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Thursday, September 05, 2002

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

Paul West, Arborist
Stephanie Cangie, Administrative Assistant

Approval of Minutes

The minutes of June 7, 2002 were unanimously approved.


Chris Soelling
8829 SE 60th
Mercer Island WA 98040
Mr. Soelling is concerned about being able to continue mountain biking on the new ravine trail. The Board assured him that before they would make a decision about mountain bikes on the trails, they would request public input. The Board promised to inform Mr. Soelling if they plan to discuss this issue. Mr. Soelling explained the impact of mountain bikes on the trail. He thinks the new ravine trail is excellent.

Trustee Pearman suggested that if the mountain bikers are responsible for each other and respectful of the walkers, the presence of the mountain bikes will not be a problem.

Old Business

Master Plan Implementation Update

Pioneer Park Improvements
Paul reported there are two different trail surfacings being applied. In the southeast quadrant the surface is a mixture of sand and quarter-inch-minus gravel. According to the contractor, who is an expert on trail surfacing, this is the preferred surface for equestrians. On the other trails receiving new surfacing, the surface is quarter inch minus gravel without sand mixed into it. It seems loose and fluffy now because it was installed quite recently, but as soon as it rains it will set up to a hard surface similar to “soft” concrete.

As the implementation of the improvements has unfolded, decisions have been made to reroute the trails slightly in a couple of places. One is at the north end of the park on Island Crest Way where the horse trail comes into the park. Some laurel bushes were removed and the trail straightened out to give better visibility. In the southeast quadrant there are a couple of places where the trail went between trees and was very narrow. The trail was rerouted to avoid the trees. In the northeast quadrant on the north side of SE 68th there was a place where the trail took a radical turn on a trail that is primarily straight along SE 68th and went around a willow tree. The trail was rerouted around the other side of the willow tree to get a straighter trail.

During the construction most of the trees designated for removal have not been removed. The trail was rerouted to avoid removal. Thus far the only tree removed was at the north end of the NW quadrant on Island Crest Way where the equestrian trail comes into the park. There was an alder leaning towards the fence of a home and so it was removed.

To minimize impact on the roots by the contractor’s bobcat, Paul worked with the contractor to develop a system of putting gravel or native soil over the roots to protect them before driving the bobcat over the roots. In some cases where roots are getting skinned the tree was already dead.

Paul reported that he has received a lot of public comment concerning the closing off of the crossing at the east end of SE 68th where the road curves and goes down the hill. A few sections of post and rail fencing were installed. When that occurred, the crosswalk had not been opened up for use. Due to the number of phone calls commenting on this change, the contractor worked quickly to get the crosswalk ready.

Trustee Magnuson met Paul and the contractor at the job site to solve issues with the horse crossing at Island Crest Way and SE 68th. Instead of having the horses go to the SE 68th side of that intersection and then try to get up to the crosswalk, the horse riders will come where the bus stop is and then ride along Island Crest Way. Trustee Magnuson conferred with the Saddle Club board and they agreed this was a better routing because the horses can be visible to the cars that are coming into that continuous turn lane and can see each other to negotiate the crossing. A couple of sections of post and rail fencing will be installed to keep the horses separate from the traffic coming into the turn lane. The fencing will force the horses to be funneled down to where the crosswalk is. Mounting blocks will be installed near the intersection so riders can dismount and walk their horse across.

Another suggestion, which may be considered, is to install a crosswalk further south on Island Crest Way going from the Saddle Club across Island Crest Way to the SE Quadrant. Right now the horses have to come along Island Crest Way to the busy intersection of 68th SE and Island Crest Way and cross at one of the crosswalks and then go back down heading south. This proposed crosswalk would allow the equestrians to get to the main horse trail with more ease. There is no funding for this crosswalk at this time but there might be money left over from the contingency budget. The Trust Board agreed to discuss this use of money remaining from the contingency fund at its October 3, 2002 meeting.

Trail Maintenance
Paul commented that during the last two summers the Parks Maintenance department has provided seasonal labor to Pioneer Park to do trail work. The concern is how to pay for maintenance the other six to eight months of the year. The new trail surface will occasionally require dragging to pull the soil back into the middle as the trails are worn. Director Mayer is including an increment of $5,000 in the 2003-2004 proposed budget. In the event this amount is not approved, other funding sources will need to be identified. Paul suggested a cooperative relationship with the Saddle Club to do some of the maintenance, especially in the SE Quadrant where the horses churn up the trail the most. The City would need to purchase a tool to drag the trails. Steep slopes would have to be hand worked. It takes an expert about twenty minutes to drag the entire SE Quadrant. The Trust Board concurred that maintaining the newly improved trails is essential, particularly in view of the recent expense incurred and would save money in the long term.

Dedication Ceremony The Trust Board agreed to have a public dedication of the new trail system on Saturday, October 12, 2002, at 11 a.m. Staff will take care of publicity, invitations, program, set up, break down, and giveaways. The Trust Board will supply snacks and beverages and conduct a guided tour along the new ravine trail.

