OPINION: City needs tools, should be partner in institution planning

Guest opinion from former mayor Alan Merkle

  • Thursday, October 11, 2018 12:34pm
  • Opinion

City leaders are evaluating a comprehensive plan amendment, which would impact three of the Island’s long-standing organizations – the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC), French American School of Puget Sound (FASPS) and Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation.

There have been good discussions recently with nearby neighbors, and others in the community, about what this long-term planning means and if it’s right for the Island.

Here’s my take: This is good government from our city leaders.

Without a comprehensive plan amendment that unifies this fragmented zoning, we lack a mechanism to proactively shape potential future growth.

I remember similar discussions when I had the privilege of serving on the city council and as mayor a decade ago. Our challenges then were larger and more complex – during my tenure, the conversations were around our downtown redevelopment and the south-end QFC development. The issues presented were challenging, and we learned a lot as city leaders, staff and as a community. Perhaps none more important than the value of proactive city planning to prevent piece-meal growth.

Providing the city with the tools necessary to manage predictable, accountable, coordinated development is essential.

We should expect the SJCC, Herzl-Ner Tamid and FASPS to update their aging facilities in the coming years. These institutions serve Islanders well, and they should be able to plan for the future in a thoughtful and reasonable way. The city needs to be a good partner in that process.

Alan Merkle, former mayor of Mercer Island and FASPS Board member

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