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Thought the Renton Library Issue Was Settled? Think Again

Some library advocates are crying foul over the King County Library System's plan to remodel the library -- a plan critics say would reduce the library's size by 30 percent.

So while the Renton Library will stay where it is, it might not stay as it is.

A King County Library System plan to renovate the historic library which straddles the Cedar River has critics angered over what they see as a plan to completely change the library's character -- rather than a simple restoration.

Chief among the complaints: Moving the entrance.

“It’s an outrage and a ‘slap in the face’ to Renton residents that KCLS plans to take away our beloved entrance over the Cedar River," Beth Asher of Citizens to Save Renton Downtown Cedar River Library said in a prepared statement.

"Residents and non-residents a like love entering the library, viewing the beautiful Cedar River, and seeing salmon swimming upstream in the fall.”

Last summer, Asher's group waged a successful election battle to keep the library where it is rather than build a new library. The group didn't anticipate another library fight so soon.

“People are upset that KCLS has not listened to residents’ wishes," Asher said in the statement. "They have completely disregarded the original voter intent and ignored subsequent public comment meetings on the library design."

Karen Sauve February 27, 2013 at 03:03 AM
Renton citizens have been loud and clear that they did not want a smaller library and the entrance should stay where it is. We can access the library easily from either side of the bridge and walking out on the bridge and looking at the river are all part of the library experience. We're paying for the renovation, not KCLS. And KCLS has a history of building libraries that are not what the people want and are soon outgrown. Our city council and mayor should be representing the clearly expressed will of the people of Renton and not KCLS.
Hiding Public Documents February 27, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Email all members of the Washington State House of Representatives. Tell them to defeat HB 1185 and 1128 which both aim to make it impossible and prohibitively costly to obtain public records. These bills if passed would allow government decisions to be made in relative secrecy. We need transparent government. Then for the issue on the library, someone needs to dig into the public records and request information from the City of Renton as it relates to the library. Who is pushing for this change that none of us want? Usually an issue can be solved or effectively corrected once you follow the trail of information and "who traded what" to make this happen. I don't have time at the moment to post all the email addresses of all the members of the House of Representatives, but perhaps Beth Asher or someone on the committee can go onto the Washington State Legislature site and then blog with all their addresses. It is important to write to the each member and not just the bill's sponsors. It appears this bill is soon coming up for a vote in front of the entire House of Representatives. If it passes, it will make it more difficult for us to get the information that we need and successfully fight this issue.
Jeannie Keyes February 28, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Agree on so many levels. #1 - the library is staying where it is. #2 - don't tear down a building and build a smaller unit when you already have one hundreds of square feet bigger. #3 - if the city had done proper maintenance on the building all along we wouldn't have to put any money into it except for upkeep. #4 - instead of tearing down and rebuilding this smaller facility - just make repairs to the one we already have and love. #5 - DO NOT THROW AWAY ANY MORE BOOKS AND PERIODICALS - THAT IS CRIMINAL IN MY VIEWS!!! #6 - if kcls won't work with us as the people of this town - let's just take our library back! Jeannie Keyes, owner, The Venus Moon, Renton
Ruth Shilling February 28, 2013 at 03:00 AM
We should never have given the county library system a foot in the door of our library. The more control we give to people outside our city the less control we have to keep the essence of our own community. The county's vision is for media rooms and meeting rooms. Renton's idea was books. At this time, nearly all people have computers and internet in their homes as do the schools. I have parents who tell me that their children go to the libraries to see the things on computers that are not allowed in their homes or in school. What are we going to do with a building that is mainly geared to servicing these 'low information' people. They will be emailing by smartphone and reading on their kindle. But by then, from the looks of what is going on, we will then have no books and in my vision, no library. I'm sick of the whole mess including the idea that our city council has let this happen. Leave the building the way we want it and go redesign the 520 bridge. Ruth Shilling
mthrship March 02, 2013 at 11:10 PM
I agree with Councilwoman Marcie Palmer, one of only 3 council members listening to and supporting Renton residents. Let's renovate, not remove! What are the architects thinking, presenting a single-faceted design for such an iconic building? A design that removes the building! What are the mayor and the other 4 council members thinking, not to listen to the obvious wishes of the people paying their salaries and the renovation bill? We said, don't make it smaller, we need space for programs, books, computers and meeting rooms. Too bad. We'd like the entrance to stay over the river. Too bad. By the way, moot point because your library will be a pile of rubble as soon as we get the design approval on March 26th. Where are the people we elected to represent us in all this? Except for Randy Corman, Marcie Palmer and Greg Taylor, apparently firmly on the other side of the fence. For all KCLS' attempts to skew public opinion, the fact remains there are alternatives. There are ways to make the building energy efficient without making it smaller and forcing an entrance with a "gorgeous" view of a parking lot on us. For Mr. Ptacek, whose only idea of a "state of the art" library seems to be a new library, I'd direct you to the Library of Congress ... Is it possible that after lauding the expertise of KCLS in so many areas Mr. Ptacek, you and your staff are truly incapable of re-designing the ample space we've given you? We'd be glad to hire a firm that can do that for you ...

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