Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Mercer Island Urged To Re-Name Community Center

by Matt Rosenberg April 25th, 2011

SUMMARY: The Mercer Island City Council tonight will consider a proposal to change the name of the city’s Community Center at Mercer View to the Mercer Island Community and Event Center. A consultant hired by the city recommends the change, to make more clear to non-local potential renters the facility’s location and its availability for events such as weddings and bar mitzvahs. These play a large role in subsidizing low rental rates of the center for local residents.

BACKGROUND: A marketing firm was hired to advise the City of Mercer Island on a re-branding plan for its community center. The problem is that the center’s current name doesn’t clearly convey its convenient and attractive location on Mercer Island, nor does it make clear one of its key functions, as an events facility, available for rent. At its meeting April 25, the City Council will consider, and could approve a proposal to authorize the Parks and Recreation Department to give the community center a better name.

Parks and Recreation archive, Public Data Ferret

KEY LINK: Agenda Bill 4626, Re-branding the Community Center At Mercer View, Mercer Island City Council, April 25, 2011

KEY FINDINGS:

  • Mercer Island’s municipal community center – named the Community Center at Mercer View – gets 75 percent of all room rental revenue from non-local and frequently one-time rentals, which are often for major events such as weddings and bar mitzvahs.
  • The premium rates charged to non-local renters help subsidize lower charges for local residents who use the community center for their own special events as well as for parks program registration; city, pre-school and senior events; display and sales of art; as an information center; and for unstructured social activities.
  • But the facility can be challenging to market to off-island renters, because its name does not make clear its location on the island, or accent the key function it serves as a location for special events. OnMerit Marketing, the consulting firm hired by the city, recommends a new name of Mercer Island Community and Event Center.
  • The Mercer Island name connotes quality and clearly conveys location, while “ëvent” defines a key function missing in the old name. The new name for the center, reflected on the site’s Web pages, would draw more and stickier Web traffic from related keyword searches by potential renters.
  • The city will be positioned to increase revenues from off-island renters without increasing staff hours devoted to marketing the facility, and expects as a result to be able to avoid raising fees for local renters of the center.

Matt Rosenberg is founder and editor of Public Data Ferret, a project of the non-profit Public Eye Northwest.

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