Friday, December 28, 2012

Bellevue makes up lost ground in 2012

Fire Department boost and infrastructure improvements mark achievements


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

The Bellevue Fire Department celebrated the opening of a new fire station in 2012. Photo by Mountain Express

Thanks to cost-cutting measures, volunteer efforts and collections of past-due water and sewer bills, the city of Bellevue was able to take back lost ground suffered during the first years of the recession. City Hall was revamped and a new library was created in the old Bellevue marshal’s office next door for under $10,000. Building permits increased from 19 in 2011 to 23 in 2012. Business licenses also increased by 8.5 percent.

The city also pushed forward with street improvements and moved forward with a $1.5 million  federal grant to rebuild a portion of Broadford Road. It spent $700,000 on the third phase of a multi-year water main upgrade project.

O’Donnell Field was rehabilitated using donated funds and labor, and lighted crosswalks were installed across four intersections on Main Street, about the same time that speed limits were increased by the state on portions of the street.

Due to ramped-up past-due bill collection efforts and increased efficiencies at the new Bellevue wastewater treatment facility, sewer rates did not go up as much as expected. The rates rose 3.9 percent, rather than the expected 4.9 percent. With recent planned developments, the city’s rate- payers could see further relief in years to come. Bellevue also began a process for refinancing the city’s $6 million sewer bond.

The Planning and Zoning Commission vetoed a plan by Mountain Rides to build a transit hub at the south end of town, signaling a preference to keep the area open for business development, which could bring the city increased revenues in the future.

 

Fire Department

The Bellevue Fire Department saw a surge in morale when a city property land swap made possible a new, four-bay fire station at 517 N. Second Street. Within a few months, the city bought a $253,000 fire truck, which was driven to town from Florida by a team of Bellevue firefighters. Volunteer ranks have increased substantially, to the point that the city has had to turn away new recruits.

 

Safe Haven

In August, the city authorized annexation of about eight acres of property on the north end of town for construction of an 80-bed skilled-nursing and assisted-living facility to be operated by Safe Haven Health Care. The city expects a boon from this development, construction on which is scheduled to begin in spring 2013. 

Safe Haven is expected to bring 60 to 80 new jobs to the city and help keep seniors from having to move to cities in the Treasure Valley for care.

 

The return of big retail

Late in 2012, the city was set to welcome a prominent national retail store. Family Dollar was nearing completion of a building on north Main Street in Bellevue, promising good deals on numerous household products. Bryn Winburn, public relations manager for Family Dollar stores, said the company opened 475 new stores in the U.S. in 2012 alone.

In 2008, the company had $8.5 billion in sales. This year, more than 7,200 Family Dollar stores are employing more than 50,000 people. Ten employees will be added in Bellevue when the store is completed this summer, Winburn said.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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