handout was provided containing a recommendation that Alternate 5 ’Mineral Soil Surfacing’ be removed from the Pioneer Park Improvements project. Three bids were opened on May 30, 2002 for the Pioneer Parks Improvements Project. MacLeod Reckord Landscape Architects and staff have been discussing which bid alternatives to accept. Their suggestion was summarized in the draft letter presented to the Trust Board. During the design process, the acquisition of the trail head on East Mercer Way was not quite so clearly a possibility but now it has become a strong possibility that the City may acquire that access.

The Conservation Futures Funding Group toured the site on Saturday, May 25, 2002. The City has a strong application. The merits of the application are 1) there is a strong recreation component, 2) funding has been dedicated to the maintenance of Pioneer Park, and 3) there is support from the Parks Department, the Trust Board, and the community for this acquisition and the management of the new properties. The appraisal of the properties came in below what was estimated in the application to Conservation Futures Funding. The Quarles property, which the Trust Board hopes to acquire title to, was appraised at $200,000, and staff had estimated it at $540,000. The other properties are marketable parcels and will be appraised at market rate. Those are the properties on which the Trust Board hopes to acquire conservation and trail easements. The amount of the appraisal on those properties has not yet been determined. Paul is optimistic that the City will receive the funding requested in the application.

If the acquisition of the trail easements is accomplished, the idea of bridging the creek and creating the trail connection to the rest of Pioneer Park becomes more of a possibility. Staff has discussed with the designers how money can be carved out to pay for that connection. Opting out of Bid Alternate #5, Mineral Trail Surfacing, would be the best choice to create the budget for making the trail connection a reality. The Mineral Trail Surfacing has been a problematic feature of the design process from the beginning. There was a lot of strong feedback at the master plan public open house indicating that people did not want to have a gravel trail surface. As a result of this, staff and the designers came up with a mineral soil surface which would till gravel into existing soil to create a more natural appearing surface.

As the Park Arborist, Paul advised that he has strong concerns about the tilling of large sections of trail because of the amount of tree roots impacted. The landscape architect responded to this concern by decreasing the amount of tilling that would be required lowering the depth of tilling from six inches to four inches; however, there is still a lot potential for root impact even tilling four inches into the soil. Paul believes a dry, passable surface can be accomplished without using a mineral soil amendment to the existing trails.

It is suggested that the bid be awarded with Alternates 1-4 thus giving a remainder, after contingency and project management, with a balance of approximately $44,000 which would allow the construction of a bridge across the creek as well as the trail from the loop trail to East Mercer Way. MacLeod Reckord estimates the cost of the bridge will be $44,670. This would be a weatherable steel bridge with wood decking and the underlying structure and railing would be a steel that is designed to be unpainted and unfinished and weathers to a light rusting. Once it rusts, this type of steel is impervious to further degradation. It’s a commonly used bridge material on many of the Forest Service trails.

Paul stated that in some places it will be necessary to dig out the organic muck that is on the trail, put down quarry spalls covering that over with native soil in places where drainage is poor. As an overall treatment he recommends using native soil for the trail surface, and where drainage improvements are not needed grading of the existing trail will suffice. Trustee Appelman questioned if additional tilling of gravel into the trail surface could be done in the future if a semi-gravel surface was needed. Paul confirmed that the plan to drop Alternate #5 does not eliminate future options to improving portions of the trail as needed.

Trustee Magnuson questioned what the dimensions of the bridge will be. Paul advised that the bridge will be 4 feet wide and 55 feet long. The sides will be at least 32 inches high. The rail opening is 4 inches or less.

Paul stated that there are two issues to be considered with regard to the improvements:

  1. Design work needs to be done to decide exactly where the bridge will go.
  2. Concurrence from the Trust Board to drop Alternate 5 is needed . City Council needs to make the final decision.
Motion was made by Trustee Appelman to accept staff’s recommendation to eliminate Alternate 5, Mineral Soil Surfacing, keeping remaining funds to pay for a possible trail to East Mercer Way. Motion was seconded by Trustee Duvall. Motion unanimously approved.

