Letter: Open Letter to Civic Leaders on April 15 KCLS Library Design Presentation

David A. Keyes writes on behalf of Citizens to Save Cedar River Library…Again! that the mayor and city council should press KCLS for a design that attempts to preserve as much of the current building as possible.

(Ed. Note: The following is intended as an "open letter" to Renton Mayor Denis Law and the Renton City Council. Renton Patch was also sent a copy of the letter, which is published in its entirety below)

Subject: Upcoming Schematic Design Presentation(s) for the Cedar River Library Scheduled by KCLS

Mayor Denis Law, Renton City Council Members: Mr. Corman, Council President; Mr. Zwicker, Ms. Palmer, Ms. Briere, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Persson, Mr. Prince;

Mr. Mayor and Council Members:

As announced in last Monday’s Council Meeting, the City Council is scheduled to receive a presentation of KCLS’s proposed Schematic Design for our Cedar River Library next Monday, April 15th during the Committee of the Whole Meeting, beginning at 5:30 pm. Several Council Members also mentioned that the City now expects KCLS to present at least one (1) design scheme developing an enclosed library area equivalent to our present Building on that site.

Presumably each design alternative will be presented to Council Members with directly comparable graphics, thorough discussion of commonalities and differences and direct comparison of detail and language in the respective Construction Cost /Project Cost estimates.

Many of us sincerely applaud negotiation and effort by all parties necessary to get to this point.

However we did not hear on Monday evening any mention of two issues of critical importance to many Renton Residents and Taxpayers. Neither issue is new. Neither should come as a surprise. Both have been expressed repeatedly and clearly to City staff and KCLS throughout this process.

The two issues are: First: A well thought-out Base Design Alternative must be presented which leaves intact the existing foot print and its enclosed volume; maintains or develops the primary public entry directly accessible from the pedestrian bridge and incorporates all (or nearly all) of the existing exterior brick wall panels. Demolition of the existing shell must be minimized. This was asked for repeatedly during the March 26th Presentation. Second: Public presentation of the revised design alternatives must be given to the Renton public at a venue and time consistent with maximum public participation. This presentation and question/answer period must be scheduled prior to subsequent Council Meetings so that residents can give informed input to the Council. Preferably, it can occur on a weekend afternoon and last several hours. The delivery and information-control techniques KLCS demonstrated in their March 26th presentation are not remotely acceptable and KCLS should be so advised by the City of Renton.

Relative to the concept of a Base Design Alternative:

A majority of Renton residents understand and respect the necessity of upgrading the building’s seismic design to ensure current standards of public safety for the life of the building. We see the value of subgrade abutments and piles shoreward of the existing end-wall foundations, but we are not so ignorant as to accept a braced frame design defining placement of exterior walls or rigidly limiting location of the building entry. We do value accessibility throughout our City and while we welcome accessibility improvements in the details of communication and alarm systems, various reach heights and access paths; we are insulted by Mr. Ptacek’s continued vague and irresponsible negative references regarding our Library and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We understand and endorse requirements for a new fire-protection system that communicates with alarm and reporting systems and can provide critical information to incoming emergency personnel.

We expect that interior faces of the exterior brick and columns will require covering with insulated furring and wall board, reducing heat loss. We understand the necessity of full replacement glazing systems with thermally-broken frames and the logic inherent in placing roof/ceiling insulation above the roof deck. We get that a 60-year old mechanical system is beyond any reasonable expectation of operating (design) life and understand that KCLS wishes to have new mechanical, lighting and control systems that can increase year-around comfort while greatly improve energy life-cycle cost. But we do not see the logic of placing heavy new mechanical units on the rooftop, particularly at the expense of our existing high roof area with its natural clerestory daylight or given the investment already proposed for braced frames.

To be clear: We expect to pay for careful resolution of these issues. None of these represent insurmountable problems or demand poor and inflexible solutions. None interfere with provision of an efficient and welcoming plan for library operations. What we do not accept is KCLS’s rigid insistence on destructive and costly ‘demolish-first’ solutions.

We wish to make clear, once again, our earnest expectation: KCLS must allow their design team to develop and propose at least one thoughtfully resolved scheme, artfully addressing the issues and opportunities inherent in the continued full use of our existing resource. Regardless of other schemes presented, there remains the necessity and the clear expectation on the part of many Renton Voters for the development and presentation of at least one such baseline scheme. It is the scheme by which many Renton Library Patrons, Residents and Voters rightfully expect to judge all alternatives.

KCLS long ago lost any right to simply dismiss such a scheme with nothing but words and the wave of a hand.

David A. Keyes
On behalf of Citizens to Save Cedar River Library…Again!

Sara M. DuBois April 12, 2013 at 10:56 AM
Well put, David Keyes, well written. I sincerely hope that Renton's Mayor Law and the City Council are considering all that Mr. Keyes has stated, remembering that their constituents here in Renton are the most important ones to continue considering. That KCLS's Board of Trustees is only secondary to we citizens, because we arw the ones that must ultimately be satisfied with the results of these alternative plans.
Richard Bray April 12, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Great letter David! As you said we expect that a reasonable priced, full size library basic design will be among the ones and that KCLS will present on Monday. Residents expect to be treated with respect by KCLS.


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