Today city representatives joined the Bellevue Rotary at Downtown Park to kick off construction of the highly-anticipated last segment of the circular promenade and a new play area for children of all abilities.
The ceremony marked an exciting milestone for the “Complete the Circle” project, which was approved by voters in 2008. Bellevue will not only finish the promenade, but also complete additional phases of the 1997 Downtown Park master plan, including a water feature and a grand southern entrance.
“Completing this work brings us full circle — literally and figuratively — with what once started as a dream for a world-class park downtown,” said Mayor John Stokes. “I’d like to thank the community and former city and civic leaders for staying true to the original vision for Downtown Park, and making the dream come true.”
Key elements of “Complete the Circle” project include:
- Completion of the circular canal and tree-lined promenade;
- Creation of a grand entrance and water feature at the south end of the park;
- Terraced seating, stairways and accessible paths;
- Closing the parking lot off Northeast Second Street and expanding the one off 100th Avenue Northeast; and
Additional landscape plantings.
The existing play area will be transformed into the “Inspiration Playground” through a partnership with the local Rotary.
“‘Play’ is a universal language that transcends physical abilities,” said Rob Rose, co-chair of Inspiration Playground with Bellevue Rotary. ˜The playground’s accessible design and sensory-rich play experiences and equipment connects kids and families — with and without disabilities — by providing a unique opportunity to play.”
The new Inspiration Playground will have interactive play features that engage the senses, including tactile sculptures that encourage touching and climbing, and an interactive music plaza allowing users to create and respond to sound. A central “Whimsy Plaza” will feature a tree sculpture that evokes Dr. Seuss.
Local, regional and state officials joined the Bellevue Rotary and the community to celebrate the ceremonial groundbreaking next to the site of the future playground.
The city bought most of what is now Bellevue Downtown Park over 30 years ago, and the plan for the park called for a circular promenade and a grand entry on the south side. Two phases of construction were completed by 1990, but the circle remained unfinished.
The original park master plan, approved by the City Council in 1984, established the long-term vision for Downtown Park. An international design competition resulted in a park plan that provided a place for spontaneous play, respite, contemplation, exercise and community celebration.
Downtown Park is now central to Bellevue’s identity and plays a pivotal role in making downtown an appealing place for residents and visitors. Bellevue has often been dubbed “a city in a park.”
Construction is expected to be completed in time for next year’s annual Fourth of July event held at the park.