Council approves 14 new firefighter, police jobs
Also: May declared Older Americans Month; Council briefed on Bel-Red Overlake Transportation Study
The City Council Monday approved hiring eight additional firefighters and six police officers to meet rapidly expanding public safety needs.
Bellevue consistently ranks as one of the safest cities in the nation, with rates for both property and violent crimes continuing to fall in recent years. At the same time, residential fires have decreased over the past two years to their lowest level since 1997.
Nevertheless, the rapid growth of the downtown area, as well as an aging and increasingly diverse population pose significant challenges to maintaining public safety services at present levels, city officials say.
The city expects to hire the new firefighters and police by early summer.
The Council also approved a new position in the city's Transportation Department to update the city's computerized traffic signal and communication system. The current system was installed in the late 1980s, and cannot be updated to meet current needs.
All 15 new positions will cost the city an estimated $680,000 annually.
Mayor declares May "Older Americans Month"
Mayor Grant Degginger has proclaimed May "Older Americans Month," urging all residents to take time to honor older adults and the professionals, family members and community members who care for them.
The mayor, as part of a national celebration of elderly citizens, requested people work to strengthen Bellevue for older adults by recognizing the changing nature of their needs, and providing them with more opportunities to make informed choices about their lives.
This is the 22nd year Bellevue has celebrated National Older Americans Month. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month, encouraging the nation to pay tribute to older people across the country. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter's proclamation changed the name to Older Americans Month.
The number of baby boomers reaching traditional retirement age continues to increase. According to the U.S. Census, there were 37.3 million people 65 and older living in the United States on July 1, 2006, representing 12 percent of the population.
In Bellevue, according to the 2000 Census, the number of people 65 and older was 13.4 percent, an increase from 10 percent in 1990. The age group 75 years and older represented the fastest growing segment of Bellevue's population during that 10-year period. Currently, there are a greater proportion of residents over the age of 65 in Bellevue compared to King County (10.5 percent) and the state (11.2 percent).
Over the past decade, the city's programs and services have been transforming to meet the changing needs of a healthier, better educated and more diverse, older adult population.
To celebrate Older Americans Month, a number of special activities have been planned, including theater workshops, day trips, health education activities, financial and legal clinics and more.
At National Senior Health & Fitness Day (Wednesday, May 28) at South Bellevue Community Center, 14509 SE Eastgate Way, seniors are invited to explore fitness possibilities, learn about healthy aging, try classes and enter to win door prizes. The event will be 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information about activities celebrating Older Americans Month, call 425-452-7681.
Council briefed on Bel-Red Overlake Transportation Study
Bellevue transportation planners briefed Council Monday on efforts to update an agreement between Bellevue and Redmond concerning joint transportation projects and land-use coordination in a heavily-traveled area that borders the two cities.
The Bel-Red Overlake Transportation Study, commonly referred to as BROTS, is an interlocal agreement the two cities signed in 1999 that is scheduled to run through 2012. It covers an area on either side of State Route 520, including the Bellevue Redmond Road corridor and the Overlake area.
Both cities foresee significant changes in their respective portions of the BROTS area. A new agreement is intended to update transportation and land use plans through 2030. Plans call for adopting the revised document by the end of 2008.
New projects in the updated agreement will be focused in the East Bellevue area, which was not included in the 1999 BROTS. Bellevue Transportation Department staff are proposing several projects that could reduce impacts from increased traffic expected in East Bellevue, including development of a bus rapid transit route, minimizing one-driver trips to job sites, improved bicycle and walking routes, traffic signal changes and increased traffic calming measures.
To learn what types of mitigation are of interest to East Bellevue residents, city staff will use several methods, starting with a May 15 open house, called Spring Forward Expo -- Projects Affecting Your Future. It takes place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
Other outreach will involve ads and public service announcements, a survey by mail, a website where people provide feedback, contact with groups and neighborhood associations, and communication with the city's Transportation Commission.
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