December 8, 2009 · 11:15 AM
As a resident of the South end of Mercer Island and a dog owner, I am concerned with the posture and tone that the Mercer Island School District seems to be taking with the community at large around use of district/community space (track, South Mercer playfields, etc). People have been using the South Mercer fields for casual play and dog walking in the early morning and evening when school is not in session for many years. In that time, I have rarely seen problem behaviors or people who don’t pick up after their animals. But I have seen groups of people enjoying access to the track and field before and after school. The move to restrict these areas has upset many people.
Most residents of Mercer Island do not have children in the schools. When I made calls for the Schools Foundation phone-a-thon, we made the case that everyone in the community benefits from this great resource. The district is dependent on that goodwill. I suspect that citizens who can no longer enjoy the use of district facilities will be less likely to support other school needs. Certainly, the district cannot afford an adversarial relationship with the larger community. I want to encourage the district and city to resolve this issue and restore access for community members.