On Jan. 22, a “kickoff” meeting for Bellevue’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP) was hosted at the Stevenson Elementary Cultural Center.
This year, the Crossroads and Wilburton areas will see impacts from the NEP.
The program involves the city setting aside $5 million to be distributed across several designated Bellevue neighborhoods. The funds are then used explicitly for community-brainstormed (and community-approved), city-funded capital projects.
At the meeting, residents of the Crossroads neighborhood learned more about what the program entails and offered questions and feedback to Bellevue representatives who attended.
The program moves through 16 neighborhoods over the course of seven years (2015-2022), with two areas focused on for each of those years, according to the city’s website.
“Thinking about the types of programs or projects you might want to do, think in terms of safety, recreation,” program coordinator Theresa Cuthill said of brainstorming. “Is there some bicycle access, pedestrian access? Is there a gathering space that you might want to have coming to your neighborhood area here, something that might bring community identity to your neighborhood? Those are kind of the projects for the opportunity areas to think about with how you might want to submit your ideas for how to spend this money.”
Typical projects include enhanced street lighting, flashing-crosswalk installation, landscaping improvements and others.
The program was initially launched in 1988, put on hiatus in 2008 due to the recession, and then relaunched in 2015.
The budget for the program is determined based on how many households comprise a particular neighborhood.
The last time the NEP was in the Crossroads area was about a decade ago, and those efforts resulted in landscaping and sidewalk improvements. For 2020, $439,000 will be available to the neighborhood.
Ideas can be submitted to the city until March 4, either through the NEP Project Request Form that Crossroads residents recently received in the mail or through its online version (https://bit.ly/30WWr2H). There isn’t a limit to how many requests can be submitted, but they have to be sent in before the March deadline.
The city subsequently scopes the project ideas from March through May and then will host a public open house in June revealing which projects will make it onto a voting ballot.
Ideas are selected based on public benefit, maintainability, implementation factors, feasibility, consistency and affordability, according to the city.
In June through July, the city will be taking in ballots.
“The difference between the project ideas submission — which we have via mail or online, and anybody can submit as many projects idea as you want, and even if you’re not in the area, if you want to submit an idea, you can do that — [is that] voting is limited to residents of the Crossroads neighborhood area only,” Cuthill said.
She added that only one ballot, which designates a home’s top three project choices, can be submitted by mail per household.
Project announcements will eventually be sent through a letter in September. According to Cuthill, it will come with an evaluation form where residents can share what they thought of the process.
The NEP is supported by the city’s community development, parks, transportation and utilities departments. As of January 2020, there are 15 NEP projects in the works in six Bellevue neighborhoods.
For more information about the Neighborhood Enhancement Program, go to the city of Bellevue’s website (https://bit.ly/36nqrWK).