A new neighborhood park in the Newport Hills area will likely open to the public next year, according to the city of Bellevue.
“We’re kind of anxious to move this forward,” said Glenn Kost, Bellevue’s planning and development manager at a Dec. 2 city council study session. He noted that if progress continues as planned, the park could be completed by November 2020.
The project’s inception dates back to December 2018, when the city council included $3 million in the 2019-25 Capital Investment Program Plan (CIP) to design and construct a new park at 11560 SE 60th St.
By then, work in the park had been gestating. In February 2010, the city purchased, with help from King County, the 4.79-acre Tyler property parcel (situated along Southeast 60th Street in Newport Hills) for a neighborhood park space. In 2011, the Newport Hills Community Club (NHCC) approved, with the assistance of the city, a Vision Plan for the Tyler property to make available off-leash and general park areas.
Bellevue next bought the adjacent Patterson and Brick properties. When joined with the Tyler properties, a 13.7-acre space was created. Though, as noted in meeting documents, development in the combined space has to be limited to between 3 and 3.2 acres, due in part to the wooded and sloping elements of the site. The wooded area of the land — which is part of the Patterson parcel — saw the construction of a soft-surface loop trail in 2015.
In May 2019, city staff, following the 2018 approval to move forward with the new park’s design and construction, started community outreach for the project, which concluded last month. With the intent to create a Preferred Park Plan for the site, three neighborhood meetings (the first hosted by the NHCC, and the others put on by the city of Bellevue) were held to get feedback.
According to Kost, some 3,100 flyers were mailed out to residents to promote the meetings. Advertisements were posted on NextDoor and the Parks and NHCC websites. Feedback from the meetings is based on comment cards, emails and an online survey.
At the first meeting (on May 21 and attended by 75 people), residents noted a particular interest in new park amenities and a more formalized off-leash area — something similar, according to meeting documents, to what was heard in 2011 and 2012. Following the response, city staff shared three alternative plans with residents at the July 23 meeting.
“They look, at first glance, fairly similar to each other,” Kost said during the Dec. 2 study session. “They reflect a very similar plan, the difference being alternative A would be the least developed and has the least amenities, B a few more, and C pretty robust in terms of the number of amenities — which reflects, almost to a T, the feedback we received from the community.”
Kost said residents showed the most preference for C, and those who voted for a combination of plans wanted to basically merge alternatives B and C.
“The greater number of amenities, the more popular it became,” Kost said.
The city’s park board also supported alternative C, though it wanted the off-leash area to be reduced to about the same size as the general use area as outlined in the prospective designs.
The board ultimately recommended C. Planned features include a picnic shelter and lawn area, a loop trail system, an “adventure-themed” play area, and a fenced off-leash area with a shelter. Design, permitting and environmental review are set to progress through the spring of 2020. A public bid will likely come late that season as well, with construction completed by November 2020.
The council had some questions about the environmental review, the details of the proposed off-leash area, the implementation process and ADA accessibility. Councilmembers also expressed their gratitude to Kost not just for the fact that Kost is retiring from the position after 18 years with the city but also for the speed with which the progress made throughout the year.
Councilmember Lynne Robinson voiced an appreciation for what the park will provide to the community.
“I haven’t seen anything in Bellevue like it, and I’m looking forward to being there in person,” Robinson said.
For the full conversation about the park, watch the study session’s recording online (https://bit.ly/2RKcRZU). For more details about the park’s background and planning, go to the meeting agenda item (https://bit.ly/34eFtwE).
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was edited to correct the address of the potential park.