“Bellevue will never see new life again.”
“Bellevue’s a dying town.”
“There’s nothing you can do to save Bellevue!”
“Been there. Done that. Why bother with Bellevue?”
“Bellevue’s a lost cause.”
“If you try anything too bold in Bellevue, the powers that be will never let you get away with it.”
These were the responses many of us heard when we first went public with the idea that has become Liberty in Bellevue. We were told to not get our hopes up. We were warned that taking a chance on this town would only result in failure. We were threatened to “know our place in the community” and remember “who’s in charge!”
Numerous community revitalization projects have been launched throughout the past decade in Bellevue with little or no lasting impact. Business revitalization efforts, community spruce ups, and significant entrepreneurial investments have all come through Bellevue throughout the past 10-15 years, yet our borough remains in economic decline and disrepair. Our business district is marred by massive vacancies and lackluster enterprises. Our residential areas continue to see declining property values and abandonment. Why hasn’t all the hard work in revitalizing our community resulted in lasting improvements? Why haven’t we seen a renewed interest from investors in our borough? What have we been missing?
It only took a small amount of digging to figure out the source of all the problems in the community: a local government more concerned about power trips than nurturing a community open and inviting to new ideas and economic growth.
Why would a restaurateur invest in Bellevue when they know they’ll have to fight tooth and nail for outdoor seating or other creative/essential ideas to attract customers? When other communities do all they can to recruit entrepreneurs, why would anyone risk opening a new boutique or shop in Bellevue when our local leadership actively discourage risk-taking and investment? Why would a first time home buyer consider purchasing in a new home in a “walkable community” with very little to offer in its business district and ever declining property values? Is there any wonder why our school district is buckling under the financial burden of a reduced tax base?
I stumbled upon this short video the other day and was inspired by what Mr. Roberts was able to accomplish in his community in Dallas. Where others saw a dying community, Mr. Roberts envisioned opportunity for new development. Where there were laws discouraging community growth and revitalization, Mr. Roberts decided to stand up to the over regulation discouraging the growth local officials claimed to desire.
It took a little risk. It took a little investment of time/money. It took a lot of hard work. But, at the end of the day, Mr. Roberts and those who joined him in the “Better Block” program were able to overcome the hurdles and see their dilapidated community transformed.
Sometimes, in the midst of the endless arguing, power grabs, and childish ego trips, its easy to forget why we ever began the effort which became Liberty in Bellevue. Liberty in Bellevue began with a goal much like Mr. Roberts – to bring renewed life and growth to Bellevue. After countless efforts to demonstrate to the powers that be that clinging to the past and personal power trips will NOT lead to rejuvenation and growth, it has become strikingly clear to us that the only way forward for Bellevue is to expose the root of the problem to the average person living here. The residents need to see that their elected leaders are far more concerned with the needs of their friends and neighbors and micromanaging borough employees, than with the economic collapse of the borough. The voters need to be made aware that efforts to revitalize and reinvest in the community have been intentionally choked to death by over regulation, jealousy, and egos run amok. The people needed to know that growth will never happen until the proper pruning is done.
Though we’ve been cast off by some as rabble rousers and radicals, all should know that no one involved in Liberty in Bellevue has willingly put their reputations on the line just for the fun of it. Everyone involved in Liberty in Bellevue have day jobs, families, friends, and a whole host of other responsibilities in which they’d rather put their time and energy. We’re not political gurus. We have no ulterior motives. The one thing that draws us together, the one thing that keeps us keeps us moving forward with the mission of Liberty in Bellevue is a love for our community, a love for Bellevue. We see what Bellevue has become. We see where Bellevue is headed. We desperately want to help Bellevue become what it always should have been.
When we look at our crumbling business district, rather than simply seeing economic blight, we see amazing opportunity. We envision a business district chalk full of creative shops, unique restaurants, and a fun-filled community life attracting folks from around the city and encouraging locals to walk to a “night out on the town” rather than driving to a neighboring community.
When we look at our dilapidated residential areas, rather than seeing a lost cause, we see fantastic investment potential. We envision streets lined with freshly renovated, well maintained houses inhabited by families and individuals proud to call Bellevue home with the knowledge that their investments are secure and their children are safe.
We envision a community where the needs of both the young and the elderly are met and all are able to greet one another as neighbors.
We envision a Bellevue that truly is a beautiful view of life well lived in a healthy, thriving community.
Check out the video below and be inspired. Be inspired by the community transformation that IS possible. Be inspired to be part of the solution that brings new life to Bellevue. Be inspired to liberate Bellevue from its downward spiral. Be inspired to vote on May 21st for new leadership and new possibilities for Bellevue.