Planning for the Future: Recreation and the Mercer Island Community and Events Center (MICEC)

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Background

In the Spring of 2020, the City temporarily closed the Mercer Island Community and Events Center (MICEC), suspending all facility operations and recreation programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the number of facilities and recreation staff were reduced significantly. While the pandemic was the primary cause of this action, the City had been working to improve the financial sustainability of its recreation services for several years.

Current Work

A consultant-led staff team has been tasked with developing a “reset plan” for recreation and the MICEC as the community looks toward a post-pandemic future. The team, along with the Parks & Recreation Commission, has been analyzing past programs and services, revenues and costs, community needs, opportunities, and challenges. This work has helped to develop program assessment tools, focus our services to best support our community, and establish a cost recovery and resource allocation philosophy and pricing strategy, among other project outcomes.

Moving Forward

The team has developed a plan on how to begin offering programs and services as the pandemic becomes less of an obstacle and we move on to our "new normal." This strategy will help guide future recreation programming and the use of our parks system and the MICEC.

Explore this page for updates to the recreation reset process, news as we expand programs and services, and the materials shared with the Commission and Council along the way.


Background

In the Spring of 2020, the City temporarily closed the Mercer Island Community and Events Center (MICEC), suspending all facility operations and recreation programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the number of facilities and recreation staff were reduced significantly. While the pandemic was the primary cause of this action, the City had been working to improve the financial sustainability of its recreation services for several years.

Current Work

A consultant-led staff team has been tasked with developing a “reset plan” for recreation and the MICEC as the community looks toward a post-pandemic future. The team, along with the Parks & Recreation Commission, has been analyzing past programs and services, revenues and costs, community needs, opportunities, and challenges. This work has helped to develop program assessment tools, focus our services to best support our community, and establish a cost recovery and resource allocation philosophy and pricing strategy, among other project outcomes.

Moving Forward

The team has developed a plan on how to begin offering programs and services as the pandemic becomes less of an obstacle and we move on to our "new normal." This strategy will help guide future recreation programming and the use of our parks system and the MICEC.

Explore this page for updates to the recreation reset process, news as we expand programs and services, and the materials shared with the Commission and Council along the way.

We Want Your Input!

The team wants your feedback on the quantity and types of programs and services that will be offered in the future. Share your thoughts here. All shared comments will be considered as part of the public record and reviewed by project staff. Rather fill out a survey? We have that too! Follow this link for the survey.

Please be a good neighbor and keep your comments civil. Check out our moderation policy for more details.


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Just wanted to share my voice. My name is Peter and I live on the south end. First, I wish the city would offer alternatives — low, medium and high budget. The city should lead not punt.

Here are my thoughts based on the little I know. Initially, the focus should be on reopening the community center. It’s a jewel and should be reopened with a skeleton staff paid by our taxes as soon as it’s safe to do so. Beyond that we can have a debate. My vote would be to defray costs with user fees (deeply reduced fees for seniors and reduced fees for residents). Unfortunately, if user fees can’t cover the bulk of a given program then we have to ask ourselves about priorities and sustainability. The community center needs to reopen soon to the 90% of us who are vaccinated.

Peter 7 months ago

I am an artist in Mercer Island and have greatly appreciated the Community Center over the years with its programming of the arts. I am involved in MIVAL and our shows have been impacted by the pandemic and the closing of the community center.

Over the years I have seen the arts programming at the community center shrink. There used to be many arts classes and drawing and sculpting sessions at the community center these were canceled. The programmimg at the community center should remain broad and reach many differenet types of individuals with different interests. Having arts at the Community Center actually improved the diversity of the participants at the community center which has slipped in recent times. The Community Center should be a vibrant place serving all ages with visual arts shows, classes and workshops, music lessons and performances, poetry slams, etc.

The City of Mercer Island greatly needs the Arts Council. I am dismayed and concerned about the seeming lack of support for the council these days. The Arts Council should be celebrated for its accomplishments over the years. If there are funding problems, creative solutions should be sought.

As a member of MIVAL, I have participated in many shows at the Community Center and the gallery is of great value to me. I also appreciate the Mercer Island Community Center gallery as a patron as well. When stopping by, it is inspiring to see the different shows being mounted by different artists and groups.

The arts make us reflect in a way that nothing else can. The arts set us apart and make us human.

Lorri Falterman
Painter, Sculptor, Fine Arts Photographer
206 915-7307

Lorri F 8 months ago

I am an artist and member of MIVAL (the Mercer Island Visual Arts League). Our group has been an active community arts partner since 1961. The Community Center is an important part of our programming. We use the upstairs gallery space as often as there is space and were thrilled when the downstairs walls were opened to arts programming as well. As a group we run our small gallery and program other spaces. We are capable of running shows. In addition to very much wanting access to the gallery space, as a group we are able to partner with the City and community center to manage shows in that or other spaces. As and example of what has been lost during the pandemic, I personally was involved in 3 shows canceled at the community center in 2020. One involved my personal work that would have been displayed along with a group of similar artists from on and off island. This is an example of how the City was helping both our community artists and bringing art in from off island which benefits those looking at and learning about art. The 2nd show involved the MIVAL run Junior Art Show which includes Island artists from grades K - 12. This is a very important show to our island families. Arts opportunities often take a back seat to sports and music and we fill a needed role with this program. The 3rd show is the MIVAL Holiday show. It is one of the few yearly shows that all of our members can participate in. The larger space greatly facilitates this. The show provides opportunities for the community to purchase local art during the holidays. In addition, pandemic protocols aside, when all is well, having the galleries rotate a variety of art through the year brings people from the community and off Mercer Island to the north end. This provides potential additional economic opportunities for the City. For example, people may buy or just look at the art, but then also decide to take a class at the community center or visit some of our north end businesses. The art may bring them to the island, but they then may return because of the familiarity. Please reach out, if I or MIVAL can provide any other thoughts or assistance. Carol Whitaker, (206) 275-2071, wcarol11@comcast.net

Carol W. 9 months ago

I live on Mercer Island. Since I retired seven years ago I frequently used the drop in pickle ball at the community center on MWF from 9 AM to 2 PM. I would strongly suggest we continue this program and perhaps add another Drop in session on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 9 PM. Additionally the three temporary outdoor pickle ball courts at Luther Burbank Park should be formally recognized and maintained as such. The next step would be to convert them to eight permanent dedicatedPickle ball courts with standing nets. This would also provide and overflow facility for MICED when it gets crowded.Please contact me if you need further input.
Marvin Buchanan
6012 East Mercer Way
Mercer Island.
206-498-5500 cell
Marvinbuchanan@gmail.com

Marv Buchanan 9 months ago

MI Parks & Recreation should work towards creating sustainable solutions for the scope of its work and responsibilities. For example, market-driven solutions should be deploy to drive a zero cost to tax-payers. Whether it is through rental revenue, partnerships with businesses operating within park grounds, and/or selling assets, e.g. art, land, etc... Mercer Island needs to figure out how to generate $millions via beach front property, docks, unused buildings, etc... by outsourcing and renting assets to restaurants, breweries, Bar/Grills, shops, private use, etc... Similar to how the Thrift Shop generates funds for community, our park assets should be leveraged to off-set the cost of park up-keep/budget (at minimum) or generate $millons to mitigate the need for such high property taxes. Current programs don't add a lot of value, therefore free-market solutions should be deployed to proved a better ROI on our assets.

DamiansAR-15 11 months ago
Page last updated: 21 October 2021, 16:03