What I Love About Bellevue

Bellevue Downtown Park canal 8-2017I moved to Bellevue 30 years ago and have lived downtown for the past ten years. I love living here and one of the things I love most are the beautiful and diverse parks throughout the city. I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance of ten parks which I visit frequently with my two pups. Did you know . . .

  • Bellevue has 2,700 acres of parks and open space with 80+ miles of multi-use trails
  • 45 parks have playgrounds
  • 6 waterfront parks have seasonal lifeguards
  • 17 parks have reservable picnic areas
  • 16 have tennis courts and six have pickleball courts (3 indoor and 3 outdoor)
  • Bellevue has an aquatic center, a tennis center and two golf courses (Bellevue Golf Course and the Crossroads Par 3 golf course)
  • Kelsey Creek Farm is home to ponies, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs and more

There are nearly 100 city maintained parks. The Dowtown Park, the city’s crown jewel, recently reopened after a one year closure for a major upgrade. The park is a 21 acre oasis in the heart of downtown Bellevue offering views of Mt. Rainier and the downtown skyline. A 1/2 mile groomed promenade circles a canal which is bordered by trees and dozens of benches and a 240’waterfall. The expanded Inspiration Playground provides innovative play space for children of all ages and abilities plus a fun water play space which was very popular this summer.

Nearly every community throughout the city has walk-able access to at least one park and many of the downtown office buildings have intimate public courtyards that offer a quiet respite in the city. I appreciate the time, care and maintenance city employees put into keeping our parks groomed, clean and planted with seasonal landscaping. Parks are a huge asset and contribute to the livability of a city and our local parks are a big part of what makes Bellevue s special place to live.

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Downtown Park Celebration

Downtown Park fountain 6-2015Today is the grand opening celebration for Bellevue’s Downtown Park. Closed for the past year to complete a major renovation, the park will open just in time for the July 4th celebration and fireworks.

For nearly 30 years the popular park has existed with an incomplete circular promenade and canal. During the last year work has been completed to create a grand entryway, water feature and terraced seating at the south end of the park, enhanced lighting and landscaping throughout the park and a new Inspiration Playground designed for children of all ages and abilities which was made possible through a partnership with the Rotary Club of Bellevue.

Events include a ribbon-cutting with city officials, live music, including the Seahawks Blue Thunder band, food trucks and more. Free parking is available at Bellevue High School with shuttle service to and from the park.

Its going to be a beautiful afternoon. Get out and enjoy the park.

Bellevue Downtown Park Expansion

Downtown Park Intersection Closure

photo courtesy City of Bellevue

The “Complete the Circle” project at the Downtown Park is underway with work scheduled to be completed in time for this year’s Fourth of July celebration. The expansion includes completion of the last section of the circular canal and tree lined promenade, creating a new entry and water feature at the south end of the park, upgrading the playground to create a universally accessible Inspiration Playground, adding landscaping and terraced seating and enlarging the parking lot on 100th Avenue NE.

Construction of the park’s new south entry and pedestrian crossing caused the closure of the intersection at NE First Street and 102nd Avenue NE this week. The intersection is expected to open again mid-to-late April.

The Downtown Park is a 21 acre oasis in the heart of the city and the centerpiece of the Bellevue Parks System. There’s something for everyone . . . a half mile level tree-lined promenade, canal, waterfall and reflecting pond, a ten acre lawn area, playground, picnic areas and formal gardens . . . all framed by views of Bellevue’s skyline and Mt. Rainier. It will be exciting to see the improvements and have the park open again this summer.

A New Downtown Fire Station

fire-engine-sign

Flickr/Andrew Siguenza

As downtown Bellevue grows, so does the need for expanded life, fire and property emergency response. The Bellevue Fire Department, after completing an extensive study to examine how to meet the city’s current and future needs, has proposed construction of a new Fire Station 10. The City Council has approved funds for property acquisition for Fire Station 10 in the 2015-2021 Capital Investment Program. The proposed site for the new station is on the west side of 112th Avenue NE and NE 12th Street, just north of McCormick Park. The 2.82 acre site will not affect McCormick Park.

Downtown’s residential population is expected to increase to 19,000 by 2030 and the city’s employment base is expected to grow to 70,000+ by 2030. The Fire Department’s goal is to reduce the target travel time to the increasing number of high-rise residential and commercial buildings and ensure quick response times for the nearby neighborhoods of Northtowne, Bel-Red, Northwest and West Bellevue and Wilburton.

Construction of Fire Station 10 is scheduled for 2019 and will take approximately 18 months with an occupancy date in 2021. For more information about Fire Station 10 visit the City of Bellevue’s website at www.ci.bellevue.wa.us.

The Upside to Pokemon Go

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flickr/Nuwandalice

For the past several weeks Pokemon Go has brought thousands of people outdoors to search for Pikachu, Ash, Psyduck and Mew, to name a few. Dozens of people are gathering in public places, discovering buildings, parks and artwork they never knew existed before, talking to neighbors they hadn’t met before and maybe shedding a few pounds in the process! Granted, with hundreds of people swarming the Downtown Park, the craze has created some complaints about late night noise, but overall the civic engagement that has occurred has brought people outside on to the sidewalks to explore their city. While I haven’t yet joined the Pokemon Go community, players I’ve talked to have said they’ve learned more about the city’s parks, artwork and street-scape in the last few weeks than they knew before, even if they’ve lived here for years.

The increase in civic engagement is a plus  –  more people out on the sidewalks is a good thing, for safety, vibrancy and economic activity, bringing people in to restaurants and coffee shops. Some cities, capitalizing on the craze, are promoting the locations of their PokeStops to bring people outdoors. Remember . . . watch where you’re walking and don’t drive and Pokemon. Its easier (and safer) to spot Pokemon while riding the bus.

Bellevue Downtown Park Update

dtp_inspiration_playground_concept_7-19-12

Construction is scheduled to start today at the Downtown Park to complete the canal and promenade circle and expand the playground. Completion is projected for June 2017. During construction the southern half of the Downtown Park will be closed to public access.  The existing southeast parking lot will be accessible for limited use until the new 100th Avenue NE lot is finished.  The parking lot along 100th Avenue NE will be temporarily closed to public access.  During construction there will be intermittent closures of the northern half of the Downtown Park as improvements to the lighting and promenade are performed.

The city, in partnership with the Bellevue Rotary Club, is expanding the playground to include an innovative play space where kids of all ages and abilities can play and explore at their own pace. Dedicated to fun, imagination and learning, it will be a universally-accessible play experience – a truly Inspiration(al) Playground.