Mercer Island has approximately 15 miles of shoreline most of which is devoted to low density single family residences. It could be said that almost 100% of the developed shoreline of Mercer Island is devoted to water-dependent recreation, assuming that the waterfront residents find both active and passive enjoyment from their shoreline location. The remainder of the shoreline is set aside for public or semi-public water-related recreation except for a fraction which is utilized for bridge crossings and utilities. The latter, in some cases, is also available for public access to the water.
The City presently owns approximately 6,000 feet of shoreline which is developed as waterfront parks with facilities for swimming, fishing and car-top boat launching. Beaches at Luther Burbank Park and Groveland Beach Park are staffed with lifeguards during the summer season. Unguarded designated swimming areas also exist at Calkins Landing and Clarke Beach Park. Dock facilities that serve fishing and other activities are located at Luther Burbank Park and Proctor Landing, and seasonally at Clarke and Groveland Beaches. The City manages several summer camps for youth and adult with instruction on sailing and kayaking based at Luther Burbank Park.
Nineteen street ends of widths varying from 30’ to 75’ add an additional 600 lineal feet of shoreline to the public domain and provide the potential for considerable access to the water’s edge in all segments of the Island. Development of some street ends has been undertaken as a cooperative effort between the city and the adjacent neighborhoods. Some provide swimming access, others offer car-top launching access, others provide minimal access solely for passive enjoyment because of the limitation of size or topography, and lack of neighborhood interest and availability of funds. Three street ends were re-developed in 2003, which included eliminating bulkheads and enhancing near shore habitat.
There are two private waterfront clubs owning a combined 1,194 feet of frontage. They provide swimming, moorage, and boat launching facilities to a significant portion of the Island’s families.
Covenant Shores, a continuing care retirement community, owns approximately 650 feet of shoreline which serves as open space, swimming, picnicking, and moorage for its residential units. Numerous private neighborhood waterfront “parks,” with shared access for neighboring residences, exist along the shoreline.
Regarding waterfront recreation, The City of Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Plan, adopted in 2007, calls for Capital improvements at 2 waterfront facilities to enhance recreation opportunities. Shoreline restoration, swim beach enhancements and dock area improvements are anticipated at Luther Burbank Park, and improved boat launching and retrieval is anticipated with planned improvements at the Mercer Island Boat Launch. Future development of Luther Burbank Park is also subject to the Luther Burbank Master Plan.
Water-dependent recreational activities available to the public are to be encouraged and increased on the shoreline of Mercer Island where appropriate and consistent with the public interest.
(1) Provide additional public water-oriented recreation opportunities.
(2) Locate public recreational uses in shoreline areas that can support those uses without risks to human health, safety, and/or security, while minimizing effects on shoreline functions, private property rights, and/or neighboring uses.
(3) Priority should be given to recreational development for access to and use of the water.