Residents tour site of proposed waterfront park at Meydenbauer Bay

Bellevue planning officials on March 14 hosted a walking tour of a 10-acre waterfront park that the city has proposed for Meydenbauer Bay.

Members of the Meydenbauer Bay Neighbors Association – whose mailing list includes some 1,300 residents – showed up at the event, which drew around 30 participants overall.

“We’re 100 percent for a park, but we want it to be mutually agreeable for the city and for the people living in these neighborhoods,” said resident Anita Neil, who lives across the bay from the proposed park.

The city has already spent $43.6 million acquiring land for the park, which would include areas that are now Meydenbauer Beach Park, Bellevue Marina at Meydenbauer Bay, and multiple residential lots.

The Meydenbauer Neighbors group has taken issue with certain aspects of the city’s preliminary designs.

Among the proposals causing a stir these days are:

• A potential closure of 100th Avenue Northeast south of Main Street

• The proposed elimination of moorage at the Bellevue Marina

• Re-zoning of surrounding neighborhoods to add more housing and retail

• The possibility of commercial structures within the park

Closing off the end portion of 100th Avenue Northeast would strengthen the park’s visual presence and improve pedestrian access, according to the city. But it also takes away a route that many residents use to avoid traffic on Main Street.

Adding more density to surrounding neighborhoods would only compound the problem, says Pam Ebsworth, who owns a condo on 100th Avenue Northeast.

“We want to keep this road open,” she said. “It’ll be all the more necessary with the added congestion from a rezone.”

Ebsworth is also concerned about losing access to the main entrance of her condominium complex if the city closes 100th Avenue.

“If anyone wanted to sell their unit, the value is decreased substantially,” she said. “You wouldn’t be able to access the front door.”

Many residents also question the logic behind upzoning surrounding neighborhoods when the city has already exceeded its growth-management goals.

“There doesn’t seem to be a crying need for increased density outside the downtown area,” Neil said. “The city has a 30-year history of not doing that. It’s more than a tradition. It’s a promise to the neighborhoods.”

The Meydenbauer Neighbors association has also expressed concern that the park will resemble something along the lines of Coney Island rather than a peaceful open space.

The group opposes one city proposal that would put an elevated walkway, an elevator, and vending spaces in the park.

“We’re talking about major structures being built in what is supposed to be a quiet neighborhood park,” Ebsworth said.

“A park is a park,” said Bellevue resident Kevin Austin. “It’s not a place to buy hamburgers.”

Meydenbauer Bay marina poses another set of problems. The city has a total of 112 slips at the site, 59 of which could be eliminated with the park plan.

“The concept of not renting out slips is ridiculous,” Austin said. “It just doesn’t happen.

“All other cities are adding moorage, not taking it away.”

The city's steering committee will meet on March 19, 5-7 p.m. at Bellevue City Hall (450 110th Avenue Northeast) to discuss the park plan.

Joshua Adam Hicks can be reached at jhicks@bellevuenews.us or 425-453-4290.