(Ed. Note: This letter was addressed to members of the Mercer Island City Council and Planning Commission and shared with Mercer Island Patch.)
Dear City Council Members and Planning Commission Members,
Mercer Island is a small city and because of its restriction to the island it will never be a large city. However, in the 12 years that I have lived here there have been huge changes to the physical structure of the downtown, with high rise buildings replacing one and two story structures. The watercourse that runs through downtown is the most polluted on the island. Yet, I do not see any plan to mitigate storm water runoff from downtown.
It is much easier to plan for and implement storm water flow reduction before buildings are built rather than try to retrofit years later. In European cities and in American cities, green solutions to storm water runoff and pollution are much cheaper to build than alternative gray structures.
With much downtown construction yet to come, Mercer Island should require green storm water solutions for all new buildings in the downtown area and anyplace large buildings are constructed on the island, including our schools.
Urban forests help reduce storm water runoff yet our tree ordinances only apply to trees in critical areas. Large trees provide more ecological services, per the Seattle Times, than small tress, yet we allow them to be cut down by homeowners without restriction, except in critical areas.
I want to see Mercer Island better plan for our urban forest and storm water runoff. There is a good article (click here to read it) on case studies of other how cities, albeit much larger, are planning for urban forests and managing storm water at AmericanForests.org.
Thanks you for listening,