Letters to the editor

Who is to blame for high gas costs?

We have no one to blame but ourselves on rising gas prices. We, the people, have been held hostage for years by noisy movements that prevent every kind of advancement in the energy field. For years we were told that nuclear energy can never be clean — yet, for example, France produces 85 percent of its energy from nuclear power. We have the technology, just not the will.

We have the technology to drill off-shore and not harm the environment. We can also do so in the Arctic. Instead, the fear mongers have turned the control of our economy to every possible Third World country that is not a friend of ours — the list is endless, and every one of those countries recognizes the power they have been given by the noisy groups that have prevented our own oil exploration.

The last refinery to open in this country started functioning in 1976 in Garyville, La., even though present refineries are running at 100 percent of capacity. In case you can’t do the math, that was 32 years ago. Environmentalists fight planning and construction every step of the way, and government red-tape makes the task of building a new one all but impossible.

We can’t drill, we can’t refine, but we sure can consume. Until we come to our senses as a people and take control from the noisy groups, the cost of gasoline (and diesel) will continue to spiral up and we have no one to blame but ourselves — each individual voter who elects or votes for someone like Darcy Burner.

As they used to say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet” on the price at the pump. It will be $10 per gallon next summer unless we demonstrate our will as a country to become self-sufficient or as close to it as we can and commit to drill off-shore. That is the only thing that will cause a slow down in the price increases!

Steve Travis

A letter to the City Council

I was glad to read in the Reporter of June 11 that the Council had approved spending an additional $35,000 to finish the South-end trail, and that work will restart soon. We at the South end have long needed a safe path between S.E. 68th Street and S.E. 78th Street for walkers, joggers, school kids and parents with strollers. Up to now, they have all had to use the shoulders, which at best does not make for a relaxing experience and at worst is unsafe. Thanks to all of you on the Council for conceiving and implementing this project.

It was unfortunate that the cost of the original plan came in at much more than the original budgeted figure so that the scope of the project had to change. I’m concerned that the surface is now to be gravel, for several reasons. (Do I remember correctly that it was originally to be asphalt?)

· Gravel doesn’t stay in place, thus maintenance will increase.

· Gravel allows remaining roots of native shrubs and vines to penetrate as they resprout, thus greatly increasing maintenance. As a person who has gardened at the South end for 33 years, I can assure you that our native vegetation is tough.

· Gravel will not accommodate wheelchairs. This seems a missed opportunity, given that a meandering trail through nice plantings would be a real amenity for folks who use wheelchairs. In an era when accessibility is finally happening, it’s a shame to see the City of Mercer Island behind the curve on this one.

· Gravel will, according to the Reporter article, accommodate “most” strollers. I’d add “with difficulty.” (And many of the strollers I see when I drive along Island Crest Way are double strollers — lots of luck with that.)

· Gravel is said to accommodate “recreational bikes, commonly used by children,” but not road bikes. Well, kids love a challenge, and gravel will give them one, so that’s fine (except maybe for the really little ones on tricycles). And, yes, adult cyclists will probably choose the road. In fact, since the path is to be only five feet wide, I’d hope that the trail will be prominently signed “NO ROAD BIKES ALLOWED.”

In contrast with gravel, the asphalt surface of the path on the west side of 84th Avenue S.E. between S.E. 72nd Street and S.E. 78th Street (bordering Islander Middle School and the South Mercer playfields) appears to be virtually maintenance-free.

I’m wondering whether the Council has consulted with Parks & Maintenance staff on the maintenance question? Is it possible that whatever dollars the city saves in the short-term on the new path by choosing the cheaper gravel option will be more than overbalanced by maintenance costs over the long-term: frequent vegetation control, plus topping up the gravel from time to time? (I have no idea how maintenance staff would deal with the gravel thrown out of the path and into the plantings by foot and wheel traffic.)

Is it possible to take another look at asphalt as a surface option, and try to find the money somewhere in the city’s budget — perhaps using some of the $216,000 saved from the original appropriation for the Merrimount revision?

Alice Copp Smith

M.I. SafeRides says thanks to community

M.I. SafeRides could not exist without the tremendous community support it has received since its inception in early 2004. On behalf of the program, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of our youth volunteers and adult supervisors who continue to plan their Saturday nights around providing safe and confidential rides home for Island teens in need. I would also like to recognize Youth Board members Rebecca Schnoor, Morgan Schoenecker, Jordan Baer, Lauren Reel, Arielle Snyder and Dave Morse. The time spent and commitment made by these individuals has been instrumental in creating a sense of awareness that makes M.I. SafeRides a viable element of community service on Mercer Island.

In addition to the efforts made by our program’s volunteers, I wish to extend a big “THANKS” to the families who have made monetary donations over the past year to Hollywood Video for providing movies, Sahara Pizza for delicious pizza and M.I. Covenant Church for allowing us to operate our program in their youth center. Through volunteer support and donations received from the families, merchants and leaders in our community, M.I. SafeRides will continue to provide a “safe ride home” to our youth. Again, on behalf of the program, thank you for your continued support. Have a safe and wonderful summer!

Leanne Reel

Director, M.I. SafeRides

M.I. SafeRides, 979-RIDE, operates on Saturday evenings from 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m.

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