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News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Council Roundup: New fire station downtown?

Also, staying with county for animal control services

As the residential population downtown continues to grow, so does the need for a new fire station there. At the same time, the city has long considered siting a community center at Ashwood Park, adjacent to the Bellevue Regional Library.

The City Council on Monday looked into the possibility of locating both a fire station and community center in one building at Ashwood Park. They leaned away from the idea, as councilmembers argued for more consideration of other locations for a fire station.

Ashwood Park is about two acres of lawn, including a small baseball diamond, with a parking lot, between Northeast 10th and 12th streets. Although undersized for official use, it is used informally for soccer, baseball and other activities.

In 1986 the city and the King County Library System acquired what had previously been part of the Ashwood Elementary School property. In 1990 they agreed on plans for the library, a community center, public plazas and a park there. The library and plazas have been built, but not the community center.

City staff has been looking for possible sites for a new downtown fire station since 2002, when it was projected that a significant increase in the residential population, in new high-rises at the city's core, would necessitate quicker response than possible from Station 1, at 766 Bellevue Way. An appropriate city-owned site would reduce the projected cost of a new station by an estimated $3 million. 

While the city has considered development of a downtown fire station over the years, the project stalled due to the economic downturn. Fire Chief Mike Eisner noted that the call volume downtown increased by just 8 percent from 2007 to 2011, so the need is not urgent.

Eisner and Parks & Community Services Director Patrick Foran discussed whether a combined facility merited study. Such a building could house a fire station on the first floor and a community center on the second, above underground parking, on the north side of the park, leaving most of the field open.

Several councilmembers argued against locating a fire station at the park, noting concerns about potential impacts from noise and flashing lights on nearby residences. They asked staff to continue looking for downtown sites for a station.

Regarding a community center at Ashwood Park, councilmembers said that resources to update the park's master plan could be included in the next budget.

Feedback: Mike Eisner, Fire Chief, 425-452-6895 or meisner@bellevuewa.gov; Patrick Foran, Parks & Community Services Director, 425-452-5377 or pforan@bellevuewa.gov

Staying with county for animal services .... for now
The council decided to maintain the status quo regarding animal control, voting to sign a three-year agreement for King County to continue providing those services.

The agreement with the county will include up to 25 cities and King County, and will cost Bellevue an estimated $225,000 over three years.

Over the past several months, councilmembers discussed forming a "subregional" organization with other Eastside cities that could provide animal control services more cheaply. But on Monday they decided against starting a new line of business at this time.

The council asked staff to formulate a subregional option for council review by June 2014, at least 18 months before the new contract with the county is set to expire.

Feedback: Sheida Sahandy, City Manager's Office, 425-452-6168 or ssahandy@bellevuewa.gov

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