Opinion

PEAK project would overwhelm neighbors

I want to address the PEAK project. This proposed facility, 50 feet from 86th Avenue S.E., is an out-of-scale community-center-sized building that is proposed to be placed smack in the middle of an already extremely busy neighborhood. It will overwhelm us.

The section of 86th Avenue between S.E. 40th Street and Island Crest Way is one of the most heavily traveled streets on Mercer Island. It is a major conduit for Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Emanuel Episcopal Church, St. Monica’s, the Library, Little Acorn Day School, Patti’s Play Center, Northwest Montessori, the School Administration Building, Crest Learning Center, Metro bus routes, provides access to the high school. It serves as a shortcut between S.E. 40th Street and Island Crest Way, and it serves many homes. Also, S.E. 40th Street is a major Island corridor, especially during daily rush hours.

I would like to place particular emphasis on the fact that the streets in this neighborhood are already some of the most impacted in the city. Adding the PEAK structure will greatly exacerbate the current situation. A year or more of construction traffic, significantly increased Boys-and-Girls Club traffic, parking issues, and one of the largest buildings on the Island looming over our homes makes for an untenable situation.

I believe that as a neighborhood we already have a major role in maintaining the Island’s infrastructure. Members of the city staff, the City Council and the School Board have been blithely unaware and blissfully blind to the impact of PEAK on our neighborhood. None of them live in this neighborhood. They wouldn’t like it if their own neighborhoods had to contend with these problems. They should not be hypocritical and impose them on us with the little attention they appear to have expended. I am disgusted that each body marches to its own drummer, with no coordination. The School Board, in particular, seems to believe that it has full responsibilities for the schools and their campuses. That’s baloney. The School Board must deal with educational issues, but issues of land use and property management often properly belong to the city because of their impact beyond the schools. We taxpayers are the ultimate owners of this land.

The city spent close to $200,000 coming up with an integrated plan for Luther Burbank Park. Why not spend some money and take the time to work with all residents of the Island to come up with an integrated plan for the treatment of the high school campus? It is as least as important to the Island as Luther Burbank is. The current PEAK location is not even the first choice of the Boys-and-Girls Club on the school campus.

Instead of doing things piecemeal, why not adopt an integrated plan for growth that would satisfy all of us? We are not a poor Island. We should be able to do better.

Considering the difficulties (still unresolved) that our government agencies (King County, Port Authority) have in trading the King County Airport for a railroad right-of-way, I am amazed that the City Council and the School Board would cause this disruption for a non-government organization and even pay some of its planning bills. There are legal issues here that are muddy, since the Boys-and-Girls Club is a private organization. The property belongs to the city. What is actually legal here? Are we expected to pay operational expenses in the future? Is fair market value being obtained?

Officials must face up to the issues I have raised before moving one step more on this proposal.

Robert K. Clark is a Mercer Island resident who lives near the high school and the proposed site for he Boys and Girls Club PEAK project.

Community Events, April 2014

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