Letters to the Editor

City leaders: It’s time to walk the walk | Letter

Open letter to Redmond mayor and City Council:

The Cleveland Streetscape show on Jan. 23 is yet another demonstration by Redmond to flash its communication while dodging any real change. We challenge you to start walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

You say that the city is acting to ease the traffic congestion and daily removal of parking and access for businesses and residents on Cleveland, yet there is no real change such as limiting construction workers to alternate parking sites, opening city property to private parking during the extensive congestion and opening the city’s fee-based lot to free access during the next year of construction. In fact, all that the city has offered is the privilege to pay $50 per month for on street parking, if you can find it. Just communicating more through email, message boards and traffic alerts is insulting without real change.

You say that the city is “reaching out” to businesses and residents to alleviate the frustrations. In Redmond city-speak, “reaching out” or “outreach” translates to “we the city decide what to do in the bubble of City Hall, tell residents and businesses after the fact using fancy signage and communications specialists, slick websites and the occasional public presentation, all without ever actually accommodating requested changes.”

You say that the city wants to consider the needs of the business community, only to allow the longstanding Redmond Chamber of Commerce and its nonprofit charter to lapse and be replaced with a “pay to play” large company economic social group.

Residents and business deserve more. We challenge you to do more than spend millions on pretty city buildings, entertainment events and dog parks for the transient apartment dwellers in our town, and a streetscape that will serve no fundamental purpose in the development of Redmond as a unique community. In fact, the recent Metro bus and car accident, which flipped a vehicle over the curb onto the new park grounds would probably injure or kill people playing in the park without some barrier between vehicles and the park grounds. You should consider enactment of the following types of “real” leadership steps:

1. Require a formal business impact review statement for any project like Streetscape, the Downtown Park and gradual denial of street parking to know what the impact might be, then establish clear mitigation steps, not just more data babble.

2. Obtain personal, actual knowledge of parking and access issues based on real-time talk with businesses where the mayor and council members go to the businesses so that you can consider how to keep construction workers from taking all accessible parking every day, blocking out U.S. mail, Fed Ex, visiting families and customers.

3. Ensuring a voice for small businesses, which are a dying presence in Redmond due to development policies, restoring the Chamber in addition to the “pay to play” economic development group of well-heeled corporate businesses.

4. Establish a vision and an identity for Redmond beyond just another pretty suburban town with nice sidewalks. Expensive parks and entertainment for transient apartment dwellers.  We have a growing aerospace, space and technology presence in Redmond — why not consider a Redmond Institute of Technology for teens or college-level students, a Policy Institute to tap so much local talent on the future of technology in the Northwest, or a startup campus for startup space entrepreneurs.

It’s time for our elected officials to move outside the bubble of their government campus, consider a real vision and future for Redmond’s identity and move beyond the easy process of simply building more buildings, streetscapes and parks.

Perhaps the Redmond Reporter might be the catalyst to start the dialog by inviting Jon Talton from the Seattle Times to address the citizens of Redmond with future vision ideas as he did for Bellevue in early December.

Mr. Mayor and members of the City Council, it’s time to walk the walk.

Bob Sailer

Cleveland Street business owner and former Redmond Chamber of Commerce president

 

 

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