Comprehensive Plan Amendment Update

Dear Neighbor,

Thank you for engaging with us over the last several weeks as we continue the dialogue and process around our organizations’ Comprehensive Plan Amendment with the City of Mercer Island. Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation and the Stroum Jewish Community Center of Greater Seattle have served the community from our Mercer Island locations since just around 1970. The French American School of Puget Sound moved to Mercer Island in 1999. Together we serve thousands of people at all phases of life, and value the deep relationships we form with those affiliated with our organizations and our broader community.

As you know, our three organizations have worked in close partnership over the years to optimize the space we have on Mercer Island to meet our needs. As we look to the future, our much-loved and well-used facilities are aging, which has financial, operational and maintenance impacts for each of our non-profit organizations. We’ve realized we need to think about a long-term plan that addresses these challenges and allows us to plan for the future while continuing to serve our community with the mission, excellence and heart for which we are known.

As such, we continue to pursue a Comprehensive Plan Amendment and rezone to unify the zoning under our respective properties in a way that lets us look creatively and responsibly toward the future. Our goal is to optimize our shared properties in a manner consistent with the programs and services we deliver, while continuing to be responsible citizens and neighbors in addressing key requirements of modern development.

At our first community open house events in July, and through the recent Planning Commission process, we’ve heard several key topics communicated from neighbors close to our sites. Those topics include: concerns about intersection safety, current/increased traffic and school-time traffic, potential of larger-scale event impacts on parking, questions about building size, the desire for green buffers between the campus and neighbors’ homes, concerns about noise and possible lighting on ball fields at night, the visual appearance of a possible security fence, and overall neighborhood walkability.

We would like to invite you to join us for a continued discussion with our organizations and our architects to discuss these issues (and any others) in greater detail, as well as share an update on the process and our current thinking around project vision and approach.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
10:00 AM OR 5:30 PM
Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 East Mercer Way, Mercer Island, WA 98040

If you cannot attend and would like to give your input, or for more information, feel free to contact us at, and/or

We hope you can join us for these next discussions and look forward to continuing to discuss these topics and more as a community.


Laura Mousseau
Board President, FASPS
Zane Brown
Board President, Herzl-Ner Tamid
Liz Friedman
Board President, SJCC
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SJCC Fall Newsletter and Arts + Ideas Season Brochure

Welcome to fall 2018 at the J! Our fall newsletter will arrive in homes soon, but it’s full of such great news, we want to share it with you before it’s even printed. 

LOOK INSIDE: we’ve included the complete lineup for our upcoming 2018/2019 Arts + Ideas season, full of music, theater, comedy, authors, and chefs. It’s down this page just a bit, under the newsletter. 

Keep an eye on your mailbox for your copy coming soon. In the meantime, enjoy!


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WRITE NOW to support SJCC redevelopment

As a resident of Mercer Island and a friend of the Stroum Jewish Community Center, we’re asking you for your help today—to write a quick email, post, or letter to the City of Mercer Island that will help us make the SJCC an even more amazing facility and service provider. Here are the details.

We are in the very early stages of planning the redevelopment of the SJCC. We are fortunate that at this point, we believe we have sufficient land to achieve the SJCC’s goals. That said, like other similar organizations on Mercer Island, much of the SJCC’s land is currently zoned as residential property, as there is no appropriate zone designation for these types of organizations. So while this is actually quite common for facilities like ours on Mercer Island, it makes the redevelopment process more challenging, as it imposes design regulations consistent with single-family homes, not broad use community centers.

For this reason, we’ve submitted a request for the City of Mercer Island to do something called a Comprehensive Plan Amendment, which would add a new zone type to Mercer Island’s building code, and we need your support and that of the community to encourage the Planning Commission to recommend the new code designation to the City Council.

Here is more information on why we need support and then following that is an example of an email, post, or letter you could send to the Planning Commission and/or City Council by Tuesday, September 4, 2018.

Here’s a brief outline of the three-phased process. Phase I is the proposal for a Comprehensive Plan Amendment that establishes a City policy to establish a “Private Community Facilities” land use designation in the Comprehensive Plan. Phase I does not authorize any particular development. Phase II includes the adoption of the development regulations, and Phase III is then the application of those regulations to anything the SJCC (or any property) designs. We are at Phase I, simply requesting the City to establish a new zone called a “Private Community Facilities” zone. A description of this zone designation can be found on page 7 of the document posted here. The key reasons we’re seeking this new zone designation are the following:

  1. Community engagement in the design process—the process, by definition, would include community involvement throughout the process.
  2. The opportunity for Comprehensive Master Planning—as we look at our site, Herzl-Ner Tamid’s land and the property to our west, owned by the French American School of Puget Sound, we realize that all three sites need refurbishing, updating, and other site improvements soon. Our ability to plan together for traffic and pedestrian safety, efficiency, wise land use, shared parking, landscape design, etc. would help all of us.
  3. Residential land use codes, although they allow uses such as ours, do not provide the ability to develop our property in a way that best addresses our needs or those of the surrounding community. This new land use designation will allow much better design, coordination, and community participation in the process.


Hopefully that is sufficient background, and we welcome questions directly from you at

Now, here’s where you can help. Please do at least one of the following: WRITE/POST/EMAIL your support of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment. Here’s some language you can use and please personalize it as you see fit.

SUBJECT: Please support Comprehensive Plan Amendment 8

Hello, my name is ____________. I have lived on Mercer Island for [XX] years and am writing to request your support of Comprehensive Plan Amendment 8. I believe this Amendment will allow for wiser, more comprehensive design and development, helping the Stroum Jewish Community Center engage the community in its redesign and prioritize concerns related to traffic management, lighting, and landscape design to enhance the neighborhood. The SJCC is a long-standing community asset on Mercer Island and always works to serve the community’s best interest. Thank you for your consideration.

[Your Name]

Please email this note to:

Please also post your note here.

Stay tuned for information on upcoming community meetings in September and October. Thank you for always supporting the Stroum Jewish Community Center and for helping us be great neighbors.

Liz Friedman
SJCC Board of Directors President

Amy Lavin
SJCC Chief Executive Officer

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Campus Planning

In early 2017, discussions began with various organizations about the idea of creating a campus south of Interstate 90 to house more than just the SJCC. Recently, a working team with representatives from those organizations and community leaders has been assembled to explore the possibilities.

In the near term, we are also working with the city of Mercer Island to explore how this campus might look and function to best serve our neighborhood community. This is the very beginning of a long and exciting process. Along the way, you will have opportunities to provide input and ideas. We will prioritize outreach to our constituents, communities, and neighbors as this plan progresses, and we look forward to bringing you into the conversation as we have more information to share and discuss.

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