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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Council Roundup: top volunteers honored

Volunteer Jim McWha at Kelsey Creek Park.Also, impact fee increases approved and Lake Heights and Newport Hills to get identity treatments 

Kelsey Creek Park is a unique facility -- a 160-acre, working homage to Bellevue's farming heritage, complete with sheep, horses and a big white barn. Maintaining the park is a special challenge. Jim McWha, a volunteer handyman, helps staff meet that challenge.

The park features McWha has personally built include a rolling gate for the barn and pens and shelters for the poultry, waterfowl and rabbits. For his extraordinary contributions, McWha has been named Bellevue's first Volunteer of the Year.

The City Council Monday honored McWha, as well as Community Volunteer of the Year Joan Mehline and Youth Volunteer of the Year Rick Teegarden. McWha, Mehline and Teegarden are star examples of the more than 5,900 volunteers who performed a staggering 128,800 hours of community service for city programs alone in 2008.

"Volunteers' contributions make a very real and lasting impact to the community," City Manager Steve Sarkozy said. 

The city established annual volunteer awards in an effort to recognize people who have not only made a significant contribution to the community, but have also shown leadership, innovation, creativity and collaboration. Bellevue facilitates volunteer activities both for the city and for the entire Eastside, so there are separate "city" and "community" volunteer awards.

The Council recognized Mehline for helping the Puget Sound Blood Center. Over the years, she has assisted an estimated 250,000 donors. Since each pint of blood helps up to three hospital patients, Joan's care has helped save as many as 750,000 people in the community.

Teegarden, a Sammamish High School junior, was recognized for his work with the "Kids Care Coat Drive," which has resulted in more than 5,000 coats and jackets being donated to needy people.  

"Volunteering is a very powerful, positive way to respond to today's challenges," Sarkozy says. "Every contribution improves our world. We invite all the citizens of Bellevue to consider becoming a volunteer, either in a city program or throughout the community. Some very powerful and satisfying opportunities exist."
For more information about Bellevue's volunteer program, or to access the Community Volunteering Guide, visit the Volunteering pages or contact the city's volunteer program coordinator at volunteer@bellevuewa.gov.

Feedback: Shelly Shellabarger, Volunteer Program Coordinator, 425-452-5375, sshellabarger@bellevuewa.gov

Council OKs gradual impact fee increase to help pay cost of growth
The council approved increases to the city's transportation impact fee program, phased in over the next six years, to help pay for street improvements needed as a result of new development. Bellevue currently has one of the lowest transportation impact fees in the state.

Money from transportation impact fees is tied directly to the size and amount of growth, its timing and land-use type. Impact fees pay for improvements to roads and intersections that increase capacity and are needed to serve the new growth. Impact fees are calculated by determining how many more vehicle trips are generated as a result of new development; the more traffic that results from a project, the higher the amount paid by a developer.

Bellevue now charges an average of $469 per p.m. peak hour trip, using an impact fee schedule in effect since January 2005. The current rate will remain in effect through the end of 2009.

The new impact fee rate, which becomes effective Jan. 1, 2010, will be $2,000 per p.m. peak hour trip. On Jan. 1, 2013, the rate goes to $3,000 per trip; and on Jan. 1, 2016, the rate goes to $5,000 per trip. After January 2016, the ordinance approved Monday allows for an annual adjustment to the rates based on the state Department of Transportation construction cost index.

Bellevue's current impact fee rate of $469 per p.m. peak hour trip is well below other nearby cities. Recent comparisons show Kirkland at $3,787 (2009), Issaquah at $4,839 (2006), Redmond at $8,462 (2007) and Sammamish at $14,707 (2006).

In unanimously approving impact fee changes, council members were particularly concerned about the effect it would have on development and decided to phase in the higher rates gradually. The new fee schedule is expected to generate approximately $45.7 million in revenue from 2010 to 2019 to help pay for transportation costs associated with future development.

In addition to the change in the fee schedule, the council approved simplifying the process by using one citywide district to calculate impact fees rather than the current 14 different districts; it also changed the method used to determine the true cost of growth.

For more information, see the council agenda memorandum.

Feedback: Eric Miller, Capital Programming Division Manager, 425-452-6146 or emiller@bellevuewa.gov.

Neighborhood identity projects approved for Lake Heights, Newport Hills          
The City Council awarded a contract for construction of "neighborhood identity" treatments at six locations in Newport Hills and Lake Heights.

Residents of the two neighborhoods have been working with city staff since the fall of 2007 to plan a series of coordinated entry treatments that celebrate those neighborhoods' character and history.

Funding for the $100,000 project will come from a capital fund established by the council "to communicate Bellevue's civic and neighborhood identity to citizens and visitors."

The Newport Hills/Lake Heights effort began with formation of a steering committee of local residents and went on to include neighborhood tours, community meetings, neighborhood mailings and questionnaires. Both the Newport Hills Community Club and the Lake Heights Neighborhood Association played key roles in the process of defining projects and obtaining community feedback.

If the Newport Hills/Lake Heights identity project continues on schedule, construction could begin late this month on treatments at 119th Avenue Southeast near Southeast 48th Street, 119th Avenue Southeast near Southeast 45th Place, 116th Avenue Southeast at Southeast 48th Street, Southeast 60th Street near Lake Washington Boulevard, Southeast 60th Street near Coal Creek Parkway, and 123rd Avenue Southeast at Newcastle Way.

Site preparation and installation of signage should reach "substantial completion" by the end of July. Installation of landscaping would take place in fall in order to avoid planting during the hot and dry weeks of summer.

Feedback: Cheryl Kuhn, Neighborhood Outreach Manager, 425-452-4089, ckuhn@bellevuewa.gov

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

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