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Thursday, September 18, 2003

Trustees Present:

Jim Owens, Ira Appelman, Rita Moore, Gail Magnuson, Jim Pearman, Marguerite Sutherland


Trustees Absent:

Bill Duvall



Paul West, Park Arborist

Stephanie Cangie, Administrative Assistant


The meeting was called to order at 7:40 p.m.


Approval of Minutes

Motion by Trustee Moore and seconded by Trustee Appelman to approve the minutes from the September 4, 2003 meeting with the following changes: 

Page 1:  under Approval of Minutes should read NW quadrant not NE quadrant.

Page 5:  first line should read:  Appelman wanted safety language included in the Plan; however,….

Page 5: under Endangered Species:  9th line, change to read Pearman believes that City ordinances restrict people from removing…

Unanimously approved.


Public Appearances

There were no public appearances.


Old Business

Forest Management Plan

Mission Statement – Trustee Pearman led the Trust Board in a discussion about developing its own mission statement referring to the Board’s by-laws as a spring board for this exercise.  In developing a mission statement, Trustree Pearman suggested three questions to be considered:

  1. Who we are
  2. What do we do
  3. To whom or for whom do we do it
  4. For what outcome


Each member worked separately to address these points and write a mission statement.  After some discussion, the Board concluded with the following draft mission statement:



The Mercer Island Open Space Conservancy Trust is a board of volunteer citizens appointed by the City Council to oversee open space properties placed in the trust as passive, low-impact recreational open space (park).  The Trust manages these properties to protect, maintain and preserve them as natural, scenic and recreational resources, maintaining all their ecological, scenic, aesthetic, scientific, and educational attributes for the current and future residents of Mercer Island in perpetuity.


The Board agreed to revisit the wording of the mission statement at its October 2, 2003 meeting.


Plan’s Goal/Vision – Chairman Owens distributed a handout of his suggested revisions to the forest management plan.  (See Attachment A).  Discussion was held regarding whether it is valuable to include more information about the resources in the park.  The Board agreed.


Motion by Trustee Moore directing the Arborist to include in the Forest Management Plan the meaning of the text provided by Chairman Owens as seen in Attachment A of these minutes.  Motion seconded by Trustee Sutherland. Unanimously approved.


Fire Management Section – Paul referred to Appendix M: Page 134 in the Draft Forest Management Plan.  This plan was a joint effort between the Parks and Recreation Department and the Mercer Island Fire Department.  The Fire Department said that if there was a fire in Pioneer Park, either the north fire station or the south fire station would respond.  There are some constraints in how they would respond.  Because there is no staff on Mercer Island trained in how to fight wildland fires, by regulations of Labor and Industries they are not allowed to fight a wildland fire for more than one hour.  The fire chief has said that practically speaking, that would not be a limitation, but they are not obligated and there is some constraint on their time once a wildland fire breaks out. 


There are mutual aid agreements between Mercer Island Fire Department and other regional fire departments. There are wildland fire trained firefighters on the east side as well as some equipment that would be useful in fighting this type of fire.   Off-duty staff could also be brought in to help fight a fire.  The Washington DNR’s (Department of Natural Resources) participation in this is not certain yet.  The Fire Commander is looking at the Carnation fire to see how DNR responded to it.  He is also finding out what DNR would be able to offer the City of Mercer Island’s Fire Department and the timing of their availability.  Typically their responses are geared towards very large fires where they take the time to assess the fire and they respond in several days rather than hours or minutes.


The EOC (Emergency Operations Center) protocol is:  lives, property, and incident stabilization.  Putting out a fire in Pioneer Park would be last priority, particularly if a fire happened near the perimeter of the park where there are homes. 


An analysis of where the fire hydrants are and what the access is to these hydrants has been done.  Generally the park has good hydrant access except in the NE quadrant where there are some areas that are fairly inaccessible from the hydrants because of the typography and the trails.  There are also some places where there are hydrants but no trails nearby.  One of the action items in this plan is to look at trail access for hydrants and possibly create new trails to allow hydrant access into the park.  Another action item being considered is acquiring a multi-use vehicle that would have a water tank on it for purposes of bringing water into the park for watering plants as well as fighting fires.  Also, with all the impending downtown Mercer Island developments, there’s a need for a vehicle that can go into tight places and places with low clearances such as parking garages to put out fires. 


The Fire Protection Plan offers two levels of action:  one is a vegetation management plan which expands on the idea of neighborhood partnerships where the City partners with people who live next to the park to manage the vegetation along the edges of the park to reduce the fire risk to their property.  A compromise will need to be met since many of these things run counter to the kind of forest management that we want to do in terms of reinforcing the edges and having downed wood debris.  What this plan is proposing is that along the edges of the park we do both habitat enhancement and fire mitigation to try and achieve dual goals.  The plan also includes some action items specific to the City departments providing each other information, looking into the possible purchase of vehicles and tools, researching more of what DNR’s response would be in the event of a fire, patrolling the park for encampments, and educating the citizens in general about reducing fire risk.


Chairman Owens asked if the Fire Department will do occasional inspections of wood piles, trash piles, or other possible fire situations.   Paul responded that this is the idea behind neighborhood partnerships—somebody from Fire and somebody from Parks goes out and visits with homeowners and work out the best way to manage the forest edge behind the homeowner’s house. 


Trustee Sutherland asked if the Fire Department checks the fire hydrants regularly.  Paul responded that he does not know the answer to this question; however, three or four of the hydrants along Island Crest Way were used this summer for watering.


Trustee Moore asked what the plan means by large woody debris in relation to the edges.  Is this small debris or large logs?  Paul said its more small debris and suggests this will be one of the areas of compromise.  The compromise between the Parks Department and the Fire Department will be different in each situation.


Trustee Appelman asked if the Fire Department will hold any fire drills—simulations--in Pioneer Park.  He asked if learning to fight a fire in Pioneer Park is on the fire department’s list of trainings.  He wants the Fire Department to practice so the Fire Plan can be fine tuned.


The Board directed Paul to ask someone from the Fire Department to attend a future Open Space Trust Board meeting to answer the Board’s questions regarding the fire plan for Pioneer Park. 



New Business

Open House – September 24, 2003, 5 to 7 p.m. at Pioneer Park.  The formal presentation will be at 6:00 p.m.  If it’s raining the alternate location is at Community Center at Mercer View. 


Fall Planting Day – This volunteer activity in Pioneer Park is set for October 25, 2003.  Chairman Owens and Paul will meet to determine what activities will be included for the volunteers.  Chairman Owens and Trustee Moore agreed to organize the Fall Planting Day.


Ravine Trail Bridge – Paul reported there is a good chance the contractor will have the appropriate insurance coverage by the time the pre-construction meeting is scheduled on Monday, September 22, 2003.  If the contractor has the necessary insurance construction will begin on Monday as well.


Off Agenda Items

Trustee Pearman reported that the Ivy Initiative will be on the March 2, 2004 ballot.  He also reported the need for a citizen to come forth and take the lead to write the pro statement for the Luther Burbank initiative for the voters pamphlet.  The deadline is Friday, September 19, 2003. 


Additional Meeting – The Board decided to have an additional meeting on Thursday, October 16, 2003, to do a final review of the Forest Management Plan before it goes before the City Council on October 20, 2003.


Next Meeting

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 2, 2003, at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. 


The meeting adjourned at 9:50 p.m.


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