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PEAK lease agreement posted for public review

The Mercer Island School District has posted online its draft lease and joint use agreement with the Boys and Girls Club of King County for the PEAK project. The 40-page document covers everything from Terms of Ownership to Rental Contracts between parties sharing the youth facility. The public is invited to review and comment on the proposed draft.

According to the agreement, the Boys and Girls Club will pay the district an annual rental fee of $1 for 50 years for the premises. In turn, the district has first priority to PEAK facilities during regular high school hours or from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Outside school hours, the building is open to students and the greater community as a whole.

Since PEAK was first proposed in 2005, plans to build the teen center and field house near the Mercer Island High School have raised civic concern. Neighboring residents, in particular, complain that the recreational center will add unwanted traffic and cacophony to the quiet suburban area. What’s more, the street on which PEAK will be located — 86th Avenue S.E. — serves as the main access route to MIHS, and already has a disruptive amount of congestion and parking.

During a City Council meeting about PEAK in February, Robert Clark, a well-known PEAK opponent who lives near the project site, presented a petition he had compiled with 173 names against the project. Most residents were concerned with parking issues — a factor that the draft agreement addresses with detail.

Yet at this same meeting, two-thirds of the 75-strong crowd voiced support for the project.

Discussion about PEAK has been going on since early 2005. In May of that same year, Associate Superintendent of Business Services Liz Dodd began negotiations on the 50-year lease with King County Boys and Girls Club president Daniel Johnson. Dodd then brought this information to the Mercer Island School Board, where it was further discussed.

In Dodd’s opinion, so much attention has been given to PEAK already that few will take issue with the lease itself.

“I don’t think there’s anything in the lease that people haven’t already discussed,” she said. “They’re already aware that the district has first access to the PEAK facility during school hours. There’s nothing surprising in the lease that will catch anyone off guard.”

According to the draft, the Boys and Girls Club will lease the premises from MISD and oversee the construction and operation of the youth center. The club holds all ownership rights to the building.

In turn, the MISD has the right to use the facility, which includes a youth center, gymnasium, teen lounge and computer lab, for student education and recreation.

PEAK will also offer preschool and day care facilities to the Mercer Island community.

“This agreement is also intended to provide a framework for the [MISD] and the [Boys and Girls Club] to use the center on a coordinated basis... The [MISD] has reviewed the Boys and Girls Club’s current programs and, as of the date of this agreement, finds that the club’s programs are neither objectionable to the community nor inconsistent with the MISD’s educational programs,” the draft states.

In its entirety, the document includes 40 pages of legalese, from opportunities for contract extension to detailed rental agreements, as well as the project’s overall purpose and history. Citizens are invited to view the draft agreement online, or they can request a copy at the District Administration Building.

The SCHOOL BOARD is scheduled to approve the lease during their Aug. 23 meeting. It will most likely be signed by all parties shortly after, Dodd said. The city expects to begin PEAK facility construction in January 2008.

To view the draft lease agreement in full go to: www.misd.k12.wa.us/news/frontpage/draft_agreement.html

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