Fall Planting
October 26, 2002 is the fall planting day. Trustee Appelman wondered how the City keeps track of the plants, especially those that have died. Paul stated that the City does do follow up. The two-year survival rate on the new plantings has been good. The same crew that does the planting in the fall comes back in the spring and performs one weeding. The interior plantings are difficult to water whereas the ones along Island Crest Way are easy to get to. You have to weigh the cost of getting water to the interior plants versus the cost of the plants. Trustee Appelman suggested that the planting and weeding locations be noted on the City’s GPS.

Property Acquisition/East Mercer Way Connection
Paul is optimistic that the City will get the Conservation Futures Fund of $100,000. It still requires the final approval from King County Council in late September. This money would purchase the property and easements to connect Pioneer Park trails to East Mercer Way in the NE Quadrant.

Forest Management Plan
Paul showed the Trust Board drawings setting forth the progression of the tree canopy from the present to how the forest might appear in 20 years. The data from Bob Edmunds at the University of Washington has been plotted on the map. The red circles represent canopy gaps and their relative size. The black circles represent trees with root rot. The NE quadrant has the most gaps and the SE quadrant has the least. Paul believes there are more trees with root rot than stated in Bob Edmund’s report from 1998. Stand units have also been delineated. A stand is a grouping of trees that are similar in character, not necessarily homogeneous, but are consistently the same throughout the group. There will be two guiding principals that Paul will use when explaining the condition of the forest in the forest management plan—one, the gaps, and two, the stands.

Trustee Owens asked if the forest management plan will include identifying snags with cavity nesters in them. Paul responded that although this is useful, he does not have the skill to do it. It was suggested that someone from the Audubon Society could make these identifications. Paul advised that he would like to identify big trees in the forest that are four feet in diameter or greater.

The ravine which has a different ecosystem than the other quadrants, will be identified in the forest management plan. Paul commented that the understory throughout the NW and NE Quadrants is predominately sword fern and elderberry.

Paul advised the Board that he has done some herbicide tests in Deane’s Children’s Park. He has cut down holly, drilled the stumps, and injected Round Up. Paul showed the Board a repipetor. It measures out an exact dose of solution. He will be checking the stumps to see if the solution is killing off the holly. In Pioneer Park he will measure how much he puts into each tree, measure the diameter of the tree, and tag each tree. He can then evaluate how much die back he gets in relation to the tree size and amount of chemical used. In Pioneer he will leave the tree standing and cut back the branches needed to get to the trunk. This causes less disturbance to the forest.

Encroachment Letter
Paul proposed a letter to be sent to those property owners whose usage extends over their property line into Pioneer Park. He shared a map showing the various encroachments. He has met with the City Attorney who has advised that there are two choices: one is to ask the property owner to move whatever they have that is encroaching, or two, write up an encroachment agreement. An encroachment agreement says the property owner can have their improvement on park property but there may be a fee involved and the City can revoke the agreement at any time. The suggested letter proposes that the property owner and the City restore as many encroachments as possible.

Trustee Appelman questioned if the encroachment agreement is consistent with the ordinance and the Board’s responsibility in managing the property. The Trust Board discussed what role it should take in approaching citizens about these encroachments. Trustee Pearman believes this is a matter between the City Attorney and the landowners. He advised he does not think the Board should be offering advice to the landowners about how to restore the property that is rightfully the City’s. He suggested the City Attorney come to one of the Trust Board’s meetings and explain the procedure for approaching landowners about encroachments. He thinks the letter drafted is okay, but he is not comfortable with the Board getting into land use disputes with citizens. The Board agreed to edit the letter eliminating the word “nevertheless.

Paul stated that in his opinion, the forest condition is not going to be served by neighbors who don’t care. If the City tells the neighbors to never touch the park because it is public property, then they won’t give the City the adjacent cooperation it needs. Paul’s hope is that the people whose property backs up to the park will want to care for and watch over the park.

Trustee Owens asked what will be done about user-built trails that often lead to a person’s home. Paul said that from a forest health point of view, these type of trails are not a problem. These types of trails can create interest and ownership in the park.

Hazardous Trees
Paul has identified ten to twelve trees, mostly alders, that are potential hazards. Some will be made into snags. About half of the these trees are dead. He will use some of the funds in the Forest Management CIP fund to perform this work.

He also reported that east of Island Crest Way on the south side of SE 68th Street there are previously topped Douglas Fir trees that need to be re-topped over a few year because they are hazardous to the power lines. Also, in the area beneath the power lines where Puget Sound Energy did a demonstration project several years ago, there are some big leaf maples resprouting. Paul has talked to Puget Sound Energy about coming back and recutting the maple sprouts.

Chairman Sutherland advised that the project is making good progress.

New Business

Trustee Appelman asked about logs on primitive trails that make it difficult for a dog to go over. Trustee Magnuson stated that the horse riders like to have logs across primitive trails. Trustee Appelman suggested that the SE Quadrant could have logs across the primitive trails but the remainder of the quadrants have the logs moved.


The meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m. Next regularly scheduled meeting is Thursday, October 3, 2002, 7:30 p.m., 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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