OPEN SPACE CONSERVANCY TRUST
Update (as of 5/18/18):
At the Thursday, May 17th meeting of the Open Space Conservancy Trust, the board accepted the City's recommendation to take no action on CCMIP's request to place all our parks into the conservancy trust.
CCMIP’s request stemmed from numerous attempts by the Council to sell or develop our parks (among them: permitting a commercial marina in Luther Burbank Park, developing upper Luther Burbank Park for staff housing, placing the fire station in Mercerdale Park, placing city hall in Mercerdale Park, placing MICA in Mercerdale Park and paving Kite Hill for a surface lot for off-Island commuters).
Approximately 20 citizens attended the meeting and about 10 spoke-all in support of the request. The Board members were extraordinarily polite and sympathetic to the purpose of CCMIP's request, but just felt overseeing all the active parks was not possible. They felt creating some kind of trust or deed restriction to prevent the sale or development of our parks is an issue for the City Council.
CCMIP is reviewing options on how to pursue the idea of affording all parks greater protections.
Update (as of 1/25/18):
The Open Space Conservancy Trust Board voted at its Jan. 18 meeting to add an agenda item to its 2018 work plan to discuss the addition of parks and open spaces to the trust.
This action was prompted by the Concerned Citizens for Mercer Island Parks’ request.
In 1969, Islanders had voted against a golf course in Pioneer Park, but development interests continued to agitate for a golf course, so finally the City Council put the park safely in the Trust.
Similarly, for over 40 years, development interests have agitated to fill Mercerdale Park with buildings:
- In 1973, the School District tried to sell Mercerdale for commercial development, but a vote was required and Islanders voted NO.
- In 1985, City Council candidates advocating a Civic Center Plan for Mercerdale were rejected by Island voters.
- In 1987, Islanders voted down a plan to put City Hall in Mercerdale Park.
- In 1997, a petition drive killed a City plan to build the fire station in the park.
As with Pioneer Park, it is clear development interests will continue to agitate to fill Mercerdale with buildings unless the park is placed off-limits. MICA is simply the latest scheme.
It's time to once-and-for-all protect Mercerdale Park from future attacks by placing it in the Trust.
What is needed now:
A vote of the City Council is required to place a City property in the Trust. In practice, if at least four of seven City Councilmembers favor putting Mercerdale Park into the Trust, that action would appear as an agenda item at a regular meeting of the City Council. After public input, staff recommendation, and Council discussion, the full City Council would vote.
Find further information related to the Mercer Island Open Space Conservancy Trust here.