Parks, Recreation, and Open Space (PROS) Plan

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A blue and green logo that says 2020 PROS Plan: Envision, Engage, Experience. Logo includes a smiling frog standing up and waving.

Pausing the PROS Plan Process

Community input and engagement are critical to the success of the 2020 PROS Plan. Due to the ongoing impacts of the evolving coronavirus pandemic, we are unable to fully involve the community so have decided to postpone the planning process. We will share updates periodically on Let’s Talk, so check back to learn more about when and how to reengage in the planning process.

Pausing the PROS Plan Process

Community input and engagement are critical to the success of the 2020 PROS Plan. Due to the ongoing impacts of the evolving coronavirus pandemic, we are unable to fully involve the community so have decided to postpone the planning process. We will share updates periodically on Let’s Talk, so check back to learn more about when and how to reengage in the planning process.

Guest Book

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On March 4, 2020: Dear Ryan Daly, My name is Sue Jung, and I live on Mercer Island with my husband and 2 children. Since all our family members are tennis players, it came to our attention that there are no indoor tennis courts on Mercer Island. It was quite surprising to us. It rains half of the year in this region that how anybody on the island find a way to play tennis during the rainy season? Many juniors/adults’ tennis players on the island have no place to train on the island during the rainy season (which often is longer than 7 to 8 month) so we travel far outside of the island to find indoor courts to get our training done. Mercer Island Country Club is the only club on the island has indoor courts however, it is limited to members and therefore, overly crowded and hard to reserve courts even for members. Other cities like Seattle or Bellevue already have their public indoor tennis facilities. (Robinswood, Amy Yee, Sand Point) I have a son who is in middle school playing competitive tennis. Every week, he has to travel from Mercer island to Kirkland to get his tennis training. We spend average of 1.5 hrs on the road roundtrip every time we take our son to his tennis training. It is not only for my son, but for most of if not all the junior tennis players on Mercer Island are going through the same things as my son. We often wish, there were indoor courts on the island. It is so difficult to find a balance between sports training time with study for student athletes. I can’t imagine If we have an option to stay on the island to train, it will save so much time on traveling so we could use that time to do their homework and eat proper dinner at home. There are 5 public outdoor courts on the island but none of them are being used during the rainy season. Especially the courts in Luther Burbank are not being used even during the sunny season due to the outdated court condition. Are there any ways that we can transform any one of these courts to indoor tennis courts? Even if just putting up a bubble over the courts during the rainy season would be a great help. We believe that having an indoor facility will benefit a lot of people on the island to stay active and healthy during the rainy season as well. Please Let us know if there is anything we can do to help and what we need to do to make this happen. Thank you for your time and consideration and we look forward to further discuss about it. Sincerely, Sue Jung

Sarah Bluvas 3 months ago

On December 30: I’m not sure who to contact but I would like to put in a “citizen” request for consideration to the right parties for low level path lighting in Mercerdale Park. The park is receiving wonderful and increased use year round now, perhaps due to our increased “urban” density. It’s amazing to see how many citizens use the park during fall and winter months even with fading early evening light. Would you forward this request to the appropriate parties for consideration of low level path lighting for the paved walkway that circles the interior of the park? It would be such a nice addition to our downtown area and make the park both attractive and perhaps safer at night than the “dark hole” it is during fall and winter months now. Much AppreciatedKerry Hodges

Paul West 5 months ago

On December 18, 2019:Ryan:First, I want to congratulate you, your staff, and the Commissioners in attendance for a very well-run meeting that included thoughtful and spirited debate, a wide spectrum of insights, and a very transparent desire “to do the right thing”.Second, I sincerely appreciate the Commission reviewing my comments, and thoughtfully considering them. I apologize for the last-minute sending of them.Regarding the process moving forward, as I mentioned briefly last evening, I believe a critical component of survey methodology is to field test (or beta test) the questions to ensure that they are clear and understandable and elicit the type of responses you are looking for. I believe you indicated that such a step is in the survey timeline.As the Commission reviewed the survey questions, I jotted down a few comments/edits for consideration.Intro. There was a discussion about whether the respondent should represent his/her own views or those of the household. I believe a more robust response will come from a “household view” as it ensures that those under 18 are fully represented. There should be a statement to that effect in the survey directions.Q2. While the response list based on frequency is fine, I thought about a seasonal bias (summer vs. winter) and if that was of interest in terms of usage. Qualitatively, we know the direction of that answer, but whether a quantitative answer is of value is posed here.Q4. I concurred with Commissioner Cohen’s suggestion to move the “cost prohibitive” response to a lower ranking. Also, as one thinks about responses, I believe the response list can be categorized by groups and perhaps a cumulative cross-tab of these results may be illuminating.A “safety” concern would encompass three responses – barriers, do not feel safe, conflicts.A “physical” concern would encompass six responses – not appropriate equipment, not well maintained, too crowded, too far, parking and bathrooms.A “personal choice” concern could be two responses – too busy, and use other facilities. Q6. There was extensive discussion of whether the list of facilities/amenities should be existing ones and/or new ones. I believe the conclusion was to just have existing ones listed, and then add an open-ended question about new or other ones. I believe this is the correct approach.Q8. A couple of suggestions with respect to the list: First, I would combine King County and State/Federal parks/lands into a category labelled “Off-Island Parks and Open Space (e.g. county, state or federal). I believe the response being elicited is how likely is one to use non-MI parks.Second, with respect to the response regarding “Private Clubs” and “Health Clubs” I initially interpreted that to mean MI-located, but in the discussion, I believe it was meant to be any location. I would make the distinction explicit to eliminate a potential “cross-pollination” of responses. Similarly, does “school facilities” and churches/faith center facilities mean on- and off-Island?I believe the overall question is attempting to understand usage patterns with respect to on-Island facilities.One way to eliminate the cross-pollination is to bifurcate each response as to on- vs. off-Island usage, or just explicitly label each as to On-Island and then have a single “off-Island” usage response. As I noted I will be travelling on 1/8 and unable to attend the next meeting. I wish you and the Commission all the best as you move forward on this project.Thank you. Peter Struck

