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Letter: Mayor Law & City Council Must Support 'Big & Bold' Downtown Library

Stuart Avery writes in a letter to the editor that the city must find a way to fund a larger design than what is currently proposed by KCLS.

Dear Honorable Mayor Law,      

I compliment you on your article in the Reporter on the 5th.  I felt you did a good job presenting the reality of the circumstances the city faces, and I got the sense you were asking readers to chime in, so I am hopeful that many will.

Council member Corman’s remarks that lead the article illustrate brilliantly a contentious relationship between City Hall, or KCLS, and the not unrealistic expectations of a community as a customer.  Mr. Corman made another comment at that council meeting which I believe rings very true as well.  Both KCLS, City Hall, and the City Council have all spent a tremendous amount of political capital.  

For KCLS, this public dance has negatively impacted broader future support for revenue increases, and or annexation opportunities.  For the city, many in leadership have lost the trust of a community which you reported couldn’t stomach any tax increases, and then were led into a huge one with KCLS.  Given the cost now to Renton tax payers for both the library construction bonds, and KCLS services, we could have done this better if we had as much to spend but remained independent.  

I question the cost of de-annexation, and the costs of rebuilding a once great municipal library from the ashes of a failed betrothed relationship.  Would it not be throwing good money after bad?  So lets talk about what makes the most sense now in lieu of our cities present (and as you stated) need to focus on other and equally important city needs.      

I may not be in the camp who wants the existing building to remain as it is, however I feel very strongly the library should and can remain the same size.  And, that it can and should be designed and built in a way that recognizes important attributes of the location and surroundings, while incorporating a modern architecture to accomplish this.  Our city’s own thorough study had concluded we need libraries to serve a larger number of people.  City Hall has the opportunity to get this right and come out on top.  As I see it, most of your constituency likes the Cedar River location and thanked you for the opportunity to make that choice. 

I recognize it was your lead that made it happen, and I’m very thankful for it.  But don’t discount the importance of the effort it took to earn that opportunity. Many library patrons I’ve spoken with are in favor of KCLS library services (not their behavior), and are thrilled the proper location has been retained, but are flabbergasted by the downsizing nature of the project.  It is a salting of, not a healing of wounds. As one of your constituents, I am asking you to find a way to fund a new library that will be both big and bold.  

It would be a mistake miss this opportunity.  It will require more money, and you need to make the case that it will be money well worth the investment.  As you stated, the city found a way to fund a successful pool even when the city as whole failed to have the same vision.  Am I to believe the same level of conviction can not be collectively mustered up for our public library?      

Mayor Law, I believe the city needs a large library.  Ask KCLS to come to the table with a design that incorporates the most of amount of space, which embraces outdoor public viewing and gathering.  Tell them they can put as many entrances they want on it, just as long as there is a good one at mid-span. We want a library the draws people and encourages them to enjoy the location for all the reasons we all know.  It must be ample, not anemic in the area available for safe quite school study and child learning, as well as increase the capacity and capabilities of both online and tangible content access. Build it in the spirit of, and retain the special attributes of, a truly special place. A design that will continue to define our library as an regional Icon. This can be accomplished.      

It was bold to borrow so much. The city council extended to the limit of its borrowing, and embarked on a poorly conceived plan. The costs of the thwarted library move needs to be added back to the kettle so we can build a proper library, not a library that says “this is all we had left to spend”.  Had better decisions been made earlier, we would have the full amount to spend now, and would probably be nearly done with the Cedar River Library, and ready to break ground on the Highlands.  Recognize and take ownership that it wasn’t done right, but needs to be now.        

The parks master plan funding in the future may hinge on the decisions being made on the library. If your parks master plan funding is to win city approval, it should earmark for the additional funding to required to assure a large library. The library should be an anchor for the Tri-Park plan agenda to tax payers. When you have 76% support on a cornerstone, you could leverage that to benefit everyone's interests. Please find a way to fund the a larger design.  

Bring KCLS funding necessary, tell them to get this right or you’ll boot them out and do it right without them.  

If done right, some may find a little political capital has made a way back in their pockets.  

Respectfully, Stuart Avery

Dave Beedon April 09, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Good letter, Stuart. I hope the City and KCLS can get together to solve this issue.
Michelle Peterson April 12, 2013 at 03:33 AM
The KCLS is a fabulous catalog and resource to our family. I never had access to any of the material I regularly access today, thanks to the anexation. I have borrowed books for research on Sanskrit and Yoga that have come from far reaches of the county. My family has enjoyed music and movies that we otherwise never would have. I have listened to many audio books while walking my dogs hours and hours around this beautiful city. I love being a part of the King Co Library System and would be truely heartbroken were we to loose it. Renton has never had such resources alone as we do being a part of a greater system. Please, please, please, keep KCLS. It's the catalog, not the building that matters!!

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