Parks and Recreation Commission endorses athletic facilities policy

City staff presents update draft at recent meeting.

Usage of Mercer Island athletic facilities is in demand as evidenced by more than 6,000 hours of field rentals in 2021.

City recreation coordinator Dave Setterlund rolled out that vital information at the Parks and Recreation Commission video meeting on May 5.

While discussing staff’s development of an update draft to the city’s current Field Use Policy — now tagged as the Athletic Facilities Allocation and Use Policy — Setterlund said it was obvious that the facilities are a huge community resource.

“But also the fields are finite, and as such, it’s important for staff to strike the right balance to maximize our resources while also protecting it,” he added.

The policy update is hinged on the guiding principles of being benefits-focused (health, wellness, social connectivity and skill development), supporting diverse uses, being equitable and fair and reflecting good stewardship. With those four tenets in mind, staff recommended that the commission endorse the policy and support staff establishing updated procedures for athletic facility allocation and use.

The commission voted in favor of both recommendations.

In the first time the policy has come before the commission, staff intended to update the 2016 field-user policy as part of the city’s reset strategy focused on the Mercer Island Community and Event Center and recreation programs and services, according to Setterlund and a city document. That document also notes that on April 12, staff shared the draft policy with athletic field users and received input on adherence to application deadlines, increased field time and more.

According to Setterlund’s presentation at the meeting and a city document, staff feels that user groups should receive priority access based on residency, age demographic and nonprofit status, and that usage by a single group/team should be limited in order to attempt to accommodate all groups wishing to utilize the facilities.

The updated policy zeroes in on all athletic facilities, including batting cages, concession stands, courts and more; and aims to provide opportunities for new and emerging users and sports.

On the procedural front, Chris Delaune, recreation facilities supervisor, said there will be clear user expectations, staff will communicate and execute clear booking processes, booking efficiency will be in accordance with the policy and the process will provide accountability to staff and users.

“Staff will be continuing to engage our user groups to help develop and inform our procedures moving forward,” he said.