City manager provides updates on MI buildings

Planning is underway on future public safety and maintenance property.

Police modular buildings, a public safety and maintenance building, new Bike Skills Area signage and other items were given the update treatment at the April 2 Mercer Island City Council meeting.

During City Manager Jessi Bon’s report to council early in the meeting, she delved into a pair of specific items that were born as a result of the closure of city hall. Nearly a year ago on April 17, the building was shuttered after asbestos-contaminated broken tiles were discovered in the boiler room.

Council, which unanimously voted to direct the permanent closure of the building on Oct. 3 of last year, paved the way for a future public safety and maintenance building with a recent 7-0 vote to get the planning process moving forward.

The new building would be positioned on the current city hall campus at 9611 SE 36th St., where a pair of police modular buildings were delivered in March and will soon temporarily house the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD). Police operations — which were previously run out of the city hall property — are currently taking place in a Luther Burbank Park building.

Bon praised the city’s Public Works teams for their efforts in the police relocation realm.

“They’ve been working over the last two weeks to connect these buildings to utilities — water and sewer infrastructure, to be specific. We also set the infrastructure in place for the third modular building that we’ll take delivery of over the next few months,” said Bon, adding that building usage could occur in a month or so after they’re connected to electrical and data service.

On the public safety and maintenance building front, Bon said the design work and planning is underway on the property that is intended to accommodate MIPD and its vehicles, the entirety of the city’s maintenance teams and their equipment, a large amount of the Public Works staff and more. The current Public Works building sits at the rear of the city hall campus and is due for replacement.

“We have been intensely meeting with our consultants. The purpose of these meetings is to better understand our operations, how work flows in the facilities,” said Bon, who added that council will receive a preliminary concept design and early cost estimates in late June.

The Bike Skills Area at Deane’s Children’s Park now features new signage at four Island Crest Park trailheads along 84th Avenue Southeast so that riders and drivers can traverse their routes in a more safely manner. Bon noted that cyclists are now more aware that they’re approaching a road while utilizing the trails, which was one of the concerns raised by community members.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve and learn now that this new amenity is open to us,” Bon said.

Over at the Luther Burbank Boiler Building, crews are digging into phase-one construction, which features seismic retrofits, chimney reinforcement and restrooms renovation. This phase of work is anticipated for completion this summer, and phase-two work of renovating the docks and remaining waterfront area is slated to commence in 2025.

According to a previous Reporter story, the docks concept design overview includes renovating the north pier, installing new breakwater/small powerboard moorage and a new non-motorized dock while reusing the existing float.

Also at the April 2 meeting, councilmembers engaged in a robust discussion and released a 5-2 vote in favor of reconstituting the Planning Commission, which will include a non-resident paid practitioner; a resident lay person (not compensated); and a resident paid practitioner. Any vacancy may be filled by a resident lay person if the city is unable to find a qualified paid practitioner, council’s report noted.