A steady, fair hand in a time of change

A lot has happened on Mercer Island on Alan Merkle's watch as mayor for the last six years:

? He dedicated a new community center last weekend, his last official duty. The center almost didn't happen after a bond vote failed in 1998 and a long process to pare down the original plans.

? He helped lead the City Council decision to accept Luther Burbank Park from King County. The 77-acre waterfront park is now the subject of a comprehensive planning process with the public to improve the city's crown jewel.

? Facing a change in regional transportation, Island residents retained their negotiated ability to drive by themselves in the Interstate 90 HOV lanes (a new lane in each direction may eventually be added to the outside of the bridges while transit replaces traffic in the center HOV lanes).

Although Merkle cannot take sole credit for all these, and other, accomplishments, he helped lead the City Council in making its decisions. Through nine years total on the council, he brought his skills as an attorney to guide and direct a City Council of smart people with strong, often differing, views.

Merkle and the council got things done. It could be argued that the last decade has been the most significant since the city incorporated in 1960. Mercer Island is a maturing city, moving from establishing a government and building infrastructure to adapting itself to a changing population and its needs.

All of the council's decisions in the last decade - from redevelopment in the Town Center to preserving open space to retaining easy access on and off the Island -- will enhance Islanders' quality of life for decades to come.

Thank you to Mercer Island's longest-serving mayor for his thoughtful, honest, and productive years of public service and leadership.

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