Council meeting jammed by PEAK backers

A crowd of both PEAK supporters and detractors — anticipating a Council vote to adopt a a parking plan that would clear the way for the proposed teen center to proceed — exchanged volleys about the project before the regular business at City Council last Monday.

Nearly 100 people filled the chambers and overflowed into the lobby as the meeting began. Many in attendance were forced to park in lots adjacent to City Hall because spaces there ran out before 7 p.m.

Some of the audience members told Council they came because they were unaware the vote on the development agreement was postponed and removed from the agenda. Others came just to voice their thoughts about the project.

Roughly two-thirds of the crowd raised their hands to show their support of PEAK when one citizen asked how many people in attendance favored the project.

However, Robert Clark, an outspoken opponent of PEAK being built at the high school, presented Council with a petition requesting all spending and approvals regarding PEAK cease.

“I have a petition here that is circling around the neighborhood that I’d like to read to you,” Clark said. “We have 173 signatures at this time and there will be more later.”

Not all the speakers before Council took to the build-all or cease-all sides, however. Two residents from the neighborhood One of the six residents that spoke in favor of the project said she is the parent of teenagers and they live in the neighborhood surrounding the high school as well. She told Council that having PEAK nearby would provide tremendous opportunities to her children and their friends that often stay at her house from the time school ends until 1 a.m.

Another parent said he supported the project because it would make Mercer Island an even better place for his two children, who participate in the current Boys and Girls Club. A member of the club’s board, however, warned Council that time was money and explained how delays hurt the projects finances.

Laurin Schweet, the President of the Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club Board, said the costs of construction are increasing as the year goes on and that, ultimately, donations given now are being negated by those increases.

“We ask that you work as fast as you can to resolve this parking issue with the school district,” she said. “And please move with godspeed.”

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