Council votes to prohibit dogs on turf fields
This rule is already in effect for most turf fields on the Island, which are on school property. Animals are prohibited on all public school grounds, and are not allowed on a sports field when practices, games or other organized activities are in progress.
Mercer Island Parks and Recreation is completing the Island Crest Park Sportsfield Improvement Project, which will result in a 2.3-acre synthetic turf field. This will be the first synthetic turf field that is not on school property.
Pet feces and urine on synthetic turf affects public health and safety, according to the council’s agenda bill. The plastic, sand and cork surface is not a biological system, so the waste does not readily break down.
The ordinance also creates an exception for service animals, which brings it into compliance with anti-discrimination laws.
City launches survey on communications
The city of Mercer Island has one half-time staff position dedicated to communications and engagement work. In order to make the best use of this limited resource, and serve residents better, it is conducting a brief survey online about the most effective ways it can communicate with the community.
The survey will be open through Nov. 1 at this link: www.surveymonkey.com/r/MI-Comm-Survey.
Residents tune in for Telephone Town Hall
City employees discussed Mercer Island’s financial challenges with residents during a Telephone Town Hall on Oct. 11.
The city’s vendor called over 4,500 residents with an invitation, and 265 people chose to join in at 7 p.m., with about 100 staying on for the hour-long call.
City Manager Julie Underwood said “it was a very useful exercise for all involved and we hope very informative for listeners.”
When answering polling questions, about two-thirds of respondents felt the city provides “about the right amount of services.” Islanders are split on how to pay for them: about half would be willing to pay more taxes to maintain those services, while half would rather see services cut to balance the budget.
The city noted that the poll was not scientific, as the respondents were self-selected.
To view full polling results, see www.mercergov.org/files/TTH_Report_Web_11Oct2017.pdf.
The city plans to hold a second Telephone Town Hall in March 2018 to discuss additional financial questions.
City expands charging options for electric vehicles
Acting on a two-for-one upgrade offer from its vendor, the city recently upgraded its oldest charging unit (which is eight years old) at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center, and added a unit at City Hall.
The new equipment from ChargePoint adds capacity by allowing two vehicles to charge simultaneously from the same station, using separate cords, both capable of delivering power at 240 volts.
At this rate, a current model Nissan LEAF can be filled up (i.e. 80 miles of range) in about four hours.
The upgrade means the city now has five 240 volt stalls and one 120 volt stall at City Hall, and two 240 volt stalls at MICEC. All city charging costs $1 per hour. The Mercer Island School District has also recently expanded its charging equipment, and other private business offers charging in the Town Center.
As of June 2017, there are 373 registered battery-powered EVs on Mercer Island, up from 156 three years ago, according to the state’s Department of Licensing.