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News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Council Roundup: Neighborhood improvement program celebrated

Also, City Hall cited for energy efficiency

Children gather at a playground built as an NEP project.The City Council joined residents and staff Monday night in acknowledging the 20-year success of Bellevue's Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP).

Established in 1988, NEP was designed to engage residents in the process of identifying and prioritizing neighborhood improvement projects. Program goals have remained constant over the past two decades: to maintain and improve neighborhood safety and quality of life; to develop and coordinate services that respond to needs and issues identified by the community; to inform and empower citizens to be effective participants in community affairs; and to promote community partnerships.

Each year the city allocates $1.286 million to build projects selected by the community. In the past 20 years, the program has constructed 400 neighborhood improvements, including more than 90 sidewalks and walkways connecting neighborhoods to schools, parks and other destinations.

Mayor Grant Degginger called the program "a great success story" that "just gets better every year."

"We've delivered so many great projects in the neighborhoods," Degginger said, "and we've had tremendous community involvement -- it's just a winner all the way around."

Councilman Don Davidson noted that he was on the City Council when NEP was launched. 

"It's delightful to see some 20 years later how policies do work out," Davidson said.

The City Council's comments followed the airing of a video featuring a tour of NEP projects with commentary by four neighborhood leaders. Barbara Sauerbrey, president of the Woodridge Community Association thanked the Council, noting that "all neighborhoods have really benefited from the program."

Ron Griffin of Wilburton called NEP, "an opportunity for the community to come together, pick projects and see them accomplished in a relatively short time."

The beauty of NEP, said Griffin, is that, "we see something being done. We see the community members working together. And we see the community working with the city. It's a nice synergy."

Throughout its history, NEP has been recognized as a highly collaborative program. The Planning & Community Development's Neighborhood Outreach group provides overall program coordination and management. Several city departments and programs are involved in responding to citizen requests, and the majority of neighborhood projects are managed by staff from the Transportation and the Parks & Community Services departments.

NEP also coordinates with other programs to maximize the impact of neighborhood improvements. Such programs as the Pedestrian Access Improvement Program frequently contribute both resources and funds to enhance NEP projects. The most recent addition to this coordination effort is the newly established "NeighborWoods" volunteer tree-planting program.

Since 1988 and the first NEP project -- enhancing the Woodridge neighborhood entrance -- the program has built a wide range of projects identified by residents. While sidewalks and walkways have accounted for nearly a quarter of all improvements, other projects have included: streetlights, neighborhood entries, trails, landscaping, mini parks and a wide range of park improvements, playgrounds, traffic calming projects, forest and wetland enhancements, sports field improvements, skate parks, picnic shelters, path and trail bridges, reforestation, habitat enhancements, and many more.

In the program's last three-year cycle, NEP:

  • Communicated with nearly 50,000 households;
  • Received 1,300 individual project requests;
  • Directly interacted with more than 8,000 voting households; and
  • Spent $3.15 million to build projects requested and selected by residents.

Feedback: Ron Matthew, NEP coordinator, 425-452-4075 or rmatthew@bellevuewa.gov

City Hall cited for energy efficiency
Bellevue's City Hall is the only city hall in Washington and one of just seven nationwide to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's prestigious Energy Star award for superior energy efficiency.

Staff reported Monday that the EPA recently bestowed the award on City Hall for its green building design and energy-efficient equipment and systems. Only 2,200 office buildings nationwide have received the Energy Star award since its inception in 1992.

The distinctive, angular, terra cotta and silver City Hall building opened to the public in early 2006. Formerly used to house telephone switching equipment for a telecommunications company, the building underwent extensive renovations. Public safety and other municipal services were consolidated in a central, downtown location at the new City Hall. 

Besides the Energy Star award, the Bellevue City Hall also has received a Commendation Award from the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The chapter noted the building represented "a powerful urban move that transform(ed) a formerly suburban office building into an important city destination."

City Hall also received a merit award from the AIA. The regional jury noted that the ambitious renovation project was "an insightful and successful transformation of a drab, former telecommunications building into a state-of-the-art public amenity."

Feedback: Nora Johnson, Civic Services Director, 425-452-4167 or njohnson@bellevuewa.gov

The Council Agendas and Council Minutes pages offer complete information regarding Council meetings.

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