Waterfront park moves ahead, but neighbors unhappy

A rendition of Meydenbauer Bay Waterfront Park that resembles the alternative recommended by the Meydenbauer Bay steering committee.  - Image courtesy of city of Bellevue
A rendition of Meydenbauer Bay Waterfront Park that resembles the alternative recommended by the Meydenbauer Bay steering committee.
— image credit: Image courtesy of city of Bellevue

A Bellevue steering committee has given its stamp of approval to a proposed waterfront park with elements that are unpopular among residents of the area.

The park would be located along the north side of Meydenbauer Bay, on a tract of land that the city of Bellevue spent over 50 years and $43 million dollars to acquire.

Most of the criticism has been directed at plans for closing 100th Avenue Northeast south of Main Street, eliminating moorage at the marina, allowing vendors in the park, and constructing an elevated walkway that reaches the shoreline.

Those changes now appear likely after the Meydenbauer Bay steering committee reached a consensus on plans that support the ideas.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Pam Ebsworth, who lives on Meydenbauer Bay Southeast. “I think the most amazing thing is that public opinion has been so unanimous about (these issues).”

The idea behind closing 100th Avenue is that it could serve as part of a grand entrance to the park. But it would also take away a shortcut that drivers use to avoid traffic congestion on Main Street.

The city is making plans to alleviate traffic congestion in that area by widening Northeast Second Street.

Concerns about the proposed elevated walkway relate to its size and appearance. The city is looking for a raised platform that provides sweeping views of the bay. But Ebsworth says the structure would be an eyesore next to her condo.

“My view is going to be blocked by this hideous structure,” she said.

Betina Finley, a member of the Meydenbauer Bay steering committee that agreed to the concept, said she felt comfortable supporting the elevated walkway because it fit with the approved planning principles for the park.

“It meets the criteria that we were given,” she said. “It keeps a visual presence so people can walk out and immediately see the bay.”

The steering committee also agreed to support commercial uses in the park. Bellevue planning manager Mike Bergstrom said the city would only allow portable vendor carts that sell food and non-alcoholic beverages.

“It’s like what you see at the Bellevue Arts Fair,” he said.

Finley, who is a candidate for City Council, said she opposed allowing any type of commercial uses.

“I was in the minority (with the steering committee) on that one,” she said.

The city is required to add 14 transient-boat slips to Meydenbauer Bay as a condition for state funding it will receive for the park project.

The steering committee’s plan would replace two existing piers with a floating boardwalk that gives visitors a place to dock. The overall result would be a net loss of 40 to 48 spaces.

Among the less-contentious plans recommended for the park are proposals to expand the swimming area at Clyde Beach Park and partially uncover an underground stream.

The Bellevue City Council is expected to make a decision on a final master plan for the new waterfront park in December. Ebsworth says she and her neighbors will continue to fight for their interests.

“We’re certainly not giving up,” she said.

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