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Islanders at odds
The proposed expansion of the Renton municipal airport and the potential for aircraft noise that would accompany it, recently brought Islanders out in droves to protest. Citizen shock over the scale of development in the Town Center is part of the push to modify building codes there. Islanders are fierce about protecting the tranquility of the Island and their way of life. Islanders are equally as fierce about protecting and enhancing the well-being of their children. The PEAK proposal by the Boys and Girls Club to build a teen center and field house near the high school has split these usually-aligned forces and has set them in direct opposition to each other. Neighbors near the high school are clearly, and we think correctly, concerned about the impact of this building on their streets and homes. Supporters of the project and the dedicated professionals of the Boys and Girls Club who are in the business of working with youth, are convinced that they can make it work. They want to peacefully co-exist with the people who live nearby. Their view, however, is that any impact from PEAK is a small price to pay for having a safe and enriching place for teens. It is hard to argue with them unless you live near the high school.
The plan moves to the next step now that the Council has settled the tedious issue of where and when cars must be parked. And yet, two important variables in the equation seem to be missing. What of the future of the entire neighborhood around the high school? If the City can mandate specifics about cars and schedules, why can’t it require the School District to put together a comprehensive plan for the entire super block — a complex, large and extremely valuable piece of land that already serves both youth and community in many different ways?
And finally, do we really know who will use this facility? Where is the third party in this discussion — the teens. Let’s call upon Island youth to help us out here. Let’s ask the kids in their BRIDGES sessions at Mercer Island High School. If we build it, will they come?