Opinion

Letters to the editor

Consider something other than driving

I find it interesting that “city officials want to make it easier to find parking while grabbing a latte or lunch” (“Town Center parking: For whom the bell [might] toll”) at a time when climate change, sustainability and the rising cost of fuel are all referred to in the media and in public discussion on a regular basis — shouldn’t we be considering something other than our cars?

As a bicyclist, pedestrian and bus rider, I recognize the desire for alternative choices. What about working with King County Metro to improve bus service within the Island?

As a transportation planner, I understand and agree with the use of time restrictions to manage on-street parking in retail districts. But shouldn’t we also be looking at other ways to get around?

Parking in the Town Center is an issue because of our over-reliance on automobiles and our lack of on-Island transportation choices. Employees are hopefully utilizing the reliable routes that pass from Seattle to Bellevue, but we do need more options to get from A to B within the Island.

With transportation policies, city officials have a tremendous opportunity to create a more environmentally sound and economically vibrant community. I hope they pause and consider this opportunity, especially in light of their own sustainability policies. And as residents, we have the opportunity to support such policies and change our own travel habits.

Rezoning on

First Hill

Did the MI City Council back off on the issue of re-zoning the surplus water department lot on First Hill, on June 16? Not quite. Several Councilmen talked about not rezoning the lot, perhaps making it open space, or selling it with limits on the size of houses allowed. Then the issue of financing the new emergency water system arose with its $1.2 million cost. To the obvious surprise of the city manager, the Council changed his marching orders, making the connection between the sale of the surplus lot and the cost of the new emergency water system a direct link. This would require the lot to be sold at the highest possible price to finance the new water system. And that would seem to require more than the three lots now allowable under current zoning. So, open space is out and some sort of rezoning is probably still on the table. Regarding the history of the lot itself, one long-time resident said it had been known to be seismically challenged in the past. No one on the Council picked up on this. Does the city have to complete a Form 17 disclosure statement when selling this lot? The session ended with comments by one Councilman appealing for housing for all the people who “work for us” on MI but live elsewhere. I left the meeting with a definite feeling of having been manipulated by Council members with an agenda.

Thanks from

Island Arts Council

On behalf of the Mercer Island Arts Council, we would like to thank a long-time Mercer Island resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, for her very special gift to the people of Mercer Island. The donor, in her frequent walks through the Mercer Island Outdoor Sculpture Gallery, had admired the sculptures, Island Poles, by Seattle artist Steve Jensen and decided to purchase them and donate them to the city of Mercer Island. She wanted to ensure that future generations could enjoy the sculptures for many years to come.

The Island Poles will now be part of Mercer Island’s permanent art collection and will remain in the Sculpture Gallery, located in the park on the south side of I-90 between 77th Avenue SE and 80th Avenue SE. Most of the sculptures in the Outdoor Gallery are for sale and are changed every two or three years. The Island Poles, according to the artist, are intended to pay homage to nature and to maintain a respect for our natural resources.

We invite the people of Mercer Island to visit our Sculpture Gallery and view our beautiful new acquisition.

Mercer Island Baccalaureate

We have had the honor and privilege over the past four years to work with students, faculty, clergy and community members to plan the annual Mercer Island Baccalaureate, held the evening before graduation.

The Mercer Island Baccalaureate grew from a community desire to have an inspirational gathering for our graduating high school seniors, to applaud them and to bless them on their way.

The Mercer Island Baccalaureate is a student-led event, and truly, every year the students are just amazing. They come together from many backgrounds, cultures and beliefs to plan a meaningful interfaith program that is inclusive of their entire class. It is an annual gift for our entire Island and we have been privileged to participate.

Island Crest should be one lane

I am terribly disappointed in the city council’s decision to make Island Crest Way a two-lane road between SE 40th and Sunnybeam School. As you know, I grew up on this island, and this is the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard.

Do any of you who voted to do this -- ever drive Island Crest Way during rush hour traffic – when school is in session?

At a recent MI Beach Club event, I mentioned what the city council had voted to do – and every single person was shocked. They were totally unaware of this decision. It is clear to me a significant portion of south-end residents have no idea that the city council has decided to drastically reduce their access to and from the north end.

The entire length of Island Crest Way -- from 68th to where it becomes four lanes -- is stop and go traffic right now during rush hour. It is obvious that extending the two-lane portion north to 40th will exacerbate the problem.

In addition, at any time of day, on the two-lane section of Island Crest Way, one car going 5-10 mph below the speed limit (which happens regularly) will easily back up 5-10 cars. Imagine what this will do – when you double the distance that is only two lanes.

For those of you who have flexible work schedules – I’m sure this isn’t a big deal.

However, for those of us who must travel to work during specific times of the day – it’ll be a significantly greater inconvenience. I drive ICW multiple times a day – and never see a single biker on it. Using bicyclists as a reason to choose this option is not valid. Bikers use East and West Mercer if they’re going into Seattle – they’re not going to come up to mid-island crest to ride a less scenic path.

Further, spending $500-thousand dollars to implement a modification that might prevent a few car accidents is not a good use of taxpayer’s money, especially since most of the types of recent accidents are not addressed by these changes. The congestion at Merrimount will not go away – until you close one or both of the dangerous entry points. People entering Island Crest Way off 44th are still going to cause accidents there… why not close that entry point to make the road safer? Is it really fair to inconvenience the thousands of south end residents in favor of a few dozen people living down the hill from Merrimount who would need to use West Mercer only when they’re heading north?

In closing, I urge you to seriously reevaluate this decision and ensure that everyone who lives on the south end knows what’s going on. Perhaps send a flyer, postcard or letter to those of us who live here to explain what the city is planning to do.

You will be surprised by the response.

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