Opinion

Solid record of accomplishment by council - Island Forum

By Dan Grausz

Two weeks ago, Lisa Belden used this page to call for the electoral defeat of Alan Merkle, Jim Pearman and myself. Most Islanders pride themselves on being able to maintain civil discourse. Councilmembers may disagree on some issues but we treat each other with integrity and mutual respect. By embracing a policy of civility, we have achieved a solid record of accomplishment.

In the areas of parks, we purchased and protected Luther Burbank Park, expanded Pioneer Park, preserved Clise Park, appropriated funds to begin restoring the health of our parks and open space, and added trails. To provide citizens with a suitable place for senior, youth and community programming, we are building a beautiful community center and doing it without raising taxes.

Our road system is the envy of other communities, as we not only maintain our streets, but have added bike and pedestrian paths wherever possible. Commuter parking will be increased at the Park and Ride through the construction of a facility paid for by Sound Transit that will be fully consistent with the character of the neighborhood. At the same time, we have refused to compromise our quality of life by rejecting efforts to widen Island Crest south of 53rd. Our police and fire departments provide exemplary protection. As shown last week, our officers are willing and able to protect us.

The Town Center is in the middle of a rebirth, but one being done in accordance with strict design guidelines passed by this council so that when the current building cycle ends, we will have a vibrant and livable business and residential community. Outside the Town Center, this council approved design guidelines that will safeguard neighborhoods in which non-residential buildings are proposed.

We have a long-term contract with Seattle that will guarantee an adequate and affordable water supply for decades to come. We have strengthened our reservoir near the high school so it can withstand an earthquake. We have supported our school system by contributing to the building of the new stadium and funding drug and alcohol counselors and other school programs.

Then there is I-90, what some call the third rail of M.I. politics. We have rebuffed efforts by Seattle and Bellevue to immediately eliminate center roadway access. In letters printed in last week's Reporter, Aubrey Davis, our former mayor and Chair of the State Transportation Commission, together with current Mayor Alan Merkle, thoroughly refuted much of what Belden said. As they explained, there was no lost M.I. ``veto power,'' there has been no disbanding of any I-90 Steering Committee and the current work on adding carpool lanes to the outer roadways will not cost us our center roadway access but will instead improve Islander mobility.

In addition, what Belden characterized as conclusions of the Sound Transit Environmental Impact Statement were actually quotes from a ``draft workbook'' prepared by the Puget Sound Regional Council and from an American Public Transportation Association ``technical review committee.'' Sound Transit neither accepted nor endorsed either statement. When she tells people that bus rapid transit (BRT) could soon cost us our center roadway access, she fails to mention Sound Transit's characterization of BRT as ``highly problematic.''

The fact that the council's I-90 solution was supported by Aubrey Davis, Ben Werner, Elliot Newman, Judy Clibborn, Fred Jarrett and Brian Weinstein speaks volumes. Can anyone believe that all of them and the council are part of some grand conspiracy to undermine the very community we all live in?

I am proud of the City Council that I have been fortunate to serve on for the past five years. While some legislative bodies are reduced to partisan bickering and political gridlock, this council has been successful in maintaining the stellar quality of life that brought many of us to this Island and keeps us here. Whether it be me or someone else, we need to ensure that whoever serves on the council in future years refuses to succumb to the politics of fear, personal destruction and deception.

Dan Grausz has served on the Mercer Island City Council since 1999.

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