Editorial | Pipes and preschools
April 8, 2009 · Updated 9:51 AM
Despite the frustrating business about changes, or the lack thereof, at Merrimount and Island Crest Way, the city forges ahead on less visible public necessities that are only important to us when they fail or are absent. The city continues to grind through the years-long process of replacing the old sewer lake line — a project that not only means pulling up and replacing the 50-year-old pipes within Lake Washington, but managing the reconstruction of the dozens of side sewers at homes near the water on the northwest end of the Island. Not only is the engineering complex, but the regulations and requirements that must be followed come from myriad agencies. The lake line project has had its issues and its victories too, including changes that have reduced the scope and cost of the project. Now that the city has had to place a staging area for its barges and equipment for the project at a popular street end park in the East Seattle neighborhood, residents are understandably chagrined. Yet it is not forever, and once completed, the project will ensure that the unsexy business of disposing of waste water will be done properly to preserve the local ecology of our beloved lake and, yes, the property values of lake front homes.
Another almost imperceptible, but very positive move by the city is the change in the zoning of residential neighborhoods to allow more home day cares and preschools. The Mercer Island School District is considering taking back the space it leases to these businesses on its land near the high school. In a community that values education nearly above all else, having adequate and nearby day care or preschool facilities is a no-brainer. Yet day care facilities are often an afterthought. They end up in basements or back rooms of churches and homes. Research shows that children who attend these schools are better prepared socially and skillwise for kindergarten and beyond. And there are other benefits. Island parents and people who live elsewhere and work here will be potentially driving less and perhaps less stressed about their lives in general. Will day cares increase traffic in residential neighborhoods here? Yes. But zoning rules include rules and standards for traffic, and we presume that day care operators and parents will make a concerted effort to respect those who live nearby. Of all the non-residential uses allowed in a neighborhood, it is perhaps one that many would welcome, generating less congestion than a school, church, synagogue or retail shop.
Here at the Reporter, we have a day care not even 25 yards away from our door — the sound of play is always welcome and, yes, we practically live here.