City moves toward rebuilding its Parks and Recreation Department

Council appropriates $328,000 for recovery efforts.

Nearly a year after the city suspended Parks and Recreation Department programs due to the pandemic, the Mercer Island City Council unanimously voted on April 20 to appropriate $328,000 toward rebuilding some of the department’s community offerings.

Some services on the immediate action plan docket include field rentals, the P-patch and summer camps.

The amount noted is the remaining funding set aside for preliminary Parks and Recreation and Arts Council recovery efforts, with a goal of resuming some programs by this summer, according to a city press release.

Ryan Daly, the city’s Parks and Recreation operations manager, said at the meeting that council earmarked $400,000 for the department’s reset when adopting its 2021-2022 Biennial Budget and $72,000 went toward hiring a recreation specialist.

“That money was set aside as a placeholder and not appropriated. Staff, in coordination with the Parks and Recreation Commission, created that draft strategy. Within that strategy is a roadmap, so to speak, that would progress us forward to service restoration,” he said.

The meeting featured a 90-minute study session at the start where council and the Parks and Recreation Commission delved into the Mercer Island Community and Event Center and Recreation Programs and Services Strategy Implementation.

In a recap of the plan with Daly later in the meeting, Jason Kintner, the city’s Public Works chief of operations, said that staff will next resume its work with consultant Emily Moon and the commission in solidifying the plan.

“The intent here is to remain nimble and to be able to adjust and move with the flow,” said Kintner, adding that they’ve set up a long-term strategy. “We’re going to actively work towards implementing drafting and implementing those policies and procedures for the long game, but the short game we do need some flexibility as we continue to monitor the pandemic.”

They’re focused on working with the commission and the community to articulate what the plan will entail, he said.

Councilmember David Rosenbaum agreed that communicating with residents along the way is a crucial facet of the reset plan.

“I know people are really eager to get this back up and running, so I would definitely encourage you to lean into that, especially given that things could change week to week,” he said.

For more information, visit https://letstalk.mercergov.org/recreation-micec-planning.

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