City will expand community center hours and operations in January

Community appreciates Illuminate MI events.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously endorsed the Mercer Island Community and Event Center Facility Allocation and Use Policy at its Dec. 9 video meeting.

It’s a critical policy, according to Recreation and Operations Manager Ryan Daly, as the city prepares to expand the center’s hours and operations in the new year.

According to city documents, the policy’s guiding principles are, in part: Actively encouraging participation in recreation, cultural, arts, educational and leisure activities related to health, wellness, social connectivity and skill development; encouraging participation by all residents regardless of ability, age, gender, culture and income; maximizing facility use in a manner that considers quality, safety, and the need for maintenance and renovation.

After a temporary closure from Dec. 24-Jan. 2 for the city to perform annual facility maintenance, the center will reopen on Jan. 3 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“During that time, we’ll be doing some work on the floors and getting the facility all spruced up for that reopening,” Daly said at the meeting. “It completely changes the way this facility is operating. You’re getting your community center back as opposed to just a gym and an art gallery right now.”

Expanded operations will include opening of the lounge, landing, terrace, leap pad and more; rental reservations for the gym, dance room and Slater Room, a meeting spot; and expansion of drop-in sports schedules.

Daly said the expansion will also provide patrons ample time to hang out and visit with other community members. He added that the hours and most of the usage and access will return to what community members experienced pre-pandemic. The Mercer Room and some of the meeting rooms, which are housing the Public Works crew, will not be available to the public until at least May of 2022.

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Daly believes the community has appreciated the second installment of Illuminate MI, which the city held for the first time last year.

Strings of festive lights can be viewed at the Outdoor Sculpture Gallery, along 78th Avenue Southeast, in Mercerdale Park and at the Mercer Island Thrift Shop. Title sponsors are Island Books, John L. Scott and The Mercer Apartments, and event sponsors are the Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC), Realogics Sotheby’s and Aljoya.

“Without these sponsors and many in the public who provided donations, this wouldn’t be an event that would be possible,” Daly said of the monthlong event, which also featured a Hanukkah celebration at Mercerdale Park, a Festival of Lights interactive display at SJCC and more.

The city partnered with Chabad Mercer Island for the 200-attendee Hanukkah gathering, which included an ice-sculpture menorah and a fire performer.

“It was a really well-coordinated event by Chabad Mercer Island and just a great partnership,” Daly said.