After years of Redmond’s shiny City Hall being disjointed from Centennial Park by a largely vacant block, the downtown destinations now have a grand connection.
City officials cut the ribbon Aug. 6 on the expanded park, an area featuring public art, lots of grassy space and a variety of places to sit. The park cost a total of $3.3 million, about $300,000 less than anticipated, with about $925,000 of that cost going toward acquiring homes and businesses on the block that were demolished for the park.
The city has been interested in expanding the park since the original one, also about an acre, opened in 2010, on Redmond’s 100th anniversary, said Annie McVay, parks and facilities division manager for the city. Around 2016, the city started buying properties on the block across SW Eighth Street from the existing park, including a thrift shop building and a couple houses. One house remains near the northwest part of the new park section, because its owner didn’t sell.
The opening celebration, which was held in conjunction with annual National Night Out events, was the finale of a quest to unite the downtown core at the Redmond Chamber of Commerce building on SW Seventh Street, with the new City Hall two blocks to the west, Redmond Mayor George Endicott told the audience. Part of that happened with the original Centennial Park, which includes a splash park and concession stand, but work still needed to be done.
“Today what we’re doing is celebrating that accomplishment,” Endicott said. “Of being able to finish this whole civic plaza and this notion of phase 2 of Centennial Park.”
City Councilor Joe Centanni, who led a task force created in 2016 to oversee the new section of park, thanked other members of the group, including officials at the Redmond Library. The park includes an area across from the library that’s designed for reading. It features a statue of a young boy with a book called “Short Stack,” dedicated to late Redmond educator Kaye Eberhard.
The city got feedback on the project using online surveys and open house meetings, Centanni said. Recommendations included more open space. The park also includes seating areas ranging from tables with built-in chess boards to artistic concrete benches.
“We got a lot of input from the community and what they saw as a vision,” he said. “As a task force, we didn’t want to duplicate things that were in the existing Centennial Park, we wanted it to be additive.”
Standing near an elevated area that served as a stage for a band that played after the ceremony, Centanni said he is personally excited for the project coming to fruition.
“Essentially capturing this open space in our downtown core, is something that you don’t get back if you lose it,” he said. “I really believe that the future generations are, actually, going to appreciate this even more than the current residents, because they are going to look back and say, ‘Wow, it was really great of them to not just let this get all built up and lose that opportunity for that open space.’ ”
Endicott, who worked in The Netherlands for five years, said the way the park incorporated The Pig and Pound Public House reminded him of European parks.
“The notion of having a retail establishment, particularly a restaurant, is kind of a long tradition that you see over in Europe,” he said.
The park had minor delays because of snow and rain earlier this year, McVay said. But the final product was worth it.
“Oh my god, it’s amazing,” she said after the ceremony.
— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@ redmondspokesman.com