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Letter | The ‘cost’ of a simple lemonade stand
Throughout Seafair at the corner of West Mercer Way and the eastbound off-ramp of I-90, a group of teenage kids had a concession stand. It was a booming business. They sold cases of water, popsicles, lemonade and more. The stand was staged on the corner, but behind the scenes, they had their inventory stashed up on the vacant lot behind the Verizon Wireless building. The lot is owned by the Department of Transportation and part of it is leased to Verizon. They came and went, hauling in truckloads of stuff and parking on the vacant lot that was otherwise closed for public parking. The Mercer Island police and traffic control had a huge presence on the same corner.
All during Seafair, the kids spread trash across the property. At one point I had a brief discussion with one of the boys about not leaving a mess when they were done. I was assured that they would not. Shame on me for assuming that they would be responsible, and shame on me for assuming that the city would not allow such a large operation to exist without a permit or a business license.
When Seafair was over, the mess was left behind — including several folding tables, an overflowing trash bin and a large pile of garbage blowing in the wind. I attempted to contact those responsible. I was not successful. I called the City of Mercer Island and talked to code enforcement, who told me that they would look into it. They also told me that no permit was issued or required. A Mercer Island official returned my call to tell me that they could do nothing about it. In fact I was told that it was often not about justice on Mercer Island and that the taxpayers would probably end up paying to have it cleaned up, as the land belongs to the Department of Transportation.
Workers came and cleaned up the mess. The kids who made all of the profits were never held responsible. Chances are, they didn’t pay taxes on the income from their stand. So that leaves the rest of us who do pay taxes to bear that burden. Somehow, it doesn’t seem quite right. Next year will be different.