Final Bellevue budget requests include Grand Connection and ballet support

As the Bellevue City Council prepares to approve its 2017-2018 budget, tweaking of the numbers continues.

At the Nov. 21 council meeting, city residents and staff brought up additional requests to consider in the final budget.

The 12 additional requests include two major ones under the council “priority” items, including a $150,000 one-time multi-cultural feasibility study and $200,000 a year for Eastside Pathways.

One of the largest requests was a $1 million to $1.5 million proposal from the council, which would hit up the capital investment program for “Grand Connection seed funding.”

The Grand Connection is an ambitious city project to connect greenbelts and walkways across the city from Meydenbauer Bay through Downtown and to the future Eastside Rail Corridor.

Deputy Mayor John Chelminiak filed the request for the funds to be added to the initial $2 million funding for the purpose of early implementation of the connection.

Funding could allow raised intersections along the Grand Connection as well as “tests of public space improvements and programming.”

Chelminiak also supported some Eastside Rail Corridor design funding, split into two $250,000 increments over the next two years. That funding, if council approves it to add to the budget, would allow for Bellevue to design some major key crossings of the corridor in the Wilburton section.

The corridor runs from Renton to Snohomish County, passing through Bellevue, Kirkland and Woodinville.

Another major funding request from the community is a $1.5 million proposal from the Housing Development Consortium to contribute to the housing trust fund.

That funding will help update A Regional Coalition for Housing’s parity goals, which Eastside cities base funding around. Citing dramatic rent increases and low housing supply, a group of housing organizations and other nonprofits asked the city to consider an increase in funding to help construct and maintain affordable housing on the Eastside.

Other last-minute budget requests include:

• $500,000 to support replacement of the Pacific Northwest Ballet after the previous location was slated to be torn down for Sound Transit light rail.

• $150,000 for a solid waste study in 2017.

• A variable amount for parental leave for city employees as part of a bolstered rewards package.

• $20,000 annually to restore five park restrooms ($4,000 per park) normally closed during winter. Those five parks are Chism Beach, Clyde Beach, Enatai Beach, Larsen Lake and Spiritridge Park.

• Up to $150,000 to identify water features options around the Guan Yin statue in Downtown Park.

• $50,000 one-time for funding a squash (racquet sport) program sponsored by Councilmember Conrad Lee.

• $50,000 one-time to support TechHire to improve diversity and inclusion in the technology sector, sponsored by Councilmembers Lee and Lynne Robinson.

The final budget will be approved in December.

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