Former Mercer Island High School members of the Committee to Save the Earth attended a community forum on Saturday at the Mercer Island Library. Photo courtesy of Ira Appelman

Community forum selects top 3 choices for repurposing Mercer Island Recycling Center

  • Thursday, September 28, 2017 4:05pm
  • News

Citizens attending the “Renew, Reuse, Re-purpose” Community Forum held on Saturday at the Mercer Island Library, were inspired by former Mercer Island High School students, members of the Committee to Save the Earth (CSE).

One of the club’s achievements was the planning, design, funding, construction and operation, for over three-and-a-half decades, of the Mercer Island Recycling Center.

Following the screening of the 1991 video “Saving a Piece of the Earth,” about the origin, construction and operation of the center, a panel of former CSE members addressed the gathering. Rainer Adkins, who signed the Oct. 4, 1972 proposal addressed to Mayor Aubrey Davis to construct and run a “recycling station” for Mercer Islanders, said he “was part of the group who envisioned the Recycling Center, but graduated before the construction,” according to a press release from Concerned Citizens for Mercer Island Parks.

Former MIHS students and members of CSE Doug Winder and John Koon, younger than Rainer, described their participation in the construction. Winder recalled working Saturdays at the concrete factory on the panels that were later delivered and bolted together to form the walls. Mike Leavitt, son of MIHS teacher and CSE advisor Harry Leavitt, said he spent “many weekends and afternoons” helping sort recycled materials and driving the Recycling Center truck with his dad.

Architect Jim Adkins, Rainer’s dad, said, “I got involved when the students needed drawings by an architect to submit to the city for permitting — Rainer put up his hand and said, ‘My Dad’s an architect’!”

Inspired by the stories of these former CSE students and the architect, the group considered the options for re-purposing the Recycling Center that were previously submitted to the City Council on July 12, 2010 in the Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI) report, then brainstormed additional suggestions. Seattle architect Ellen Judson helped participants during this process.

The group concluded that the three options that meet community need and are best aligned with the CSE vision of community engagement and recycling are: (1) an intake center for the Thrift Shop, freeing up Thrift Shop space for more sales area; (2) a native plants and gardening center, perhaps in connection with a nursery for native plants in the Native Garden; and (3) a sustainability education center, perhaps with a tool library and/or bike-skateboard repair center (as the combination Northeast Seattle Tool Library/Bike Shack). A report will be presented by the group that sponsored the forum, CCMIP, to the City Council for their consideration.

Some of the extensive exhibits that were displayed at the forum, pertaining to the work of the CSE and the history of the Recycling Center, will be on display at the Mercer Island Library from Oct. 25 through Nov. 3.

For a link to the video “Saving a Piece of the Earth” and more photos of the forum, which included a reception celebrating 42 years of Mercer Island recycling, visit

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