Paul West 6 months ago

On December 18, 2019:Thanks Ryan, I thought the meeting last night was very good. The commission members appeared very committed to making sure as broad a spectrum of the citizens as possible are involved in this process. I thought they were very unideological. (I wish our planning commission took that approach). Thanks to Lloyd Gillman, Matt Goldbach, John Hall, Peter Struck, Gary Robinson and Victor Raises for attending. I was impressed when the commission asked if anyone wanted to speak and amended their agenda to allow Peter to speak, and took his comments to heart.I understand this survey targets recreation (many of which don't involve the parks but instead the MICEC) and how citizens use the parks, or would like to use the parks. I was a little concerned there wasn't a question asking citizens whether they would be willing to develop or use up current green spaces in the parks for new recreation, but the commission had the same concern.I was glad we were able to speak afterwards. I agree with most citizens that permanently protecting our parks should be a council goal, although I am not sure that is an issue for the commission. That is a political decision, if for no other reason than to pass -- and ideally increase -- a parks levy, although a recommendation from the commission to the council wouldn't hurt. The commission's goal is to balance recreation and use of the parks with open space and passive uses, IMO, and to highlight future costs of our parks. I was glad we generally agree that the number one priority is to highlight and focus on the infrastructure needs for the parks, and that will come later on in this process. I personally believe our parks are well run and utilized right now, and the citizens overall are pretty happy with the parks as is (which makes it harder to get them involved), and it is the infrastructure upgrades that are key. I think the citizens would be open to a new parks levy that is larger than the current levy if that levy focuses on specific infrastructure upgrades that are necessary and their cost. After all the recent King Co. parks levy passed, and MI pays $2.68 million in year one but receives back $238,000/year. Overall the citizens are realists when it comes to taxes.D. Thompson

Paul West 6 months ago

On December 17, 2019: I forgot to mention Ryan's excellent comments on page 46 noting the recent move away from a certain number of active uses (e.g. basketball courts per 1000 citizens) to the benefits of open space on emotional well being when creating park master plans. It was very encouraging to me to hear Ryan say this.D. Thompson

Paul West 6 months ago

On December 17, 2019: Ryan/Rory:Tonight, the Commission is reviewing a final draft of a proposed community survey (“Parks, Recreation & Open Space Community Survey”) regarding residents’ attitudes and desires for its parks and open spaces. As I understand, this survey will help inform the Commission, City staff and consultants as they prepare a new strategic plan, i.e., PROS Plan, for the parks.In reviewing the minutes of the November 7th meeting there was discussion about how to solicit public input in the process.An initial question is whether there has been an outreach to residents about what topics should be included in the survey. To my knowledge and the knowledge of others that I have asked is little to none. For example, there are several citizen groups on the Island dedicated to parks and open space preservation and improvement that may have valuable input that would make the survey more meaningful (and actionable).Thus, right off the bat, it’s a bit disingenuous to state there is community involvement when the principal communication method locks out citizen input at the start. For example, in reviewing the Let’s Talk page dedicated to the PROS Plan, only one community member has signed up for project updates. The current draft of the survey has several high-level questions to ascertain the community’s views on parks, activities, and facilities including usage, behavior patterns, needs, level of satisfaction, etc.I’d like to suggest a few key topics are missing. Protecting the Parks – the community has become highly sensitized to the basic issue of our parks appear to be under continue attack for development; the survey provides an ideal opportunity to provide feedback to the City about how residents feel on this issue. Minimizing Climate Change – Parks, in their natural (non or minimally developed) state provide wonderful and healthy benefits as well as their well-documented help to combat climate change. Thus, should there be a guiding principle in the management of our parks to not increase the “net impervious surface” of those lands. Adding More Parkland/Open Space – As the population of Mercer Island grows and with the opening of the light rail station (2023) more visitors to our parks should be expected. Should the City seek funding (e.g. King County park levy funds, etc.) or re-prioritize existing funding to seek additional space as such becomes available. More specific questions to consider adding/modifying: Do you need to go off-Island for various recreational activities that could be accommodated locally?o If so, what are they? _____________(This question looks outside of the normal list of activities to see if there is a demand for service that is not being met – the current question #8 could be formatted slightly to address this concern.) In question #9, respondents are asked what priority they would attach to several events that have been (or are) sponsored by the City. What is missing is the cost associated with those activities so that one can make a value judgement. In these times of financial sustainability, I believe the City has to honest and forthright with the community as to what things cost. I think the City runs the risk of having the community say activity XX is a high priority, but then have the City Council say they don’t have the funds to support it. Let the community judge for themselves, and this survey provides that opportunity. Thank you, and I look forward to your discussion tonight. Peter Struck