Paul stated that he is presently reviewing the bids and developing the Agenda Bill that will go to City Council on June 18. The Agenda Bill will include base bid plus Alternates 1-4 and exclude Alternate 5.

Trustee Appelman questioned if the alternates will be considered a lower priority. He wants the ravine trail to be managed as part of the regular bid. Director Mayer assured that staff will make a recommendation to City Council for approval of the base bid plus alternates 1-4. If council concurs with that, a notice to proceed will be issued with the contract. The contract is base bid and alternates 1-4—it is one complete project. Once these are included in the contract and the notice to proceed is issued the alternates are part of the complete project and an alternate cannot be dropped. The contractor ultimately has to determine what is the most efficient way to complete the project. Paul reminded that the ravine trail is a key to the King County grant.

Forest Management Tour
Paul asked the Trust Board’s impressions of the forest management tour held on May 11, 2002. Paul reported that very few people discussed the herbicide issue with him. Most people he spoke with want just native Puget Sound plant palettes in the park. Trustee Duvall complimented Paul on the tone and soft approach he took regarding the herbicide issue. The way the topic of using herbicides was explained was that for the good of Pioneer Park the use of some herbicides made sense. Chairperson Sutherland talked to new Mercer Island citizens at the tour who were very supportive of the tour and the plans for the park. Trustee Moore spoke to citizens on the tour who were concerned about what was going to happen in the Park and were relieved to find out the facts about the improvements.

Trustee Appelman commented that we’ve been putting in some non-native plants over the past three years.

He’d like to see what the park will look like in 20 years based on what the Trust Board is doing there through the improvements it’s going to make. He’d like a graphic presentation before making a decision about native versus non-native plantings. He supports removing invasives, such as holly, by using herbicides.

Paul agreed that for further public process graphic representation is needed even if it’s a schematic. He will make it his goal to have something ready for the booth at Summer Celebration!

Paul reminded the Board that the Pioneer Park Master Plan includes a list of the public comments made at the open house. There are a lot of comments indicating the desire to use only native plants and not use exotics.

Referring to the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board’s November 10, 1994, Policies for Protecting, Maintaining, and Preserving Mercer Island Open Space Conservancy Trust Properties document on Page 6, under Biological Resource Management, Director Mayer quoted from the document,
“Native plant species should be perpetuated over exotic species whenever possible, while at the same time, allowing natural evolutionary processes to proceed.”

“Where the landscape has been disturbed, either by natural causes such as floods, landslides, or by human impact such as trial building, maintenance, facility erection or human overuse, revegetation will be required will consist of native species as much as possible and will be accomplished with seed, cuttings, or transplants.”

“Where native species restoration has proved unsuccessful, improved varieties or similar native species may be used.”

The framework has been set forth in this document to give the Trust Board and staff the flexibility they need to develop the forest management plan and still maintain the theme of using non-native plants when it is appropriate.

Paul informed the Trust Board that he will have a draft plan of the Forest Management Plan finished by the end of the summer with public input completed by fall planting beginning in late October.

Paul will organize herbicide trials this summer. Two seasonal employees will use different amounts of Roundup on a section of ivy and a section of holly and try it at different times of the summer. It will be a controlled test.

Trillium
Chairperson Sutherland advised that she and Trustee Duvall are waiting to hear the results of the Conservation Futures Funding and the City Council’s acceptance of the Pioneer Park Improvements bid recommendation before they publish the Trillium.

New Business

Walk Across the Island
Trustee Pearman commented that the Walk Across the Island event on June 1, 2002 was organized in connection with National Trails Day and included two sections of Pioneer Park. The walkers stopped at the lookout in the northeast quadrant and enjoyed the beauty of the view. Thirty-five people attended. Trustee Pearman commented that this was a great event for families.

Other
Trustee Moore has offered to conduct native plant walks in conjunction with bird walks in Pioneer Park led by Judy Roan are scheduled for June 8 and June 30, 9 a.m.–Noon.

There is no Open Space Trust Board meeting on August 5, 2002.

The Open Space Trust Board, Ivy Brigade, and Backyard Habitats could share a booth at Summer Celebration! on July 13 and 14, 2002.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m. The next meeting is Thursday, July 18, 2002, 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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