City holds public meeting to gain feedback on Redmond Central Connector project

The City of Redmond is seeking public input on the Redmond Central Connector through Dec. 3 and plans to present a draft design of the rail corridor's future use at the end of January, according to the project manager.

The City of Redmond is seeking public input on the Redmond Central Connector through Dec. 3 and plans to present a draft design of the rail corridor’s future use at the end of January, according to the project manager.

Dozens of Redmond citizens gathered at City Hall Monday evening for the city’s second public meeting regarding the the Redmond Central Connector Master Plan.

The purpose of the meeting was to review conceptual designs for the city-owned portion of the trail and park space along the former Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corridor, which includes a 3.89-mile-long linear stretch of land extending from the east end of the Bear Creek Trail in Redmond Town Center to Northeast 124th Street and gain feedback from the community.

Project manager Carolyn Hope said the design concepts — all of which integrate light rail transit — were devised taking into account input from the previous public meeting in September as well as various city departments, advisory committees, stakeholders and property owners.

“We’ll take more feedback from this meeting and we’ll come back with a draft (design) at the end of January,” she said.

Hope added that the public will have until Dec. 3 to submit comments on the design to the city. Resident can view design concepts at www.redmond.gov/rcc and submit their comments and ideas to cjhope@redmond.gov.

The evening began with an open house for attendees to familiarize themselves with the master plan and design concepts. This preceded a detailed presentation by Guy Michaelsen, which broke down the design concepts geographically. Michaelsen, who is with The Berger Partnership, the Settle-based landscaping architecture consultants for the project, said they hope to get a sense that people think they’re on the right track with the project as well as make minor course corrections.

“That’s what’s fun about these meetings,” he said about receiving feedback.

Michaelsen said since they are still in the planning process, they’re not sure what the price tag on the project will be.

One of them main goals of the Redmond Central Connector is to bring the city together using what once divided it: the abandoned railroad tracks. Planning commissioner Phil Miller said public input is the best way to make sure the project is a success, which is important because it affects so many people.

“It’s not a simple project,” he said. “We’re really talking about the heart and soul of our downtown and we really want to get this one right.”

Hope said they have been receiving positive feedback about the project — mainly because so many people want to see the corridor receive a makeover and see more open space downtown. Currently, it is difficult to get businesses to open facing the corridor, she said, but the city hopes to change this stigma.

Miller, who attended the meeting, said he has heard that residents want the Redmond Central Connector to honor the city’s history while reflecting its future as well as being modern but still warm and inviting.

One way the city hopes to achieve this is by integrating art into the design process from the beginning instead of installing it at a later date.

Perri Lynch of Velocity Made Good, an art studio in Seattle, has been with the Redmond Central Connector project since the beginning. Her role is to use art in various forms throughout the trail to tell Redmond’s story. The art will also help make the trail a destination and create a gathering place for the community.

Lynch has been part of similar projects, but she said the Redmond Central Connector has been unique not only in its integration of art from the beginning, but also with the level of community involvement throughout the planning process.

“This is a really wonderful thing,” she said.

Redmond resident Michael Heavener agreed that having public input is important, especially on a project that will be “enormously expensive.” Heavener, who is president of the Redmond Association of Spokenword (RASP), had not previously been involved, but attended Monday’s meeting because he wanted to see that the city will be spending money wisely. He wasn’t sure if enough people attended the meeting, but said it was good to see city officials interacting with and gaining input from the public.

“People are getting involved and that’s important,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to know what’s going on.”


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