Paul West 6 months ago

On December 17, 2019:Hi Ryan and Paul, attached is the CART transcript from the 12-4-2019 Planning Commission Meeting in which you gave an overview of the upcoming PROS plan. On Page 13 you note "In your packet, there is a scope of work our consultant is working on". Could you email me and copy the others listed above whatever you submitted to the planning commission re: the scope of work to date. You may also want to post it to Let's Talk. Also discussed on pages 35-37 is CCMIP's proposal for a conservancy trust for the parks. Although I agree with permanently protecting the parks, I believe a simpler approach would be to create a zone for parks, and then amend the comp. plan and dev. code to require a vote of the citizens to amend that zoning designation. This would forgo the need for trustees, and leave the decision making in the hands of the citizens as to rezoning the parks but leave ultimate authority over funding of the parks in the hands of the council, something I think Jessi was concerned about at the mini-planning session. I am happy to see this idea will be part of the PROS plan. Next I thought commissioner Ted Weinberg gave a very good statement on the importance of green spaces and passive recreation in our parks, in which he noted the deer and birds don't vote and so generally get the short end of the stick when it comes to active vs. passive recreation. Commissioner Boatsman makes a common mistake on pages 35-37 in which she fails to distinguish between park related development which is allowed in parks, and non-park related development which is not. For example, when Kite Hill was not formally part of the park master plan a regional commuter parking lot was an allowed use in the Public institution zone whereas a regional commuter parking lot is not an allowed use in the parks, although a park related parking lot is. The reason I raise this issue is because I am concerned the demands for active recreation in the parks, and the relentless increases in impervious surfaces in the parks, neglect to consider the importance of passive green spaces and change the character of our parks. There are many special interests who will no doubt propose uses for our parks, but not really a special interest for green spaces, solitude, and passive recreation. One use I really worry about is converting grass to artificial turf, because natural grass although expensive to maintain allows both uses, whereas artificial turf does not. Finally I want to mention a common misperception commissioner Mechem makes on page 41, and that is her comment since Mercer Island has a disproportionate amount of park acreage compared to its population using some of the park land for non-park related development is no big deal. Here is a link to the 2014-2019 Parks and Recreation Plan you worked on. http://www.mercergov.org/files/2014-19_PR-Plan-Pt-1.pdf As noted on page 45 Mercer Island -- which at that time had a population of around 22,000+ compared to 26,000 today, had a lower ratio of park acreage to 1000 citizens than Issaquah (52.9 acres/20.8), Redmond (28 acres /20.8) and Bellevue (21.8 acres/20.8). Considering our 15% population gain over the last six years this ratio has only decreased. Therefore I disagree with commissioner Mechem that MI has park land to spare to develop for non-park related uses. I hope to see you tonight and would ask you forward this email and attachment onto the parks and recreation commissioners. Thanks.D. Thompson

Paul West 6 months ago

On December 16, 2019:Good morning, I am emailing you in that I do believe that your agency is getting paid to come up with survey questions to pose to Mercer Islanders and I just wanted to make sure that these are some of the concerns that Mercer Islanders have and would like to make sure that there are questions which have to do with the following:We are concerned about special interests who want the parks for some kind of development , such as Bike Groups, who want to pave bike paths, or developers who want to develop the parks and deem them "affordable housing," or for "workforce housing" or to add more parking in the parks under the guise of "ADA", And looking at the survey questions, you seem to be gearing it towards more sports and arts facilities, We don't want more sports facilities in that that leads to artificial turf. We want a ban on that.And what is not menitioned is all the toxic herbicides, where are the questions about how do we feel about toxic herbicides in our parks? We don't want it, but our City keep shoving them into our parks. We want the ivy cleaned up without the use of toxic herbicides.In summary, what we want is our parks to either be put in a Trust to protect them, once and for all, from being allowed to be paved over and taking green space. We don't want toxic herbicides shoved in our parks. . We don't want artificial turf shoved anywhere on our island and we don't want trees removed just for being "non-native". And I don't know if you are aware, but our City has financial problems, so we don't want money spent on boondoggle projects. We want the parks kept as natural as possible. So, hopefuly, the questions that you will help have questions drafted which will incorporate what I am asking above. We have too many outsider interests wanting to do things to our parks. And if it comes down to it, we would request a vote by the citizens should the City/Parks Commission want to do something major to our parks, such as putting a Theater in it, that kind of thing.Thank you for your consideration.S. Fletcher

Paul West 6 months ago