Category Archives: Uncategorized

Disturbing Plans for The Mercer Island Library

Thanks to commenter Barbara Halliday, who let me know about a project to renovate our library and the response by a group of concerned citizens. Before I get into any specifics, why don’t you judge for yourself. Here’s the Library today:

MI_Library_Today

And this is the Library tomorrow?

MI_Library_annotated

Source: Presentation from public meeting on 1/7/2104. 

A few of the major differences:

  • The skylight is gone. Why would you ever take out a skylight?
  • There are many fewer books. Libraries serve many functions, but the serendipity of walking around and browsing books is an important one, especially for younger readers.
  • The Library may be closed for up to a year to complete the project.
  • The new design is marked by the loss of a feeling of warmth.

To that latter point, the response of the citizens’ group struck me: “The issue with furniture and finishes is not darker wood, but having a warm, and friendly home-like atmosphere, not a bright, very light atmosphere similar to airport terminals.”  

I moved here about 6 years ago now. I was– and am– pleased at what a comfortable and attractive library we have. It’s got great windows and nice spaces for sitting. It’s not the biggest library, but it’s got stacks of books, like a library should.

I agree with the citizens’ group that this overhaul is not only not necessary, it’s out of character and will leave us with a worse library. The group advocates that we meet current shortcomings, in particular Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, with a reconfiguration that stays in character with Mercer Island. It’s at least worth looking at.

Photos from Harvest Farmers’ Market

On Sunday the Mercer Island Farmers Market did its special pre-Thanksgiving holiday market. A beautiful day for it:
Mercer-Island-Farmers-Market

There were some new booths, including arts and crafts with nice gift ideas.
Arts-Crafts

And some good food. In addition to the pizza and the veggie quesadillas that they usually have, Skillet made an appearance:
Skillet-Mercer-Island-Farmers-Market
Want to make it out to another one? You’ll have to wait til spring. Follow the Mercer Island Farmers Market website or Facebook page. By the way, they are applying for beer and wine tasting license. Should be some great new vendors next year.

Yesterday’s Opening of the New Dragon at Island Crest Park

Yesterday was the ribbon-cutting on the new dragon at Deane Children’s park.
Dragon-1.jpg

Here’s the ribbon cutting:
Dargon-6.jpg

The old dragon was much-loved but 50 years old. The celebration included an interview with the artist, Kenton Pies, also the artist of the original dragon:
Kenton-Pies

The music lady Nancy Stewart was there with a new song for the occasion:
Music-lady

Lots of folks turned out, and the kids knew what to do at the playground.
Dargon-5.jpg

More on the project, including photos of building this dragon and the original dragon, on the Mercer Island Parks website.

Ski Swap at IMS today

It’s the annual ski swap and at 820 there’s already a line. It’s open at 830 til 230. Come get yur ski on!

image

On Our Ballot: City Council

The political signs are up along Island Crest, which can only mean one thing: election season. Here’s a guide to the City Council race. The other local positions are on the School Board, which we’ll get to in the coming weeks.
Signs-on-Island-Crest

As a reminder, in this blog we cover only local news and local races, or larger races that relate to Mercer Island.

So here goes:

Council Position No. 2: Dan Grausz or Kevin Scheid

Dan-Grausz Kevin-Scheid

Now this is an interesting one. Dan Grausz is a longtime veteran of the council. Kevin Scheid is a very involved resident (who celebrated his 38th anniversary at Island Crest Way and 40th on Friday). They both talk about I-90 tolling and a vibrant downtown as major issues. Both are against tolling and for, well, vibrancy in downtown. So what’s the difference?

I-90 Tolls

In I-90 tolling, it seems to be the level of compromise and negotiation. Kevin Scheid has a stark view: agree to no tolling whatsoever. Dan Grausz seems more in favor of negotiating as a way to fight the toll.

The Mercer Island Reported endorsed Grausz, saying “His opponent says that any sort of compromise regarding tolling is wrong. Yet, Mr. Grausz has demonstrated that he knows how and when to negotiate. He weighs what is best for Islanders in the face of change or circumstance that may or may not be welcome, but always inevitable.”

Downtown

On this issue the best I can tell is that Dan favors building a residential and retail community: “I do not want to see only professional offices in our buildings that turn our Town Center into an empty cavern at nights and on weekends.

Kevin wants office buildings that will pay more taxes (“Future development needs to contribute its fair share of infrastructure costs“). Their sites are all in political code though so I may be wrong.

Council Position No. 4: Tana Senn or… someone else

Tana-Senn
Tana Senn is running unopposed for the fourth position. Tana joined the City Council in 2012 and has since been elected by the King County Council to as the 41st District State Representative, replacing Marcie Maxwell after she moved on to state government, according to The Mercer Island Reporter.

Council Position No. 2: Rich Erwin or Benson Wong
Benson-Wong Rich-Erwin

Benson Wong is interesting. He’s got a long history of service on the Island, which counts for a lot. Like all the candidates, he’s against I-90 tolling, for a good downtown and great schools. But he actually points out some things he would do, like push for full implementation of the recommendations of the Sustainability Task Force and support the upcoming school bond. That’s refreshing.

Rich Erwin seems like a nice guy but it’s hard to figure out what he would actually support. Benson Wong seems the better candidate.

