Mercer Island parks petition kick-off is Saturday

Group needs 3,000 signatures by the end of May to get its initiative on the November ballot.

Members of the Concerned Citizens for Mercer Island Parks gather in Mercerdale

The Concerned Citizens for Mercer Island Parks (CCMIP) is inviting the community to a kick-off celebration for its petition to protect the city’s parks and open spaces.

The event will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Island Crest Park, 5500 Island Crest Way. There will be a short presentation by CCMIP members, and copies of the initiative will be available to distribute and sign. Light refreshments will be served.

Since receiving the official initiative statement from the city attorney on March 5, the group has 90 days to secure 3,000 signatures to get its initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The initiative “would limit changes in use of existing city of Mercer Island parkland and open space” and “require that city parkland and open space may be sold, leased, transferred or changed to non-parkland use only after the City Council holds a public hearing and enacts an ordinance finding the change in use necessary,” according to the initiative statement.

This initiative also requires replacement of affected parkland and open space with land of equal or better value in the same vicinity to achieve “no net loss” of such property. It would designate the properties that comprise the city’s current park and open space system, specify non-parkland uses and provide judicial review of council action authorizing changes of use.

The group is worried about the potential precedent set by the 38,000 square foot Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) currently sited in Mercerdale Park.

Supporters of the arts center have called the citizen petition an “anti-MICA” initiative.

“Mercer Island faces increasing pressures to convert precious parkland to non-park uses,” according to a CCMIP press release sent March 7. “In recent decades, largely because of community outcry, many proposed projects that threatened MI parklands have been rejected.”

Examples of proposed structures rejected on parkland included a school, a restaurant/ marina, a housing development and a parking garage. Others threats have included: a golf course in Pioneer Park, a wireless facility in Clise Park, a fire station and City Hall in Mercerdale Park, according to the group.

“If citizens don’t act now, development pressures to convert parklands will continue to escalate,” according to the press release. “Parks are irreplaceable, invaluable, and serve to maintain the beauty, utility, and sustainability of our community.”

Parks also provide playgrounds and sports fields for children, mitigate global warming, provide habitat for wildlife and contribute to the economic value of Island properties, the release states.

To donate or volunteer,  visit www.protectMIparks.org, call 206-948-4039, contact protectMIparks@gmail.com or send mail to CCMIP, PO Box 1337, Mercer Island, WA 98040.

CCMIP is a Political Action Committee. Donations are not tax deductible.

 


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