Letters to the editor

Girls Scout Troop 1047 says thanks

Girl Scout Troop 1047 and I would like to recognize and thank Albertsons and Emmanuel Episcopal Church for always supporting us. For the past two years, Albertsons has donated food and Emmanuel has donated their space for our troop to use for a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. Albertsons and Emmanuel have graciously supported us. This truly sets them apart! Through Albertsons’ and Emmanuel’s display of community support, we have learned what it means to be active and supportive of our community, and in particular, the youth of Mercer Island.

Thank you so much, Albertsons and Emmanuel Episcopal Church, for your gift of support.

Stop Tent City

My husband and I are active in our church and volunteer at a soup kitchen. We are very aware of what the face of homelessness looks like. There are wonderful organizations that provide “supportive housing” to our homeless. CCS, EHA, Union Gospel Mission and United Way are just a few that offer services such as mental health counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, and job training.

SHARE/WHEEL, the organization that runs Tent City, does not provide a permanent solution or necessary services to help end homelessness. The group leaders are long-term residents of Tent City and have no desire to ever find permanent housing. I encourage the citizens of Mercer Island to ask: How does SHARE/WHEEL plan to end homelessness? I encourage us to ask: What is SHARE/WHEEL doing to assist with mental illness and drug and alcohol addictions? We also need to ask ourselves: Why are we supporting an organization that feels it is more important to parade the less fortunate through our streets than it is to help them find a job and permanent housing? Why are we supporting a group that undermines the efforts of legitimate homeless organizations?

SHARE/WHEEL stated at our Council meeting, “Tent City is not a permanent solution to homelessness.” So, why is Tent City now a permanent fixture in our city? Why did our Councilmembers approve a permit that allows Tent City to return to our city for three months every year? Why aren’t the warrant and sex offender checks run by MI police? Why didn’t we put the same restrictions on Tent City as Bellevue, Bothell, Kirkland and Woodinville did?

No one is saying that we shouldn’t help the homeless. Let’s stop enabling Tent City. Tent City may make us feel good in the short-term, but it is not going to end homelessness.

Check residents

As hard-working, tax-paying residents of Mercer Island for over 20 years, we are very concerned about the Temporary Use Agreement between the United Methodist Church at 7070 S.E. 24th St. and SHARE to house 100 people in tents on a 0.3-acre (with setbacks) gravel parking lot behind the church for three months, starting Aug. 5, and for three months of each calendar year in the future.

We attended the MI City Council meeting on June 16 with several neighbors to voice our concerns. We each spoke for three minutes about the lack of proper notification, the lack of due process, our concern for the safety of the neighborhood’s children, the security of our neighborhood and whether SHARE is helping to solve the issue of homelessness or enabling it.

The Boys & Girls Club is nearby on West Mercer Way.

We were greatly outnumbered by many speakers from out of town — with no investment in this neighborhood and nothing to lose — who spoke in favor of SHARE and Tent City. SHARE’s speakers were loudly applauded after they spoke.

If Tent City is to exist in our neighborhood, we insist on these conditions:

1. MI police will obtain a valid WA State ID and a valid social security number from all Tent City residents.

2. MI police will perform sex offender and warrant checks on all residents of Tent City.

3. SHARE leaders will maintain an accurate and verifiable list of all Tent City residents and their lengths of stay in the camp.

We implore Rev. Knight of MIUMC, as Councilman Cero did three times at the June 16 MI City Council meeting, to require that the residents of Tent City allow the MI Police Dept. to perform sex offender and warrant checks.

To the city

Do you guys know what you’re playing with here? These are homeless people who have refused city help and city protection in Seattle so that their residents can remain “anonymous.”

Even the liberal Seattle Weekly doesn’t trust this group.

There’s a reason why the residents of Sand Point refused them access to their neighborhood this past winter. They have an incredible reputation of bucking the system and forcing their way into neighborhoods without the same level of oversight and security control normally reserved for other low-income housing organizations. They are a roving band of individuals with very little oversight or accountability, and they go out of their way to keep it that way.

This is seriously dangerous territory you’re playing with here in letting them come to MI with open arms. So for three months we’re going to have 100 or more random, anonymous, homeless people wandering around the streets of First Hill, day and night. How could anyone possibly think that is a good idea? I assume you’ll have a police officer or two on premise, 24/7. Right? Can you afford that for three months?

This makes no sense and you are seriously playing poker with your own careers. One slip up, one tragic event and you will all realize that your careers are over. You will be the ones who gave a “Hall Pass” to hundreds of homeless people wandering the family-friendly streets of First Hill. I suppose I applaud your guts in taking this risk with your own careers. Or perhaps you’re just naive. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say it’s your “guts.” But if that’s the case, then you’ll also have the guts to get up front, on camera, and resign publicly the day after something terrible happens. Are you ready for that? The residents of First Hill appear to have no choice but to get ready for something terrible about to happen to their own neighborhood.

Thanks for PEAK mediation

I’d like to express my sincere thanks to those individuals involved in the recently completed mediation between the Boys & Girls Club and ICS, the neighbors of the soon-to-be constructed PEAK project.

The article in the Mercer Island Reporter on June 25 highlighted much of the information in the agreement. I especially want to acknowledge the efforts of Dan Grausz of the City Council.? Dan’s interest in what is best for the community, his extraordinary patience and insight in bringing together the various parties, and his perseverance in working toward an agreement are commendable. I am personally grateful for his willingness to engage and push the discussion to a successful conclusion which provides better understanding for all involved.

The mediation process turned out to be a complex and lengthy endeavor, with several twists and turns along the way. However, it allowed us to begin building trust and to start working cooperatively for the benefit of all involved. There is, of course, still work ahead, but we look forward to continuing our partnership with ICS and the broader Mercer Island community to create this once-in-a-generation opportunity for our youth and teens.??

Baker signs

get the prize

It appears that Bob Baker gets the prize. His campaign signs are not only the first to appear, but they are the largest signs that I have ever seen. This addition to the Island’s landscaping will probably be with us through the entire summer and possibly through much of the fall.

I know that office seekers have a constitutional right to display signs, but I feel that it is our city government’s right to place conditions on when these signs may be installed and when they must be removed. A maximum allowable size may also be appropriate. We citizens certainly have a right to have this blight restricted.

I am sure that this early appearance of campaign signs will influence the voters. The question is: Who will they choose to vote for?

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