Next up is a review of the School Board candidates on the ballot in November. Watch this space…

 

 

 

Thanks and Good Luck, Kendall Watson

Patch is losing its editor today, which probably means no new posts from that blog. Kendall Watson has covered Mercer Island well for many years at Patch and before.
2013-10-15-Patch

It’s a shame. The failure of Patch was, in my view, a failure of AOL and not of the many excellent journalists who have been trying to cover their communities. AOL’s version of journalism was of great local profits, and by and large the journalists of Patch had a different vision– great local journalism.

There’s plenty to say about a small city like Mercer Island. Kendall covered high school sports and local stories thoroughly and well. I read his posts often. The problem is, nobody has figured out how to make money at it. Some of Seattle’s great local bloggers can make a go of it, but it’s a full time job and more. It’s a labor of love, and AOL’s not in the labor of love business. (Side note: if anyone can figure out what business AOL is in, please leave a comment. I’d love to know.) This blog is run by yours and generates absolutely no profit but also provides the flexibility to take a couple of years off if I need to.

End rant. Good bye and good luck Kendall, and thanks for your coverage of Mercer Island. Hope to see you around these parts soon.

Mercer Island Downtown

Seems that one of the new retail spots in the new building by Tully’s is going to be a pediatric dentistry. I like kids, and I like teeth, but this is one more shop in downtown that doesn’t lend itself to a fun, walking retail core. “While it’s a boost to the Town Center any time a vacant space is occupied, we don’t really need more doctors, dentists and real estate brokers occupying what should be prime spots for some creative retail stores,” says resident Bill Kratz.
New-retail-space

Mercer Island’s downtown keeps getting close to greatness. On the plus side, Freshy’s has a fish & chip window and nightly dinners. Moe’s pizza is new. The food trucks are coming.

But on the down side, developers keep favoring staid old business that bring good rent. The real problem here isn’t dentists– it’s banks and real estate offices. But when’s the last time you took a stroll downtown to window shop at HSBC?
banks-225-2 real-estate-offices-225
Map on left is banks. Map on right is real estate offices. Lots of both!

What if we could link together the little spots of wonderful– Bennett’s, Island Books & Stopsky’s, Terra Bella, Freshy’s. Instead they are each islands surrounded by boring but reliable banks and offices.
another-bank
Sigh. Another bank. Anyone want to apply for a loan? It’s a fun night out!

Deer on Mercer Island– Photo Evidence

Bank in 2008, I blogged about a deer sighting in Mercer Island. So far that post has 36 comments, with people contributing various sightings and theories on our deer. At the time I had no photos. But as of my run on Saturday, now I do.

Deer-cropped

This was on the trail right by the old Stevenson property (more on that later) off Island Crest Way, around 2 in the afternoon. Just in case you missed them:

Deer-obvious

Since I last blogged about the deer here, there’s been (for MI) a heated discussion of the deer and whether they are a problem. Patch covered them. A blog called the Northwest Sportsman did a kind of a rant on the subject, but it’s hard to figure out what side they came down on.

Conner Webster even uploaded a video of the deer, complete with pretty cool deer theme music that I assume was added later and did not appear with the deer. Click to go to vimeo to watch the video:

Deer-video

The Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife captures the pros & cons of our brown fuzzy neighbors: “Their aesthetic beauty is appreciated and admired, although their fondness for garden and landscape plants tries some peoples’ patience.”

How Does Mercer Island Commute?

Just saw an excellent post in the Seattle Bike Blog on how Seattle commutes. Which got me wondering how Mercer Island commutes.

I went to the Census American communities Survey, just released for 2012, and looked at Mercer Island versus Seattle, Bellevue and all of King County:

How-Mercer-Island-Commutes

In only a few minutes with the data a few things popped out:

1.Islanders drive more than the rest of King County.

2. Our mean commute is lower than Seattle, Bellevue or all of King County, probably because of how central the Island is.

3. Almost 10% of Islanders work from home, quite a bit higher than the rest of the county.

4. Islanders take public transportation at a much lower rate than the rest of the county. I think we’d take it more if we could get to the Park & Ride more easily or find parking there. These days, it’s parked up before 8 am, causing a stressful morning for anyone planning to get a spot.

My husband and I have tried many of these methods– driving alone, carpooling, the bus, and biking– at different times. Basically anything other than walking. One of the nice things about Mercer Island is you can get almost anywhere, fast.

I wonder how these numbers will change when the Express Lanes give way to Light Rail. One would expect a dramatic drop in driving alone and a rise in public transportation. We’ll see in about 10 years.

What Could Be Better Than a Food Truck Calendar? Nothing.

That’s right, nothing could be better than a food truck calendar. And that’s why I direct you to the Mercer Island Food Trucks Site.

Food trucks

Food Trucks are the answer to the limited restaurant choices on Mercer Island. They bring delicious and creative options. They make us feel like a hipper neighborhood than we really are. All of that is wonderful.

We have two people to thank for this delightful turn of events: Nancy Meade, owner of the new downtown shop Terra Bella, and Bill Kratz for letting me know.

This Friday, for Mercer Island homecoming, there will be 4 food trucks starting with My Chef Lynn at 11am, then at 3pm with Buns, Chopstix and Seattle Biscuit. Trucks will be on site until approximately 8pm.