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Construction supplies sit on surplus property owned by the city of Mercer Island in the First Hill neighborhood at S.E. 32nd Street and 74th Avenue S.E. on Mercer Island last Wednesday. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Construction supplies sit on surplus property owned by the city of Mercer Island in the First Hill neighborhood at S.E. 32nd Street and 74th Avenue S.E. on Mercer Island last Wednesday.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

First Hill land decision delayed

The City Council agreed to delay discussing the surplus First Hill lot until real estate prices increase at its April 6 meeting. This will most likely push the agenda item back until 2010.

The city property, a .7-acre vacant lot on the corner of 74th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 32nd Street in the First Hill neighborhood, has been a topic of deliberation for several years. The City Council declared the property as surplus last Monday, yet discussion on whether or not to sell the lot — and if so, for how much — has been put off until the real estate climate improves. Meanwhile, the city will have the open space appraised and will also discuss the possibility of dividing the land into two or three sub-lots. These issues will be brought to the public in the form of community meetings, to be scheduled later this year.

The First Hill lot, which was acquired by the city decades ago as a potential site for storing water, has been the focus of debate for two years now. Many First Hill residents have urged the Council to find a way to keep the property as open space. Several families use the grassy lot as a park for their children and dogs. The Council, however, is planning to sell the land, the profits of which will fund an emergency water well at Rotary Park.

Fire, police department to receive new radios

The City Council has approved $301,000 in new mobile and handheld radios for the Mercer Island Police and Fire Departments. The departments’ current radio equipment has reached “the end of their life cycle” and will not function on the Eastside radio network after it is rebanded this fall. The mobile (used in vehicles) and portable (hand-held) radios currently used by Island firefighters and police officers are over 13 years old. According to Fire Chief Chris Tubbs, officers are experiencing failure problems with the Motorola radios.

“We’ve had failure with some parts of the radios. Motorola will stop its [repair] service this summer, and we’ve already had to search on eBay for parts,” he said, highlighting the need for new equipment.

The radios are essential for providing a thorough and immediate response to emergencies, Tubbs explained.

Funding for the new “next generation” equipment, which is recommended by the Eastside Public Safety Communications Agency (EPSCA), has already been budgeted for. The $301,000 will buy 75 new portable radios and 30 mobile radios.

Firefighters earn accolades

The Mercer Island Fire Department has recognized Mike Peters and Stephen Mair as Firefighter and Officer of the Year, respectively. Both men have represented the department for over 10 years.

“This award is a mark of who best emulates the qualities that we like in the firefighter ranks,” Fire Chief Chris Tubbs said after announcing the awards at last week’s City Council meeting.

Tubbs also highlighted the achievements of Deputy Fire Chief Steve Heitman, who received a Certificate of Excellence for being accepted into the National Fire Academy’s executive fire program, a four-year, postgraduate curriculum.

The Mercer Island Fire Department votes on an Officer and Firefighter of the Year annually.

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