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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Call To Order

Chairman Glick called the regularly scheduled Design Commission meeting to order at 7:40 PM in the Council Chambers, 9611 SE 36th Street, Mercer Island, Washington.

Roll Call

Carl Bryant, Bryan Caditz, Marcia Dawson, Chairman Fred Glick, Julie Parsons, and George Wittman were present. Vice Chairman Norman Sandler arrived at 7:55 PM.

Staff Present

Richard Hart, Development Services Director; Pete Mayer, Director of Parks and Recreation; and John Scandola, Associate Planner.


Commissioner Bryant moved, Commissioner Wittman seconded, to approve the minutes of October 8, 2003. The minutes were approved by a vote of 6-0.

Regular Business

Study Session (No action to be taken): The applicant, Miller/Hull Partnership for the Mercer Island City Council, proposes to construct a new 42,400 square foot, multi-purpose community center facility consisting of two levels, improved auto ingress and egress, and parking for 222 vehicles. The main level includes a main lobby/gallery space, program/meeting space, and administrative offices. The lower level includes a gymnasium, fitness, and dance area. This proposal includes minor renovations and upgrades to Building ‘D’.

Bryan Cairns, Deputy Vice Mayor and Council Liaison to the Design Commission, gave a brief summary of the history of this project. He indicated that this proposal has been discussed and debated for a number of years by City Council and the community and that there have been many version of this proposal. He also indicated that City Council has determined that the $13.1 million budget and timeline is firm and now is the time to move forward with this project.

Richard Hart, Director of Development Services, summarized the staff report. Mr. Hart indicated that public projects only require a review with suggestions by the Design Commission and not a formal Preliminary and Final Design Review as is the case for private development projects. However, the proposed Community Center will be presented to the Design Commission for a Study Session so the Commissioners can make suggestions and the community will have an opportunity to comment on the design of the project. Mr. Hart also indicated that there will be a SEPA determination for this project and a traffic study will be completed in November. .

Vice Chairman Sandler arrived at 7:55 PM.

Bob Hull of Miller/Hull Partnership, 911 Western Avenue, Room 220, Seattle, WA; Todd Black of The Portico Group, 217 Pine Street, Seattle, WA; Carla Allbee of Albee Romein, 911 Western Avenue, Room 201, Seattle, WA; and Andrew Golding of Andrew Golding Sign Consultants, 1056 25th Avenue E., Seattle WA, represented the applicant. The applicant summarized the overall site layout, the building design, exterior materials, signage, and how the building relates to the landscaping, topography, and the surrounding land uses.

The Design Commission asked the applicant and staff questions regarding the following issues:

  • Why the originally proposed detention/retention pond has been eliminated and why it could not be implemented as an amenity to the site,
  • The slope of the pedestrian path that leads to the pea patch,
  • How this site will be integrated with Luther Burbank Park,
  • How the existing cottonwood trees along the west property line block views of the lake and mountains,
  • How children will be dropped off for pre-school and if safety issues have been considered,
  • If designated children play areas will be adjacent to the parking lot,
  • How the proposed building has been dug into the hillside to limit its scale when viewed from the west,
  • The importance of considering how the roofs will look since it will be so visible to the neighbors to the west,
  • The possibility of using tile faced masonry instead of the proposed concrete and CMU blocks,
  • How public art will be incorporated into this proposal,

Chairman Glick opened the public testimony portion of the meeting and there were comments from the following citizens:

John Rose, 3066 67th Avenue SE: Mr. Rose indicated that there were aspects of the proposal that he did like. He also indicated that the Tukwila Community Center is bigger than this proposal and is cheaper per square foot. He feels that the proposed parking lot is not adequate for the demand and may result in too much on-street parking. He also thinks that diagonal parking is more effective and safer than the proposed parking configuration.

Johnny Ewald, 4103 Boulevard Place: Mr. Ewald stated that the drop off for daycare at the current facility is troublesome and unsafe and that special attention must be given to this issue. He also indicated that a walkway should be placed through the middle of the parking lot and angled parking should be considered. He feels that efforts should be made to integrate this facility with Luther Burbank Park.

The Design Commission offered the following suggestions to the applicant for this proposal:


  • Examine the use of tile faced masonry as well as ground faced masonry.
  • Examine modulating sections of the wall adjacent to the primary entranceway to establish a rhythm similar to the cantilevered wall sections of the east elevation.
  • Consider maintaining the clerestory windows located on the east wall of the gymnasium.
  • Continue studying the front entry with its canopy and allow it to be more dynamic and inviting as the terrace area at the southeast corner of the building.
  • Study ways to add more light to the interior hallway.
  • Study the stairway on the north elevation exterior. This stairwell needs some material support, possibly brick or textured concrete, under each stair landing.
  • The elongated roofs should be better expressed on the south, west, and east elevations.
  • Consider adding an outdoor covered area outside of the senior daycare area.

Pedestrian Connections

  • Consider adding a sidewalk that runs from the street directly to the entrance adjacent to the auto entry. With the long circuitous ADA path that winds to the entranceway, people will likely walk through the entry drive which will likely create safety issues.
  • The path to the pea patch should be constructed at a grade of 5% or less to ensure a reasonable grade for pedestrians.
  • Consider adding a pedestrian walkway through the center of the parking area to improve access and safety to the building entry and adding angled parking stalls which will facilitate the accessing of the stalls.
  • Examine adding a more direct path that connects the circular walkway adjacent to the accessible parking spaces and Building ‘D’. The currently proposed ADA path is circuitous due to the grade. However, people will create their own short cut in an effort to directly access this building.


  • Examine removing the cottonwood trees along the east property line or replace the cottonwoods with less dense landscaping to ensure the views of the lake and the mountains.
  • Consider planting trees that have a caliper of at least 2”. Trees of a larger caliper will have more of a positive visual impact, better screen the facility from the surrounding residences, and provide a more aesthetic street appearance.
  • Consider using more native plant material and “green” landscaping.
  • Examine adding some taller (with the ultimate height of 40-50 feet), larger canopied trees to the parking lot area. However, these trees should not block views of the lake and mountains.

Special Features

  • Consider maintaining the originally proposed detention pond and implementing this feature as an amenity to the overall project.
  • Consider creating stronger connections to Luther Burbank Park. These physical and functional connections could include more pedestrian paths, architectural integration of the proposed facility, and landscaping that could provide more of a physical connection.
  • Special consideration should be given to safety associated with drop-off areas for children. Any play areas should be away from the parking lot and children need to be able to safely access the facility and Luther Burbank Park.

The Design Commission thanked the applicant for the presentation. No further comments were offered.

Other Business


9:42 PM

Council Liaison Report:

Next Regular Meeting:
The next Design Commission meeting is scheduled for November 12, 2003 at 7:30 PM.

Commissioner Absences:
All Commissioners indicated that they could attend the next meeting.

[Important Note: The proceedings of the Design Commission meeting were recorded on tape and are on file with the Development Services Group. The complete agenda and official minutes of this meeting are also available from the Development Services Group.]


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