School Board seeking input on North Mercer project before vote

By Mary L. Grady

The Mercer Island School District Board of Directors will vote on May 12 to authorize the school district to proceed to Phase II of the North Mercer-Boys & Girls Club proposal.

The School Board will hold two more meetings to discuss whether or not they should proceed to the next phase of planning. That phase will include community involvement, environmental assessment and permitting, for the youth-centered proposal on school district land near the high school. The proposal, often referred to as ``PEAK,'' is to build classrooms for use by the high school, a teen center and a field house on land adjacent to the high school. The project would be operated by the Boys & Girls Club.

The School Board will hold a study session to discuss the matter in depth on April 28 at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at Crest Learning Center at 4150 86th Ave. S.E. No community input or comment is ordinarily taken at study sessions, so the board has scheduled a special community listening session from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 4, at Crest Learning Center.

Phase II will involve community and neighborhood meetings, a traffic study, design of the facilities and site, city design commission reviews and permitting. It is expected to last 10 months.

At any point in the process, the club or the district may ask for a delay or further review, explained Mike Ziara, school district associate superintendent for business services.

The Boys & Girls Club, with the support of an informal group of athletic boosters on the Island, is hoping to finance the project by selling the land where the existing club is located on West Mercer Way. The school district would lease district land to the Club and contribute about $2 million to the project.

The city, who already had committed $1 million to the club for community use of a renovated gymnasium at the existing facility, is uncertain if they have a role in the new project.

Project supporters had hoped that the city would re-commit the $1 million to the new project. The City Council said that they had not been asked to participate and had little information about the project.

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