Open Space Conservancy Trust - Minutes Thursday, April 12, 2012
Call To Order:
Chair Newman called the meeting to order at 6:01 pm in the City Council Chambers of City Hall.
Trustees Joel Wachs, Geri Poor, Don Cohen, Council Liaison Jane Meyer Brahm, Chair Elliot Newman, Vice Chair Bob Thorpe, and Secretary Tina Lanzinger were present.
Bruce Fletcher, Parks & Recreation Director
Paul West, Parks Natural Resource Coordinator
Alaine Sommargren, Natural Resource Specialist
Trustee Cohen recommended two amendments to the minutes: Page 1 under “Appearances”, last line of the paragraph, change “site” to “sight” and Page 2 under “Kiosk Area Rerouting”, 5th paragraph, 3rd line – insert the word “probably” between “would” and “warrant.”
It was moved by Trustee Cohen, seconded by Council Liaison Meyer Brahm, to: Approve the minutes of February 9, 2012 as amended.
Motion passed 7-0
Lina Rose, project manager at Earthcorps and a resident of West Seattle, came to introduce herself to the Trustees and make herself available to them for any questions they might have about volunteer projects in Pioneer Park. She also wanted to attend this meeting to get a sense of the Trust Boards priorities and/or big picture so she can pass it on to her volunteers.
Letterboxing Update – Elliot Newman
Chair Newman, who is now serving in a liaison capacity to the program, gave a brief update on the 2012 Letterboxing Program. The program will kick off on June 2nd at National Trails Day.
Pioneer Park Book Update – Paul West
Paul West reported that the most recent print version of “Pioneer Park –A Natural History” will soon be available for sale at Island Books.
2012 Open Board Positions– Bruce Fletcher
Bruce Fletcher reported that two positions on the Trust Board are coming vacant in May and the City has started the recruitment process. He encouraged the outgoing Trustees (Cohen and Lanzinger) to reapply and thanked them for their service.
Annual Report to Council – Paul West
Paul West presented the draft of the 2011 Annual Report to the Trustees for review and comment. Chair Newman suggested Trustees provide their feedback to Paul West via email. Paul and Chair Newman will finalize the report based on feedback and present it to Council at the June 18th City Council Meeting.
2012 Work Plan and Meeting Dates – Paul West
Paul West reviewed the scheduled meeting dates for 2012. Several items were left off the draft Work Plan, so Paul will send out an updated plan to the Trustees via email.
Tobacco Policy in Parks – Bruce Fletcher
Bruce Fletcher reported that he brought an initiative to the City Council to stop tobacco use in City Parks. City Council decided to support a tobacco free campaign in Mercer Island parks that contain children’s facilities such as playgrounds and athletic fields.
There was discussion about the desire for this policy to be applied to Pioneer Park as well, and Trustee Cohen proposed a motion.
It was moved by Trustee Cohen, seconded by Trustee Thorpe, to:
Bring to the City Council the following message:
At the March 19, 2012 City Council meeting, the Council discussed a tobacco-free parks proposal, and eventually passed a motion to begin a tobacco-free parks campaign at all Mercer Island Parks with children’s facilities. Some of the Council discussion, and the wording of the motion, seemed to suggest that Pioneer Park would not be included in the Council motion, because it did not have playground equipment, sports fields, or other facilities more traditionally thought of in the context of “children’s facilities”.
The Open Space Conservancy Trust has the responsibility to make recommendations to the City Council regarding public use of Trust properties. The Trust Board discussed the City Council’s March 19th motion at its April 12, 2012 meeting. Although Pioneer Park may not have slides and swings, ballfields, or other more traditional children’s play facilities, a significant focus of the Trust’s work is to educate our residents about Pioneer Park from an early age, and, thus, encourage greater use of Pioneer Park by Island children. For example, the Trust will have for the third consecutive year, a summer-long “Letterboxing Program” that will have children in Pioneer Park solving and searching for “natural” clues, and learning basic nature identification and orienteering skills. The Mercer Island Saddle Club also regularly uses Pioneer Park, and a significant part of their ridership is youth. The Trust is also engaged in efforts to coordinate with Earth Corps, the scouts, the scouts, public schools, and Sunnybeam School, on activities involving children in Pioneer Park.
With all due respect to the Council, the Trust believes that Pioneer Park should be included in the City’s tobacco-free parks campaign, like other Mercer Island parks. Not only are children’s activities in Pioneer Park a significant focus of the Trust’s work, but the “message” to our children and grandchildren that many places on the Island are tobacco-free, for all the reasons the Council considered, but tobacco use is “okay” in Pioneer Park, is inconsistent with the very important values a “preserve” like Pioneer Park brings to our community. Furthermore, fire risk mitigation in Pioneer Park is an issue the City Fire Chief has briefed the Trust and City staff on on several occasions over the years.
These considerations are true of the Engstrom Open Space, as well as Pioneer Park.
The Open Space Conservancy Trust Board strongly urges and recommends to the City Council that it clarify, or if necessary, reconsider, its March 19, 2012 motion regarding a tobacco-free parks campaign at Mercer Island parks, so that it is clear that Pioneer Park and the Engstrom Open Space are included in this program.
Motion passed 7-0
Some discussion took place and the italicized portions of the above motion were added to the original motion.
It was moved by Trustee Cohen, seconded by Trustee Thorpe, to: Accept the amendments to the above motion.
Motion passed 7-0
Chair Newman stated he would be at a Council meeting in June to present this information. Council Liaison Meyer Brahm stated her intention to include this motion in her Council Member report at the next City Council meeting.
Other Topics – Elliot Newman
The Trustees discussed a few items that might be added to the 2012 Workplan. This will be finalized at the June meeting.