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Parking possible north of Community Center?

Above, a rendering of a possible roundabout at North Mercer Way. The city, Sound Transit and Metro are studying a  transit integration plan, which gives the city some negotiating power to create additional parking. - Contributed Photo
Above, a rendering of a possible roundabout at North Mercer Way. The city, Sound Transit and Metro are studying a transit integration plan, which gives the city some negotiating power to create additional parking.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

The city may finally be making headway on parking alternatives for the Island. As part of a broader transit integration review, Sound Transit has hired a consultant to study an extension north of the Community and Events Center parking lot.

“When Sound Transit approached us with the bus integration plan, part of what Council said is, we’ll consider this, but only if it helps us get dedicated Mercer Island parking,” explained City Manager Noel Treat.

On Monday, August 4, Council reviewed the transit integration study, a joint effort between Sound Transit, Metro and the city to determine how buses will run alongside East Link when it begins service in 2023. The city is using the bus integration plan to engage with Sound Transit on parking expansion for the Island. Though Sound Transit has staunchly disapproved of transferring ownership of the existing Park-and-Ride to the city, citing legal reasons and the concern that it would set a precedent,  the agency recently hired a consultant to study parking expansion alternatives.

If approved, the added capacity at the Community and Events Center would be available to all commuters while construction closed the South Bellevue Park-and-Ride beginning in 2017. When done, it would transfer to city control. Conclusion and analysis of the community center option is due in September.

“This site, I think, is of particular interest for the city,” said Sound Transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick.

There are 447 parking spaces at the  existing Park-and-Ride. But the lot is usually full  before 8 a.m. by commuters from either side of the lake.

Sound Transit has agreed to commit up to $6 million to address overcrowding of the Park-and-Ride, mitigation for the mobility lost by the construction of light rail in I-90’s center HOV lanes.

It’s not clear how that money would be exchanged, said Treat, whether as cash or in the construction of a new parking structure.

The city would like to add between 150 and 250 spots, said Deputy Mayor Dan Grausz. Sound Transit’s study will determine how many spots are feasible for the community center expansion. The city expects light rail will eventually bring even more people to the Park-and-Ride than are currently using it.

Grausz said while he didn’t think the extra spots would impact adjoining homes or block any views, he did have concerns about the traffic it would generate on a residential street, not designed to absorb the added volume of cars.

Conversations with Sound Transit about parking have been ongoing. The city has explored many ideas for the creation of additional spots. Between 2006 and 2008 it expanded the footprint of the Park-and-Ride. Several alternatives in the Town Center were also presented,  including a site at Walgreens, which later fell through.

The land north of the community center is occupied by a big dirt hill, which Treat said he expected would be leveled and used for a two-story structure.

If the Mercer Island Community and Events Center proved feasible, Sound Transit representatives promise not to encroach on the Pea Patch.

Treat said that the city will also work to make sure construction doesn’t impact Event Center operations.

 

 

 

 

 

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