|Aug 7, 2019 | Vol. 14 | No. 32
Help the City Keep an Eye on Parks
|You can help the City monitor proper park usage; click to submit anonymous tips
With limited staff present in our parks, community reporting of issues is crucial in helping keep Mercer Island parks pleasant for everyone. You can be a hero by reporting illegal or inappropriate activities in your parks directly to the Police Department (MIPD) by phone.
- For emergencies: dial 9-1-1
- For general incident reports, 24/7 dispatch, or police assistance: dial 425-577-5656
Parks and Recreation Department
is aware that certain user groups sometimes try to bend the rules, and even the law, as they enjoy the park, which in turn may create an unpleasant atmosphere for other park patrons. By reporting an issue to MIPD immediately, it allows the City to potentially respond while an incident is still underway.
A call to the numbers listed above can often produce immediate results and lets people know that unacceptable behaviors are not tolerated in parks. To submit an anonymous *
non-emergency* crime tip instead, call the voicemail number at: 206-275-7955. [Remember, emergency calls should go directly to 911]
If you'd prefer to submit a tip online,
. Finally, if you have general comments or concerns about Parks Dept operations, please reach out to
Interim Parks and Recreation Director Ryan.Daly@mercergov.org or 206-275-7870.
Cougar Sighting on Mercer Island
On Monday, August 5, the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) was alerted to a cougar prowling overnight in the vicinity of Pioneer Park, and it was observed clearly on security camera footage at approximately 6400 East Mercer Way before dawn (see photo). The State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are investigating, and spent several hours Tuesday night walking around and through Pioneer Park with a K9 tracker. The cougar was not seen or tracked.
Fish and Wildlife will continue their efforts throughout the week and members of the public with firsthand information or sightings are encouraged to contact WDFW Sergeant Kim Chandler at 425-775-1311 ext. 122 and MIPD 425-577-5656.
Fish and Wildlife officers are trained subject matter experts in this area. Sergeant Chandler is also available to help answer questions and concerns.
Signs have been posted at the entrances to, and throughout, Pioneer Park. The City will continue to share updates through various communication channels.
Also known as a mountain lion (Puma concolor), these large felines are typically solitary and very rarely seen in the wild. Cougars vary in color from reddish-brown to tawny (deerlike) to gray, with a black tip on their long tail.
Cougars are most active from dusk to dawn and can occasionally appear in areas of dense human habitation, though this is very uncommon on Mercer Island. Such appearances are almost always brief, with the animal moving along quickly in its search of a more suitable permanent home.
Cougar attacks on humans are extremely rare in Washington state, with only two known fatal incidents (1924 and 2018), and 19 other attacks over the past 100 years.
There are a number of practices to follow that can help prevent a conflict with cougars around your property - if possible, all neighbors should attempt to do the same.
If you do happen to have a close encounter with a cougar, the WDFW advises the following:
- Stop, pick up small children immediately, and don't run. Running and rapid movements may trigger an attack; at close range, a cougar's instinct is to chase.
- Face the cougar. Talk to it firmly while slowly backing away. Always leave the animal an escape route.
- Try to appear larger than the cougar. Get above it (e.g., step up onto a rock or stump). If wearing a jacket, hold it open to further increase your apparent size. If you are in a group, stand shoulder-to-shoulder to appear intimidating.
- Do not take your eyes off the cougar or turn your back. Do not crouch down or try to hide.
- Never approach the cougar, especially if it is near a kill or with kittens, and never offer it food.
- If the cougar does not flee, be more assertive, shout, wave your arms and throw anything you have available. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are not prey, but a potential danger.
- If the cougar attacks, fight back. Be aggressive and try to stay on your feet. Cougars have been driven away by people who have fought back using anything within reach. If you are aggressive enough, a cougar will flee, realizing it has made a mistake.
Sound Transit Access Grants
Earlier this year, the City submitted two applications for grants from Sound Transit's System Access Fund, which steers funding to projects that will make it easier for the public to use buses or trains, up to a maximum of $50 million total. These can include safe sidewalks, protected bike lanes, shared-use paths, bus transfer facilities, and new pickup and drop-off areas; vehicle parking is not eligible.
Through August 23, Sound Transit is gathering public input to help select the final grant recipients. So far, one of the City's proposals has received a "recommended" preliminary evaluation.
Mercer Island Station Gateway Plaza Design; ($271,500 requested)
This project will design a multimodal public plaza space and connection between the Mercer Island rail station and the proposed mixed-use commuter parking and performing arts center at the corner of SE 27th Street and 80th Avenue SE. Once constructed, the project will reduce visual and circulation barriers, provide universal access and wayfinding to the station, increase safety and comfort of transit users, and improve access to nearby recreational opportunities.
80th Avenue SE Sidewalk Improvements; ($1,000,000 requested)
The project reconstructs curb, sidewalk, curb ramps, and driveways, upgrades street lighting, replaces street trees, and improves pavement markings and signing on 80th Avenue SE. The project improves accessibility by removing obstacles at curb ramps, driveways, and along the sidewalk path due to root heave and other obstructions that impede clear passage. Streetlight upgrades improve nighttime visibility and create a safe space for use of the sidewalk. New signage and marking provide visual emphasis at street crossings and clear direction for users heading to the station.
Next week the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) will host two open houses on the newly released draft of VISION 2050. The open houses are scheduled for Monday, August 12 and Tuesday, August 13. VISION 2050 will be the region's plan to guide growth for the projected 1.8 million additional people and 1.2 million new jobs expected by 2050. The open houses will be an opportunity for the public to learn more about the draft plan and to provide comments directly to the PSRC.
Bellevue Open House
: Bellevue Library - 1111 110th Avenue NE, Bellevue 98004
When: Monday, August 12, 2019
Seattle Open House
Where: Seattle Union Station - 401 S Jackson Street, Seattle 98104
When: Tuesday, August 13, 2019
Each open house will include 2 sessions:
Afternoon Facilitated Workshop from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Hear a brief overview of VISION 2050 and join in small group facilitated discussions focused on key policy areas, with the opportunity to rotate to different groups.
Part 2: Evening Drop-In Open House from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Drop in to learn about VISION 2050 at your own pace. PSRC staff will give a brief presentation on the draft plan at 5:45 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. and will be available to answer questions.
If you can't make it next week, you can review the draft for VISION 2050 and comment online. The public comment period on the draft VISION 2050 will run through September 16, 2019.
In addition, the Mercer Island City Council and Planning Commission will hold a joint study session on August 20 to VISION 2050 and the City's approach to the larger regional growth planning effort.
Efficient Garden Watering
With the hot summer weather finally here, it's a very good time to make sure you're watering efficiently. In our region, water use typically doubles from May through September, mostly for lawns and gardens. Yet up to fifty percent of that water goes to waste due to runoff, over-watering, and simple evaporation.
Poor watering practices are also among the most common causes of plant problems: watering either too much or not enough produces weak plants that are susceptible to pests and diseases. Efficient irrigation can save this precious water for people, salmon and other wildlife; and using only what you need saves you a lot of money. Every drop counts.
Four central principles can help residents save water:
- Group plants according to their water needs and sun tolerance
- Build absorbent soil with compost and mulch
- Water lawns separately from other plants, or let grass go brown for the summer
- Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation on trees, shrubs, and planting beds (even a bucket with a small hole drilled in the bottom can serve as a simple solution)