In 20 years, Mercer Island and Redmond will have light rail and an urban corridor, Bellevue and Issaquah will see a boom in both population and job growth, and Kirkland will have an indoor recreation center.
That's what the mayors of those cities imagined when asked about the future at the on Wednesday, hosted by the Bellevue Downtown Association.
Moderator James Whitfield, president of Leadership Eastside, asked the mayors to describe how they would imagine their cities in 20 years.
Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett said that Mercer Island will stay largely the same – except for the Sound Transit’s East Link light rail line and the growth expected around it.
“We’ll have light rail, and we’ll have a town center that has grown up more than it has today,” he said. The town center will have more of a retail, housing and job mix than it does today, he said.
Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee said that Bellevue will continue to grow, and remain an international community, as it is today with more than 80 languages spoken in schools and more than 30 percent of residents foreign born.
"We will increase the population by another 20,000. We will increase by 40,000 jobs. We will have downtown Bellevue continue to absorb most of the growth, increasing by 9,000 residents, and 28,000 jobs," said Lee. "There's a lot of opportunity in Bellevue."
Growth, with an eye toward the environment, is in Issaquah’s future, including a future that adopts “our vision in which we grow up and not out,” said Mayor Ava Frisinger.
She said the city is working on a comprehensive plan “to have an urban center, which we hope will be attractive to high capacity transit in the future,” she said.
The city also boasts a high percentage of undeveloped forest and a salmon-bearing stream, which residents believe are important to protect, she said.
“We also place a very high priority on our natural environment,” she said.
Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride imagined Kirkland to have further developed its already highly regarded parks system and amenities.
“We’ll have a world-class indoor recreation center that will have the ability for our residents in the worst months of the year to recreate in order that we can help with the idea of healthy lifestyles,” she said.
The Cross-Kirkland Corridor, an old rail line recently acquired by the city, will become a trail and light transportation thoroughfare through parks, neighborhoods and businesses.
“It will rival anything you can see in Paris or New York,” she said.
“I’ll be 80 years old,” she added. “It will be a place where I will be able to walk about -- with my walker. I’ll be welcomed along with the youngest in our community and it will be a great place to grow old in.”
Redmond Mayor John Marchione imagined life along the future, and as yet unscheduled, downtown Redmond segment of Sound Transit’s East Link light rail.
“Bring out your calendars, 20 years from tomorrow, we’ll be taking a ride on the new segment on Sound Transit from our Overlake Transit Center to downtown Redmond," he said.
He said that the area of Redmond near Sears, Safeway and the old Group Health building will be a high tech, urban corridor, which would give Redmond residents a choice about where to live in the city, he said.
One of the largest businesses in the city would also adapt. Microsoft will build campuses along the transit routes, he said, and could rely more on the light rail system instead of the private Connector buses, he said.
The Wednesday lunchtime event was at in Bellevue's Symetra building.