Council set to adopt new residential standards
At its Sept. 5 meeting, the Mercer Island City Council reviewed the residential code changes for the sixth time. The council had an informal 5-2 vote to adopt the new standards, and have them go into effect on Oct. 30, though city staff may suggest Nov. 1. Councilmembers Wendy Weiker and Salim Nice voted against the plan, with Nice suggesting that they go into effect as soon as possible and Weiker requesting a delay.
The council plans to have its final reading on the new building code, along with a revised tree code, at its Sept. 19 meeting. City staff will also present funding options to the council to expand the positions of city arborist and code compliance officer from half time to full time.
For more, see www.mercergov.org/CouncilMeetings.
New software will streamline records requests
Island residents who wish to request public records from the city can look forward to a new online system, starting in early October, called NextRequest. And for the first time, everyone can see what has been requested as well as the city’s official response.
The web portal can also help people find information without a public records request, by directing them to relevant reports and pages that are already on the city’s website. The portal will also assist the city in better complying with a raft of new reporting requirements handed down by the state this summer without any funding provided.
In responding to a Washington State Auditor’s survey in 2015, Mercer Island concluded it spent close to $300,000 the previous year addressing public records requests. Spietz and paralegal Mary Swan spend more than half of their work hours responding to records requests every week.
City recycles sports field sand
The Island Crest Park project, which involves turf renovation and LED lamp installation, is scheduled to be finished this November. Parks and Recreation staff have been looking for ways to make the project better, including recycling up to 12 inches of fine sand underlay fill.
In order to install new synthetic turf in the outfield, the old underlay fill must be excavated. Rather than disposing of that expensive material, it is being transported to other Island sports fields and recycled for use as a top dressing to improve drainage and turf health, saving the city money.
Later this year, the sand will be driven into the grass with spiked rollers, then reseeded, at various locations such as the South Mercer Playfields.
MIPD updates policy on immigration status
The Mercer Island Police Department recently updated its policy on immigration status, releasing a video to clarify its position and to better reflect the values of the community.
MIPD Chief Ed Holmes said that “people should feel safe contacting the police, regardless of their immigration status,” and “enforcement of the federal immigration laws is not something for local police departments to do.”
Watch the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LfXJfV_sXI&feature=youtu.be, and read the policy at www.mercergov.org/files/MIPD_Immigration_Policy.pdf.