With students enjoying their time on the multi-purpose field in the background, Mercer Island School District Superintendent Fred Rundle announced the soft opening of the new South Mercer Playfields in a recent video.
The city-school district joint construction project kicked off late last March and features laying of synthetic turf for soccer, lacrosse and football, LED lighting, new dugouts and the addition of a small secondary playfield, a previous Reporter article noted. As he stood in dead-center field on the massive MI logo, Rundle said in the Facebook video that district girls softball teams and others will commence using their new turfed field come springtime.
A total pre-tax price tag for the project rolls in at about $5.75 million, with $750,000 coming from the city, according to a report at the Nov. 3 linkage session with staff and board members and administrators from the district and city.
“Our Capital (Projects) and Technology Levy, along with support from the city, made this come together,” Rundle said of the fields that will be utilized by the district, community, Boys and Girls Club and more organizations. “We’re really excited about more spaces for our students to play, more places for our community to convene.”
According to the school district, rental scheduling for the now-open multi-purpose field will be available soon, and the remainder of the fields — along with the restrooms and playground — will open in mid-January.
In the Feb. 8, 2022, special election, Islanders passed the aforementioned Replacement Capital Projects and Technology Levy (72.12%) and Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy (73.66%).
According to King County Elections, the six-year Capital Projects and Technology Levy will replace an expiring levy and raises a range of $7.7 million to $8.4 million in property taxes within the school district for collection each year from 2023-2028.
In a video posted on the school district Facebook page after the results were certified last February, former superintendent Donna Colosky noted: “Your strong approval of our EP and O and Capital Technology levies allows our schools to keep students as the priority. On behalf of our students, thank you for your continued dedication to their education.”
BIKE SKILLS AREA UPDATE
Earlier this month, members of American Ramp Company (ARC) revealed their initial conceptual design for the future Bike Skills Area (BSA) at Deane’s Children’s Park on Mercer Island.
Maddie Ferson, ARC’s West Coast action sports development specialist, led the presentation at the Dec. 1 Parks and Recreation Commission online meeting and said the company based the design on the city-provided parameters and community feedback culled from a November survey and open house.
A second community survey focused on the contractor’s proposed conceptual design is currently underway and will conclude on Dec. 31. Residents can take the survey at, https://letstalk.mercergov.org/bike-skills-area-design/survey_tools/bsa-concept-design-survey.
ARC came on board the project after city council appropriated $75,000 from the Capital Improvement Fund balance in July to begin community engagement and commence 30% design, which is anticipated by early February 2023. In the spring, the design is expected to be developed with construction going out to bid; in late spring, construction is anticipated to commence.
On the conceptual design front, the first draft includes two downhill jump line options from the start hub for beginners and intermediate riders that feature wooden table top jumps, berm turns of the wooden and dirt variety and more. There was not enough space to include an advanced jump line.
“We really just tried to, within the space and based on the feedback, provide a bike park that every user in the community can come out, they can learn, they can challenge themselves,” Ferson said.
ARC has also included a bicycle playground geared toward users ages 2-12 that features a tunnel, low-to-the-ground wooden progressive bike ramp features and more.
“We want to minimize any risk with the kids’ playground, but also give them a challenging, safe course where they can develop those skills and have fun at the same time,” said Ferson, who noted that the entire design also includes access trails and return lines from the beginner and intermediate areas.
Additional feedback from the community and commissioners will guide upcoming revisions to the plan, which was designed to work environmentally with the surrounding trees and the existing site (which formerly housed Adventure Playground), Ferson added.