Bellevue Council’s disregard for public outreach in Fire Station 10 process | Letter

The proposed Fire Station 10 site selection process was obviously flawed for several reasons and the Bellevue City Council should allow the selection report to be reviewed prior to making a final decision. Issues include environmental, traffic, ignorance about bridges and a profound disregard for community outreach.

  • Thursday, October 13, 2016 4:22pm
  • Opinion

Photo courtesy of city of Bellevue

The proposed Fire Station 10 site selection process was obviously flawed for several reasons and the Bellevue City Council should allow the selection report to be reviewed prior to making a final decision. Issues include environmental, traffic, ignorance about bridges and a profound disregard for community outreach.

Is the council aware that the site is a wetland? What environmental studies have been performed on this site? The water that drains from this location is a feeder of the base flow for the lower reaches of Sturtevant Creek. Paving the wetland will increase storm runoff peaks and reduce the base flow in the creek.

It makes no sense whatsoever that no traffic impact study was performed before the site selection decision. The traffic routinely backs up along 112th from Northeast 12th to Northeast 15th Street. Also, 112th Avenue Northeast is often gridlocked from Hidden Valley to Northeast 8th Street anytime southbound I-405 is backed up. Access in and out of the proposed station location would be severely limited at various times during the day. In addition, with the blood bank being replaced by a 27 story building on 112th, the situation will only get worse.

What is the plan for exiting the station when you cannot clear the intersection of traffic? If you block off the street for the fire trucks, then that will make traffic worse. If 112th is striped “Do Not Block Fire Station Entrance,” the traffic operations for the signal at Northeast 12th will break down and significantly increase traffic backups on 112th.

If you do not stripe the entrance, the fire trucks will be blocked inside the station because of the existing gridlock on 112th. This is particularly true during the peak times for calls for emergency services. Already, traffic is so heavy that drivers heading southbound from the commons across from the proposed station need to head north on 112th and U-turn in the driveways on 14th and 15th streets. We want to see your traffic studies and find out if they considered these impacts to overall traffic level of service (LOS) and fire station operations.

We understand the need to put the facility along the perimeter of Downtown. John Chelminiak, how would you feel if the chosen location was the Southeast corner of View Crest? That is on the perimeter. They could buy six lots and put the station there. How would you like to have a large industrial building in your neighborhood?

There is also a great site adjacent to City Hall on 112th that is on the perimeter. Kevin Wallace would surely be happy to sell his property for the good of the city. This is the location shown on Figure 5.2 of the Fire Department Facilities Master Plan and is consistent with the proposed budget.

Or perhaps when you rezone downtown to allow Mr. Wallace to build a 300-foot-tall building, he will take the proceeds from the increase in his property value to reimburse the people whose property has lost value because of the station. This smells like the kind of deals that were made on the council in the 1970s.

As for being on the perimeter, 116th Avenue Northeast has a large number of vacant or under-developed properties that could be used. We heard that the fire department is concerned about the bridges being damaged in an earthquake and they wouldn’t be able to get to Downtown. Who gave you that advice? I would like to personally peer review their structural analysis. You will soon have six modern bridges cross I-405, don’t tell me they will fail; I worked on four of them.

If you are so concerned about the bridges, you should do something about it. How are you going to get to the hospitals if the bridges are out? When you extend Northeast 6th Street and WSDOT replaces the Main Street bridge, there will be only one less bridge across I-405 as you have arterials downtown. Using the bridges as an excuse for not putting the station on 116th is a false criteria that should be thrown out.

But frankly, this is obviously about choosing the cheapest spot to put the station. Otherwise the council would have chosen the commons and added access to Northeast 12th directly from that lot to give more access redundancy for response time not hindered by the gridlock on 112th Avenue Northeast.

Since money drove the council’s decision (combined with faulty evaluations), they could save another $3 million and put the station on the corner of 12th and 112th. Why not? McCormick Park was a hard fought line in the sand to define the edge of our neighborhood residential district. A large industrial building breaks that bond with Northtowne Neighborhoods Association. There is no reason for McCormick Park if its whole purpose has been violated.

Take McCormick Park away and take away the legacy of Maria Cain, Georgia Zumdiek, my parents and many others that fought to represent the needs of the city’s neighborhoods.

John Stokes, John Chelminiak, Lynn Robinson and Vandana Slatter you were elected because you said you supported our neighborhoods. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You denigrate those who came before you. You foist this on Northtowne without even asking for our input. The city of Bellevue is only for the needs of Downtown and this fire station is only for the needs of Downtown. Put the station on a 116th Street commercial site or elsewhere in Downtown where it belongs.

We need to be able to review the detailed analysis and technical data for the comparison of 18 candidate sites relative to the six criteria that was used for the site selection. In an upside down world in which a developer thinks he’s making a sacrifice by making money, it appears that anything can be made to make sense.

Paul Brallier

Bellevue

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