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Letter: Renton Library Project Needs Constructive Dialog

Renton resident Dan Hemenway sounds off about the ongoing discussions about the replacement of the Cedar River Library.

To the Editor:

I usually do not like dealing on the hard edge, preferring a more considered approach. However, after just getting back from a 16-hour trip from the other side of GMT and being up for an untold number of hours, I perhaps did not take too well to what I felt was being force-fed “The Kool-Aid.” From the audience reaction, I was far from alone.

The presentation came across as “Ok, you forced us to abandon moving the library. We’ll fix you by jackhammering your precious Cedar River Library down to the bridge deck, haul it off to a landfill, and replace it with something that is about 70% of what you have now.” What reception is the City and KCLS expecting other than what they got from the majority of those in the audience and will get from library supporters and City of Renton citizens at large?

To another point, “How often do you visit the library???” is not a relevant question. I have never visited the city jail but take comfort it is professionally run. (When I learned they were going to set off a percussion grenade for the Citizens Police Academy, I skipped that field trip…)

I believe what I am reading and experiencing is a wholly inappropriate, arrogant, and vengeful attitude from those with a mostly hidden agenda towards those who believe a city library is part of the heart and soul of a vibrant community.

I am not seeing a dialog that is as constructive and transparent as it needs, should, and is expected to be. I have not seen it in the past and I’m not seeing it now.

Thank You,

Dan Hemenway

Sara M. DuBois February 23, 2013 at 06:01 PM
To Mr. Dan Hemenway . . . I couldn't agree more! It certainly seem to me that the City of Renton's mayor and council, and the KCLS library system's management is trying as hard as it can to discourage the citizens of Renton to use the library. We already spoke to this issue last fall when we voted for the Cedar River Library to stay over the river. Everythng that Dan Hemenway points out here is accurate. Looks like the citizens of Renton need to fight once agan to get our desires met.
Dana Rochex February 23, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Being a designer I am generally open to change. However, an old adage comes to mind "don't throw the baby out with the bath water" and that is precisely what KCLS is doing. One of the most distressing elements is the relocation of the entry. Originally designed as an elegant solution to unite the two halves of the city and encourage visitors to engage with our beloved cedar river. The new design turns it's back on this vision. Metaphorically, cutting off north Renton and liberty park. We need to encourage connections, not destroy them.
Sara M. DuBois February 23, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Great point Dana, and I agree fully with that, too. I love the fact that we can look out over the river whenever we go into and come out of the Cedar River Library (I do every time we go there), and that it connects to Liberty Park and the Carco Park, too. That is absolutely right . . . we need to encourage connections. Apparently the City of Renton and KCLS management do NOT share our vision, because they have been doing battle with those of us who have that same vision. I can not understand their motivation at all. As you may already know, there is to be a meeting at Luther Table tomorrow between 2 and 5 PM on this very subject of voting for our vision, once again.
Kevin Fullen February 24, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Amen! It's time for some new "blood" if you will for the Renton City Council and the mayor's office. Hidden agendas for all and if it's not in their best interest why should they care? I will point out the City or KCLS don't have to try hard to discourage people from using the library. I understand it's a public space and all residents are allowed to use the library; however that being said, lately it's become dressing room, bathhouse, storage place, for the homeless. I know that last statement is going to strike a few nerves but it's true. I would love to use my "local" library instead of driving to Bellevue Regional KCL or Newcastle. I would like to see a new design of the library in the its existing location. Why not gut it and build up into a more modern "green" library with more study tables, study table cubes, study rooms, and quiet areas. Lots of windows to capture the trees, sunlight (when there is some) and the river.
Ray DuBois February 24, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Maybe the mayor and city council are discouraging people from voting for them next election? The people have spoken yet are being ignored. I hope this issue is kept alive till election time so it remains in the minds of the voters.
D. Charles February 24, 2013 at 03:29 AM
I have received many e-mails as a result of the Renton Reporter article and my Letter to the Editor, reprinted on the Patch. I thank you all for your kind words. All the e-mails I have received support the position I and many others feel City Hall continues to not just ignore but take positions in direct opposition to the wishes of the actively involved library supporters and the 94,000 citizens of the City of Renton at large. It was City of Renton officials, not KCLS, presenting this jackhammering plan as a done deal. It’s therefore clear a large part of the problem resides in our own City of Renton City Hall. A Council resolution de-funding all efforts to move the Cedar River library, tear it down, change the footprint, move the entrance, or meet or trigger wildly unnecessary code requirements would be a magnanimous start to repair the damage between the City of Renton City Hall and the 94,000 citizens of Renton. Thank You, Dan Hemenway
Question Mark February 24, 2013 at 04:28 AM
After the Cedar River Library vote last August, some supporters of the Piazza location surmised that the vote turned out the way it did because of low turnout and little understanding of costs. However, this seriously understates the strength of the citizens' vote to retain the library at the Cedar River location. Let's look at the numbers: 12,238 Renton citizens voted to retain the library over the Cedar River. As a comparison, in November 2011, 13,748 citizens voted to re-elect Denis Law as Mayor, while only 10,238 voted to elect Don Persson to his current Council position, and even fewer -- 8,335 -- voted to elect Ed Prince to his current Council position. The Mayor, Council and in particular the King County Library System should be very careful to the extent that their deafness to the wishes of the citizens of Renton edges toward disenfranchisement. Best, --Mark

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