Letters to the editor

Concrete walls attract graffiti

Lately there has been a lot of talk about Tent City and the crime it might bring to Mercer Island. Let me say with 100 percent sincerity that I fully understand the concerns of those who live close to the proposed site. After all, it’s easy to be in favor of something you don’t have to live next to and experience on a daily basis.

Let me also alert the good citizens of Mercer Island to another development that has the same type of crime-attracting potential: on Faben Point, a house is going up with 30-foot-high concrete walls around it. What does that have to do with crime, you might ask? I lived in L.A. for 10 years, and it’s a well-known fact down there that concrete walls attract “gang bangers” who like to “tag” them (paint them with graffiti). I’m worried that if high concrete walls start to spread around our residential neighborhoods, unsavory elements might see Mercer Island as a great place to come to display their urban “artwork.” And, once the gang bangers come, then what naturally follows is drugs, trash, break-ins, car thefts, rape and worse.

Big concrete walls are fine for parking garages, sports stadiums, shopping malls and prisons. However, they have no place in a residential neighborhood. I urge you to talk to the City Council about this potentially dangerous development and ask them to discourage residential houses with “gang-attracting” features.

Tent City opponents

As a member of the Mercer Island United Methodist Church, I voted in favor of inviting Tent City 4 to our church. I am amazed (and disappointed) at the actions and response of a vocal minority in opposition to TC4.

Fears and concern of the unknown are natural. Much in life can be unknown, but the human spirit craves knowledge, growth and enrichment by exploring the unknown. To refuse to explore the possibilities denies the human spirit that growth and serves only to feed prejudice.

The effort that goes into this “campaign” appears monumental ... from the unsubstantiated allegations of wrong-doing, the distribution of flyers to neighbors, the domination of recent City Council meetings, to the unlawfully posted signs on utility poles (in a number of areas around the Island, I might add, and not just around First Hill). Imagine the benefits if this same effort were directed toward constructive efforts (like helping with a meal at TC4) instead of fear-mongering and creating a polarized community.

Actions speak louder than words (or lawsuits). This lesson is not lost on our youth — the city’s VOICE program, for example, is constantly oversubscribed.

Mercer Island has a long history of extending a helping hand, though often unseen by many outside of our community. Let’s keep that going!

Unwelcome visitors downtown?

You would figure businesses in the downtown area would like to welcome visitors. However, just this past Thursday on an errand run, I noticed the “No Event” parking signs placed around the parking lot of the Rite Aid center across the street from the “Music in the Parks” event. How unwelcoming can you get? Why don’t they post a sign, “We don’t want your business HERE, go somewhere else.”

It’s nice to walk around, of course, to get the exercise, but what about those who can’t?

Looking to the future, it seems to me that the city and its planners are representing themselves and the city as unwelcoming. Don’t park here for more then two hours or you’ll be ticketed. Or please don’t use OUR lot to attend church for an hour or two; you’ll be towed. With this attitude surfacing more and more, the less likely it is that even I am going to visit the downtown area. I’m not interested in giving stores my business if they can’t seem to handle the extra traffic in their lots. I mean, God forbid that we welcome possible paying customers. Just imagine the business they LOSE by turning people away. Of course, this is their choice and it’s their property, right? And remember it’s our choice — we choose to be paying customers.

The more that I see and hear of businesses on Mercer Island posting ‘No Parking’ signs, writing parking tickets or towing cars, the less of my business they’ll get. And I hope and pray that I’m not the only one with this point of view.

I’m not asking for overnight parking or parking in driveways. However, if we want to encourage people to visit, stay, play and spend money on Mercer Island, we need to reach out to each other and visitors, and welcome them into our community.

Merrimount ‘diet’

I live on the South end of Mercer Island and was extremely surprised to hear of the City Council’s June decision to further constrict Island Crest Way into one traffic lane in each direction from the 4100 block to the 5300 block — essentially turning ICW into a two-lane road from S.E. 40th all the way south.

I have e-mailed the City Council, and the only person I have received a response from who seems to enthusiastically support the idea is Bruce Basset. Mr. Bassett assures me that “road diets” have worked well in other communities and that it will be wonderful for us, too.

The main concern seems to be the safety of autos attempting to make a turn from Merrimount onto Island Crest Way. I certainly understand and support the effort to make the merge onto ICW safer. I do, however, have serious issues with forcing all of the traffic on ICW into two lanes.

I know that one idea was a traffic signal at Merrimount/ICW. Apparently, the city felt the expense was too great. However, I have noticed that a four-way traffic signal has been installed at the off-ramp of East Mercer Way and west-bound I-90. The stop signs have worked fine there for years, and I’ve never seen an accident at that intersection. Maybe the city could consider using that signal at ICW and Merrimount and returning ICW to a four-lane, unrestricted road.

I urge everyone who will be affected by this diet to contact Mr. Bassett and all of the Councilmen about this issue. Constricting Island Crest Way to 50 percent of its current capacity in this section of road does not seem to best serve the needs of our growing South end population. Many more people will be adversely affected than will be helped, and I’m sure there must be other ideas that would make much more sense to the hundreds of drivers that travel to the South end of the Island every day.

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