Message to the Brand X newspaper in Seattle: Don't trash my Bellevue unless you know what you're talking about! One of the two Bellevue-bashing...
Message to the Brand X newspaper in Seattle: Don’t trash my Bellevue unless you know what you’re talking about!
One of the two Bellevue-bashing articles on the cover of your features section Tuesday didn’t even get the locale correct.
The three Points communities — Evergreen, Hunts, and Yarrow — aren’t part of Bellevue. Evergreen Point is in Medina, and Hunts Point and Yarrow Point are towns unto themselves. And frankly, comparing Seattle to Bellevue is like comparing Bellevue to Fall City. Seattle is considerably larger geographically and populationwise than Bellevue, and it is more than 100 years older.
But even straight across, Bellevue deserves better.
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Cool kids stay busy
The reporter complained that a truck driver didn’t know where the “cool kids” hang out and she couldn’t find them.
Our cool kids were probably at swim-team practice, taking music lessons, shooting a few hoops at the Boys & Girls Club or working part time. Most kids I know do lots of volunteer work. It’s kids who chair an annual 24-hour challenge relay in Bellevue’s Downtown Park to raise money for youth activities. These same kids also organize fundraising events for their teams, their schools and disaster relief and they collect for food banks.
Our cultural heart? Sure, we’ve got Bellevue Square, but we also have the Bellevue Arts Museum, the world-renowned Rosalie Whyel Museum of Doll Art and KidsQuest Children’s Museum, set to open this month. The Theatre at Meydenbauer features ballet, choral and orchestra concerts, musicals and is the home stage to a couple of theatrical groups. (Without money and support from Bellevue residents, Seattle’s opera, symphony orchestra, ballet and theater groups would be much diminished.)
It was Bellevue that gave rise to the outdoor arts fairs with the granddaddy of them all, the original Pacific Northwest Arts & Crafts Fair. That’s thanks to the Freeman family, by the way, who helped found the fair and each July still graciously opens the Bellevue Square parking garage to the event.
So there’s a skate bowl near Seattle Center? Bellevue has an indoor skate park, an outdoor skate court at Lakemont Park and another opening soon in Crossroads Park. When Eastgate Park opens Saturday, we will have a challenge course and a climbing wall.
Kelsey Creek and Mercer Slough Park both reflect the city’s agricultural roots with farm animals and blueberry fields. The 36-acre Bellevue Botanical Garden blooms year-round with flowers, plants and, this time of year, with holiday lights.
One wonderful change in the past two decades has been Bellevue’s expanded cultural diversity. We’re anything but the milquetoast described in the article.
More than 42 percent of Bellevue School District students are nonwhite. (Seattle numbers are 59 percent nonwhite.) We have Asian, Indian, Russian and Latino stores and restaurants to match.
Maybe the only Bellevue eatery Seattleites have tried is Seastar or the traditional chains, but you’re missing a great meal if you haven’t dined at Tosoni’s, Sans Souci, Andiamo, or Bis on Main restaurants. I have trouble finding a good breakfast in Seattle, but in Bellevue we have Lil’ Jon’s, Stamo’s Cafe and Chace’s Pancake Corral — all independent and all local hangouts.
Shopping for all wallets
When it comes to shopping, the article said the only stores for mere mortals were J.C. Penney and Macy’s. Over here, folks shop not just at Bellevue Square/Lincoln Square but at Factoria Mall (Target, Mervyn’s of California, Old Navy, Nordstrom Rack), Crossroads (Michael’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Pier I) and Fred Meyer in the Overlake area and at a Goodwill outlet. Crossroads is even cool enough that it has a branch library.
You’re right in one area: We don’t have much nightlife and hipster hangouts yet. Fun music and entertainment can always be found weekend nights at Crossroads, but it’s more family than funky. After all, we’re the city that lost our Hooter’s because it didn’t draw big enough crowds. That’s not all bad considering the fights outside some Seattle nightspots.
Cool neighborhoods? We have all kinds — some where people know their neighbors well, others where folks just wave. We have waterfront neighborhoods where people park boats outside their houses, and we have neighborhoods of modest homes and low-income apartments. We have houses with three- and four-car garages and we have people who depend upon bus routes. Bellevue has retirement housing, shelters for the homeless and food banks.
In other words, like all cities, Bellevue has both warts and beauty spots. I, for one, happen to think the city’s great personality outweighs any warts.
Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or email@example.com