Park plans are moving forward. The Mercer Island City Council unanimously adopted the Aubrey Davis Park Master Plan at its Dec. 3 meeting.
The plan provides a long-term vision for the park and also serves as a tool to renegotiate the city’s maintenance agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). The park is primarily owned by WSDOT but maintained by the city.
The full scale plan and all its projects could cost about $63 million dollars. The goal is to have WSDOT share some of that cost.
The 60-page plan focuses on four key areas: Vegetation restoration, trails improvements, park improvements, and arts and place-making. The plan has a couple new projects and amenities updates, but focuses primarily on maintaining and preserving the park.
“Parks in a community bring people together no matter what,” said Ryan Daly, interim parks and recreation director. “To have this pass so positively after such a large community effort really demonstrates that.”
The plan is the product of a two-year community effort during which the city performed a great deal of outreach including hosting open houses, holding discussions and conducting online surveys. Plan information is published to the city’s Let’s Talk website (https://letstalk.mercergov.org/AubreyDavis).
Daly said it’s all thanks to the city council, parks and recreation commission, arts council, city staff and many involved residents that the plan has been successful.
“There were twists and turns. It took quite a bit of work to mold it into its final state, but it’s because of all the players that it passed unanimously,” Daly said. “I’m very excited.”
After the Nov. 4 council meeting presentation of the Draft Master Plan, staff received some feedback and requests for edits, and then made those revisions.
Daly said the only actual change project-wise that occurred in the form of an amendment during the Dec. 3 council meeting was to remove an optional informal soft surface trail.
Other than that, Daly said the city mostly made small edits to language and staff is now brushing things up to have a clean final document.
The plan not only provides an opportunity to work with WSDOT and potentially get them to share some of the costs, but also makes the city more eligible for receiving project grants. A Washington State Department of Commerce grant of $500,000 already was given to the Parks and Recreation department to improve park trail safety.
Now the city council has tasked the Parks and Recreation commission and the city manager to come up with a recommended scope of work for the grant specific to trail safety improvement. That scope of work is to be presented to the city council in the first quarter of 2020.
Since the plan is only conceptual, its individual projects will require planning and approval before anything can be carried out. Public input will continue to be gathered for those processes as well.
“It’s a lot of fun to be able to work with the community and have a positive outcome like this,” Daly said.
“That energized us,” he added, saying the plan gives staff a direction for their work.
He said there have been some conversations with WSDOT and the agency has been kept informed throughout the plan process, but they have not yet formally undergone renegotiation. He said the city will be sending WSDOT the plan for adoption soon.
“I’m excited to adopt the plan and hit the ground running and get things done,” Daly said.