Opinion

Imagine Overlake: coming soon

Did you know that Overlake Village Park, now in the design and public comment phase, is only the first of three parks to be developed in the Overlake neighborhood during the next 20 years? This park will be the centerpiece of new construction at the former Group Health hospital site. Eventually more than nine acres of parkland will be built in Overlake to provide the level of service needed as that community grows. How these three recreational facilities complement each other to create a “place” in Overlake should be considered even as the first park is being planned.

Did you know that South Lake Union — that new Seattle community emerging amid a lot of buzz — might be considered a template of all that Overlake could be on a somewhat smaller scale? To help shape the growth of South Lake Union, a significant partnership has been created between city planners, developers and the “Friends and Neighbors of South Lake Union” — a proactive, multi-stakeholder community council that has recognized the value of collaborative efforts around urban form, housing, transportation and economic development. Redmond (and our Bel-Red neighbors) might benefit from South Lake Union’s example as we build a new community in Overlake.

When we think about Overlake Village, a vision of the broader neighborhood is helpful. A park does not exist in isolation. Although a key catalyst for growth in the future Overlake neighborhood, that park and activities there are only one element in building a sense of place. As downtown Redmond has shown us with the Central Connector and other projects, it takes multiple focal points to make a community desirable and livable. In the years ahead, there will be opportunities to add character to Overlake, largely along the 152nd Avenue corridor that will lead to the new EastLink light rail station passing a large park and plaza on the west. But it takes a community to make such a place livable by adding a human dimension to the built environment under development….a brew pub, bookstore or neighborhood-centered coffee house, for example.

Now is the time to get in on the ground floor, think about Overlake as our “other downtown” and set a framework for what we’d like to see painted on the canvas that the city, Overlake Village developers and those that follow will be providing. Imagine Overlake is launching that “Friends and Neighbors” process with a community information meeting to be held from 6:30-8 p.m. on March 10 at the Redmond Library. Watch for additional details in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, contact imagineoverlake@gmail.com with any questions or to indicate your areas of interest.

Tom Hinman is a member of Imagine Overlake.

 

 

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