Summer Sundays in the Park series to encourage residents to use Downtown Park

This summer, the City of Redmond will hold a series of events at Downtown Park to encourage residents to utilize the new space.

This summer, the City of Redmond will hold a series of events at Downtown Park to encourage residents to utilize the new space.

Located at 16101 Redmond Way, the three-quarter acre patch of grass is now open to the public but goes mostly unused save for the occasional dogs and their owners out for a walk, said City of Redmond senior park planner B. Sanders.

But starting this weekend, she said the city hopes to bring people to the park with “Sundays in the Park,” a five-week series of activity-filled afternoons that will include live music and old-fashioned lawn games such as badminton, croquet, bocce ball and even a giant chess board. With the exception of this weekend, all of the weekly events will be from 1-3 p.m.

This Sunday’s event — which kicks off the series and closes Derby Days — will be from 4-8 p.m. and feature local “X Factor” finalist, LeRoy Bell, a rhythm and blues musician.

The following weeks’ entertainment will include local performers from the Old Fire House Teen Center (OFH) on July 22, Sophisticated Big Band from the Redmond Senior Center (RSC) on July 29, “Junior Voices” from the Redmond Academy of Theatre Arts on Aug. 5 and MoJo, a jazz band from the RSC, on Aug. 12.

Sanders (below) said city officials worked to get a variety of performers that would appeal to all demographics.

“A lot of it is to help get people acquainted with the new space,” she said about the series.

Clint McCune, who co-owns SoulFood Books in downtown and serves as the chair of the city’s Arts Commission, said Downtown Park is also a more centralized and visible location for performing arts events. He said they hope Sundays in the Park will also serve as a catalyst to cultivate the local arts scene and show residents they don’t have to go beyond their backyards to find talented performers.

McCune said the Sunday series is part of an effort to expand the arts throughout Redmond. In the past, most events such as Arts in the Parks have been at City Hall but this year, the Arts Commission has partnered with other groups in the city such as Redmond Town Center, which will host Friday evening concerts this summer previously held at City Hall. There will still be Arts in the Parks noon concerts at City Hall on Thursdays.

“Now our venue is the city,” McCune said about their thought process regarding arts programming in the community. “It is safe to be creative within the bounds of Redmond.”

McCune credits this to Parks Director Craig Larsen, who he said sees the whole picture and realizes the arts are just as important as keeping lawns mowed and trails clean.

In addition to highlighting the park and the arts, Sanders said the city will set up a booth at Sundays in the Park to gather public feedback on Downtown Park’s future and what residents want to see done with the space, which will expand eastward and stop about halfway between Brown Street and Leary Way Northeast. The total size of the park, once complete, will be two acres.

“One day, it’s going to be a really fun urban park,” she said.

Sanders, who lives in the Bear Creek neighborhood, said personally, some things she would like to see with the park are an ornamental garden, fountain and smaller pockets throughout the park where people can gather.

“I guess I’d like to see a space that’s really beautiful with some unique features,” she said.

Sanders said all of the property within the proposed park’s boundaries has been purchased and some tenants have already relocated. Others will moving out soon and she said the goal is to have all buildings vacated by the end of the year.

The city still needs funding to develop the park, but Sanders said they hope to do some low-cost interim prep work and enhancements with the land to get the site ready for what’s to come.

One enhancement that will appear tomorrow morning was red bistro chairs (above left) and tables on the sidewalks along 161st Avenue Northeast and Cleveland Street, which Sanders said people will be able to move around and gather informally.