Frequently Asked Questions
What is CCMIP?
CCMIP is the acronym for Concerned Citizens for Mercer Island Parks, a group of Islanders working to save Mercerdale Park from private development.
In 2015, the Mercer Island City Council proposed to lease, for $1 a year, nearly an acre of Mercerdale Park to MICA, a private organization, so they could construct a 28,000 square-foot building. The construction would have destroyed Bicentennial Park, the Native Plant Garden and would have threatened nearby wetlands.
CCMIP strongly supports Youth Theater Northwest and the arts. We simply oppose the taking of millions of dollars worth of public property and popular amenities from the citizens to be given to a private organization without a democratic vote by those citizens.
CCMIP has repeatedly asked MICA to rescind the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with the City to demonstrate their good faith that they will not build their facility in Mercerdale Park, but although MICA is currently working to procure a different site, they have not yet agreed to rescind the MOU.
Hasn't the Native Plant Garden become just an overgrown and non-maintained space? Wouldn't an arts center be an improvement?
Our Mercer Island Parks Department, assisted by a group of community volunteers, maintains the Native Plant Garden. Since the summer of 2015, in addition to publicity and advocacy for the protection of the parkland, CCMIP raised money for the purchase of native plants and supervised, under the direction of the Mercer Island Parks Department, over two dozen volunteers who donated over 850 hours of physical labor to restore, enhance, maintain and protect the Native Plant Garden. Volunteers cleared extensive areas of native blackberries by hand, spread over 13 truckloads of wood chip mulch, planted 185+ native plants along the winding paths throughout the Native Plant Garden, watered the new plants weekly throughout the summer, and introduced visitors to native species.
In order to educate Mercer Islanders about the value of the Native Plant Garden, CCMIP:
conducted tours of the Native Plant Garden during Mercer Island’s annual Summer Celebration festivals and weekly summer Farmers Markets
celebrated the Native Plant Garden with inter-generational sing-alongs,
masterminded a “Red Zone” community awareness day at the Native Plant Garden
conducted a summer Junior Naturalist Training Program for children and teens at the Native Plant Garden led by WNPS Plant Stewards and Audubon Society Master Birders
applied for and received a grant from the Washington Native Plant Society for the purchase of permanent signs for 54 native plants—including 19 with color photos
developed 12 “Bird of the Month” and 12 “Plant of the Month” posters, highlighting native species, which were designed, printed and posted each month, beginning in May 2018, on the Native Plant Garden entrance signboard
Currently, residents and visitors to the Island -- including Town Center employees on their lunch breaks--enjoy the trails and benches, and families with children especially appreciate the plant identification signage.
What's Up With MICA at the Tully's location?
The City, MICA and the developer (Mainstreet LLC) are in exclusive negotiations to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on how the property will be developed and the respective responsibilities of each party -- including how MICA will raise the funds for a performing arts center. The City estimates that this process will take 6 - 9 months. Separately, a group of residents have filed an appeal to the State's Growth Management Hearings Board alleging that the City didn't follow proper procedures in passing a 2018 Comprehensive Plan Amendment related to the Tully's zoning designation. It's unclear how quickly that appeal will be heard, and if successful, what it means for the project.
Will MICA return to the Mercerdale site if the Tully's location "fails"?
While current MICA leadership have repeatedly said that they are no longer interested in the Mercerdale Park site, the 2016 MOU that allows MICA to execute an 80-year lease for a parcel of land at Mercerdale Park is still valid, and MICA refuses to terminate that agreement. Thus, while many believe what MICA says, their actions suggest that they could easily pivot back to Mercerdale Park.