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Thursday, March 07, 2002

Open Space Trust Board members present
Marguerite Sutherland, Chairperson, Ira Appelman, Bill Duvall, Jim Owens, Robert Stagman

Open Space Trust Board members absent
Jim Pearman, Gail Magnuson

Pete Mayer, Director, Mercer Island Parks and Recreation
Paul West, Park Arborist
Stephanie Cangie, Administrative Assistant


There were no public appearances.

Approval of Minutes

Minutes of February 7, 2002 were unanimously approved.

Old Business

Master Plan Implementation
Paul West informed that the consultants from MacLeod Reckord are not at tonight’s meeting because they do not have enough material to present to the Board, but will have adequate information for the next meeting on April 4, 2002. Paul shared construction documents with the Board.

The documents from the consultant will include a sector-by-sector map that will have all the improvements including details of the entries that are being improved, with a separate detail for each entry. These plan sheets will be available at the Parks and Recreation Department for Board members to stop by and peruse.

Paul has reviewed the route of the proposed ravine trail which will include an overlook of the stream. He is confident the ravine trail will be a loop trail. The ravine loop trail will be two feet wide, a single track, made of mineral soil. Paul will be going to the site with the consultants during the next few weeks. He estimates the ravine loop trail will be approximately one third to one quarter mile in length.

Pete Mayer said that the City Manager and City Attorney are aware of interest in making a connection between Pioneer Park and East Mercer Way. City Council is interested in identifying open space properties as well as strategic parcels that might connect existing open space and in pursuing those for acquisition when appropriate. The City Attorney will be involved in all discussions concerning purchase of such properties. The City Attorney cautions the Trust not to discuss such acquisitions until the steps are clearly delineated.

Chairperson Sutherland reported that she spoke with Michelle Connor at Cascade Conservancy Trust. This business works with governmental bodies and private individuals in arranging transfers of land or easements. In some instances, owners are more receptive to making arrangements with land trusts. Trustee Owens stated that the Cascade Conservancy Trust already holds some land on Mercer Island. One of the advantages of the initial contact being made by a neutral third party is that all the options can be laid out for the property owner. Cascade Land Trust also puts together funding packages which can include state, county, and private money, in addition to city money.

Trustee Appelman reminded the Board that it would be up to City Council to acquire the land, and then the land might be conveyed to the Trust. He suggested that the Trust Board talk to City Council and encourage it to investigate the possibility of acquiring open space.

The Board directed Pete Mayer to convey to the City Council the Trust Board’s interest in having the city acquire open space. Director Mayer will keep the Board informed of any progress.

Forest Management
Paul West distributed a new planning calendar and went over changes from the previous calendar. He showed the Board results of a boundary survey that was conducted as part of the Master Plan implementation. He pointed out boundary trees and encroachments that Parks and Recreation will be addressing. Property corners have been marked with fiberglass boundary markers. He is contracting with the Wilderness Awareness School to conduct a wildlife inventory of the park. Judy Roan will be reviewing the bird list developed by Merilyn Hathaway. The bird walks are scheduled for May 4, June 8, June 30. Paul is researching the existing information on the stream and will be contracting with Sheldon and Associates to conduct a biological assessment of the stream and related wetlands.

The outline of the planning process previously presented to the Board is now on the City’s Website. Pete Mayer noted that the walk-through that the Board conducted was reported in the City’s Inside News. He distributed copies of the article.

Paul proposed two methods of getting public input on the forest management plan. One is the public walk-through on May 11. The other is a questionnaire that would be distributed to the mailing list for the park and also be available on the City’s Web site and advertised in the park on posters. These would be due back around the time of the walk-through. Additional public input opportunities could be provided at the July meeting when the preliminary plan is presented to the Board. Trustee Duvall suggested sending the questionnaire out with the Trillium. Paul expressed concern about casting the net too wide.

Paul asked the Trust Board to go through the questionnaire with him and give input on the goal questions. The Board gave some input on the first questions. Trustee Appelman questioned how the results of this would be used to develop goals. He asked that the forest management issues be summarized for reaction by the Board and the public. Discussion ensued about the strategy for a scoping exercise. Trustee Owens commented that a scoping process allows the staff to uncover issues that they might not think about on their own, and asking these questions now keeps you from having to put out fires at the end of the process. Trustee Duvall pointed out that parts of the park have deteriorated and might be treated differently than other areas. Trustee Appelman questioned what decisions should be asked of the public, e.g. which of the Edmonds’s alternatives should be used to deal with root rot. He felt that the Board should wait to go to the public until it knows what decisions it wants to ask them. He wanted specific detailed explanations of the issues presented.

Trustee Stagman suggested drafting these questions on a spectrum giving the respondent less latitude in answering the questions. Trustee Appelman made a motion that Paul should draft a forest management preliminary plan reviewed by the board and the board then would decide what questions should be sent to the public for answers. There was no second to the motion.

Trustee Stagman suggested that the staff articulate preliminary assumptions for a plan and review those with the public. Trustee Owens said he wasn’t attached to the questionnaire but that he thinks it would be foolish to move forward with a forest management plan without some scoping. He suggested that it be done in such a fashion that it doesn’t appear that the decisions have already been made and that it elicits enough comments that tease out issues that may not have already been raised. He felt an opportunity for general comment is important.

Paul said that he would prepare a list of assumptions and scenarios for the next board meeting. Trustee Appelman thought that the board needs to know what the choices are. He would like to see schematics of what it could be in 30 years. Paul explained that there is a matrix of variables within the criteria of “continuous canopy”. Trustee Owens suggested an outline of critical forest issues and presenting a verbal picture of options. Trustee Duvall suggested that there are a lot of things covered in the questionnaire that aren’t critical issues, such as nurse logs.

Trustee Owens asked if Paul had a sense of mesocarnivores, raccoons and feral cats, or catbirds in the park. Paul said he didn’t. Trustee Appelman asked about the effects of having dogs in the park. Paul said that this is an issue that we will want to consider because the current guidelines for the park allow dogs off-leash.
Trustee Duvall asked Paul his problem with silver maple. Paul replied that there is nothing to recommend them over the native big leaf maples, and they aren’t native. Trustee Duvall asked if there were any plants that had been put in that should be taken out. Paul said no. He said that the feedback we got from the master plan process indicated that there is strong public opinion about using only natives.

Chairman Sutherland suggested that progress on the Trillium be reported at the next meeting.

New Business

Trustee Appelman reported that the Open Space Conservancy Trust Board is now 10 years old, celebrating its anniversary on February 10, 2002.

Transfer of Additional Properties
The Board asked the Director to provide at the April 4, 2002 meeting, a list of currently city-owned open space properties not in the Trust, i.e. Gallagher Hill, the hillside of Mercerdale Park, SE 53rd, the western part of Island Crest Park. The Trust also wants to know what the process is to get these properties transferred into the Trust.

Off Agenda Items

Paul West distributed a copy of a public notice indicating Toshi’s Teriyaki applied to install a sign, 4’ x 5’, in the QFC shopping mall, that might face Pioneer Park on 68th Street.

The Board agreed that it does not want this sign to face the park. Chairman Sutherland will convey the Trust Board’s opinion to the Design Commission.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for April 4, 2002, 7:30 p.m.

[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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