City role uncertain in Boys & Girls Club project – School district and youth club planning frustrates City Council

By Mary L. Grady

  • Thursday, April 14, 2005 3:00pm
  • News

By Mary L. Grady

City Council members said they were frustrated with the school district and the Boys & Girls Club during a meeting last week.

The council’s exasperation with the school district stems from the district’s inability to share the Mercer Island High School track and field with the city.

The City of Mercer Island paid $500,000 of the $1.1 million 2003 renovation of the track and field. The city wanted the public to be able to use the facility in return for its contribution.

The city also purchased computer software to manage scheduling the track and field between the school and the city. More than one councilman pointed out that the scheduling has remained unfinished business for five years and has cost $50,000.

“Part of the problem has been at your end of the street,” said councilman Dan Grausz to School Board members, explaining that it was his impression that school staff have been reluctant to schedule non-school use of the facility and use the software.

Superintendent Cyndy Simms said the district is making progress, but added that she wanted to talk with school staff further about the issue.

“But we owe it to our partner, the city, to set a firm date,” she said.

It appears that much of the available non-school use of the track and field use has been taken up by private users. It turns out that some of these private users are coaches and organizers affiliated with the school during the school term, and as such are assumed to be running school activities and receive priority.

“This is giving away a public asset to a private party,” Grausz said.

The track is already entirely booked for the summer months, much of it by clinics and camps that were inadvertently scheduled as school-sponsored events.

Without coming to a date or agreement about the scheduling tangle, the meeting’s attention moved to the proposal called the North Mercer Project, or PEAK project. In addition to a teen center for the Boys & Girls Club, the PEAK project would add classroom and gym space at the district’s North Mercer campus.

The council’s feeling on the matter seemed to be summed up by Mayor Alan Merkle when he said at the outset: “We don’t think we have a role in this (project) beyond granting permits.”

The council appears to be upset that it is assumed it will sign on to the project and donate $1 million — the amount it committed to give to the Boys & Girls Club for renovating its existing building in return for use of its gym for city recreation programs part-time — without any discussion or input from the city.

At least one councilman said that the Boys & Girls Club had begun discussing the new project with the school district while the city was still under the impression that the renovation of the current facility on West Mercer Way was still going ahead.

The City Council has yet to be included in any preliminary design discussions about the project, councilmembers said. In fact, prior to the meeting last week with the district, the council had only one presentation about the project from the Boys & Girls Club, with little detail.

When faced with a go or no-go vote pending for the school district and a sign the city would sign on with the $1 million they had reserved for the club, the council wants to put on the brakes.

“It needs to meet the test of: `Is it good for the community,”’ Merkle said of the project.

More in News

Kailan Manandic / staff photo 
                                The Mercerdale Park remains free of development as the city and MICA focuses on a new location at the former Tully’s Coffee site.
City council to terminate plans for Mercerdale development

The city directed staff to seek mutual termination of a 2016 MOU to develop within Mercerdale Park.

Kailan Manandic / staff photo 
                                The city council took a preliminary step toward developing a fiscal sustainability plan at the April 16 meeting.
City council reviewed fiscal sustainability plan options

Currently, city staff are examining the options to determine what is feasible for the city.

April 2019 special election preliminary results

LWSD levy passing; Fall City fire merger and hospital bond coming up short.

Foundations covering counselor costs

Announcement comes in wake of Prop. 1 loss last November.

Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Valley Education Association Facebook page
                                Eastside educators were appalled over an amendment made to SB 5313. The effects could have reduced teacher compensation and limited bargaining abilities. The bill recently died.
Late night Senate amendments shock local teachers

An amendment to SB 5313 prompted teacher unions to voice concerns.

Kailan Manandic/staff photo
                                Officials break ground outside Salt House Church for the Eastside’s first permanent women and family shelter. Workers hope to complete construction in 2020.
Eastside’s first permanent shelter breaks ground in Kirkland

The shelter will serve single women and families with children who are experiencing homelessness.

Candidate workshop set for April 24

In-person candidate filing starts May 13.

Sound Transit crews are nearly finished with the Mercer Island Station as the East Link project hits 50 percent completion. The station will be one of 10 between Seattle and Redmond served by the Blue Line in 2023. Kailan Manandic / staff photo
East Link hits 50 percent milestone: Blue Line to open in 2023

Sound Transit crews celebrated the 50 percent completion of East Link this month.

Most Read