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I have recently become aware of a memorial project in memory of Steve Haba that is proposed for Luther Burbank Park. The plan is to place it at the extreme north end of LBP on a pristine, grassy meadow. The memorial is to be a large 20-by-40-foot, almond-shaped cement pad.
At the Council meeting on June 21, Councilmembers Steve Litzow, Mike Cero, El Jahncke and Mike Grady voted to reallocate the ICW/Merrimount road funds for 2010 to repave residential streets in 2011. I have given up on my idea of community input (and politicians listening) when looking at the process that occurred to un-fund the ICW/Merrimount project.
Recently at Luther Burbank Park, my mom, my friend and I were at the off-leash dog park, and our dog was minding his own business and was having a great time until a non-neutered dog came up and started a fight. This was the second time encountering a fight with a non-neutered dog.
I had the opportunity to watch the June 21 City Council meeting on public access TV and, in short, I was shocked by the behavior and decisions of the Council. To my understanding, the city has already spent over $250,000 on studies and engineering on the ICW corridor. The Council has twice taken action to revise the corridor to a three-way configuration after unprecedented public involvement and comment on the configuration. I am well aware that we are in a recession and that revenues for the city are down, but the action taken by the Council was in direct contradiction to the recommendations of the independent engineers for improving the corridor, which was the cheapest alternative of the many options.
Your notices in the Mercer Island Reporter on June 23, covering both your regular meeting on Thursday, June 24, and your special meeting on Monday, June 28, are excellent examples of the communication an elected body should have with its citizens. Listing agenda items and issues in the notices, as you have done, helps citizens be informed. Holding the special meeting in the district, at the Mercer Island High School library, makes it easier for Mercer Island residents to attend.
Perhaps Marguerite Sutherland (Letters to the Editor, June 23) would better understand the rationale for the ICW reconfiguration if she thought of it as a safer alternative for pedestrians, cars, and, yes, bicycles rather than an effort simply to create a lane for bicyclists. I’m sure that Alec Langston, the young man recently struck by a car while attempting to cross ICW in a crosswalk, would agree.
Messrs. Gulliford and Wells’ aggressive, anti-bicycling letters fortunately do not represent the attitudes of most Mercer Island drivers. But as their letters, the school bus incident, and several recent, dangerous road rage incidents attest, bicycling on Mercer Island is far more dangerous than it needs to be. First let’s deal with the errors in their letters. Bicyclists are not “guests” on Washington roads. Mr. Wells’ view that one’s right to use the road is proportional to the size of one’s vehicle is a sad misconception. Drivers of cars, bicycles and 3/4 ton trucks all have the same rights and responsibilities.
Regarding City Councilmember Mike Grady’s recent bicycle rage incident, I faced the brunt of a similar outpouring of rage with the same Councilmember. At a recent Puget Sound Prosperity Partnership luncheon (where Alan Mulally was the speaker), he approached our table. I commented that it was concerning that he had voted for the expensive and inefficient Island Crest “road diet,” which many Islanders opposed. We went back and forth — he about saving the planet and “global warming,” the need to get out of our cars and ride bicycles, etc.
On Saturday, June 5, at 5 p.m. there was a four-car rear-ender on Island Crest just north of the road diet and the Island Crest Way-Merrimount intersection. The four cars were all in the left-hand lane heading south. So why would this happen? It’s very simple. Many drivers realize that after the traffic light at 40th they will need to be in the left-hand lane approaching the Merrimount and 44th Street intersection and so position themselves accordingly. In order to prevent those who go faster in the right lane from getting in, they will tailgate all the way. It happens all the time.
Why wasn’t this out-of-control cyclist charged with road rage and/or using his influence as a Councilman to harass and intimidate? If another citizen had behaved as he did, rest assured there would have been some law enforcement repercussion. At the least, Grady needs counseling to curb his hot-headed and outrageous response to a school bus driver.
Our dog, Happy, a blonde cocker spaniel, died suddenly and quickly this last week of an auto-immune disease. She was only 9. I walked her downtown from our home on West Mercer Way three days a week. I think she would want me to tell so many Mercer Islanders, especially business owners, “Thank you.”
The Mercer Island Community Fund recently presented a grant to the Mercer Island High School choir and orchestra departments as scholarship opportunities for financially struggling students. The scholarship money will be used to defray some of the costs of a music festival trip that will take place over Memorial Day Weekend in Vancouver, B.C., and will include the Bel Canto Choir, Midnight Blues Jazz Choir, the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Symphonic Orchestra.
This month is an opportunity for us to become more aware of mental health problems, both our own and others. Given the current economic stressors in our country, more of us are experiencing anxiety and depression and could benefit from help. Yet a large majority of people who are suffering do not seek help due to the stigma that still exists around mental illness.
The Mercer Island Farmers Market has received a generous grant of $2,000 from the Community Fund for the 2009 season. These funds will be used to bring music to the market every Sunday, with a focus on Island musicians, and to support special entertainment for children. Last year, the Community Fund provided seed funding for the market to begin operations, the first tangible support from our community. Once again, the Community Fund is helping our market grow into an event that nourishes our community as it supports local farmers and farmland.
Faced with increasingly distressing economic news, many Islanders may conclude that it is the wrong time to be approving the parks and recreation levies that are on the November ballot.