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Letter To The Editor: Citizens Sold Down The River Over Library Location

Submit your own letter to the editor via email: jenny.manning@patch.com. Please include your first and last name and city of residence.

There are two rivers involved in this mess with the library. The one that runs under it and the one we are being sold down. KCLS, and whoever in our city government is in cahoots with them, is doing us dirty.

When some of us originally voted to join the county system, we thought that an upgrade of some sort for our surroundings, as well as more books and other resources, would result. We did not know, could not have known, that the powers that be would up and decide to cram us into a drastically smaller building, when so many other districts are getting bigger ones. There was never a word about that. Nor did they even let us choose the site--we, the people most directly affected.

I don't see how in the world we can stuff the books and computers we have--not to mention those I hope we will acquire in the future--into only 2/3 of the present space.  The open spaces and no-longer-needed processing area that I see now don't look anywhere near as big as what we would lose if we move into a smaller building.

Not all of us can do all our web-surfing at home.  Some patrons don't even have a home to do their online job hunting from.  Nor can all of us afford the Kindles and other electronic gadgets that some people think will replace regular books. We still need books on the shelf--here, not in some distant warehouse where fetching them will use up more manpower and gas. We still like to browse in the stacks, not in a catalog.  And since some of us have disabilities that limit computer use, we need reference books and magazines in hardcopy.  Why should we have to go to Kent or Burien or Bellevue for that?

What's behind this move to skeletonize such a vital resource?  If there's room for only so many books, who gets to decide which ones will remain--and why?

Is some radical change in the weeding process coming next, and whose agenda will that serve?  Has anyone given any thought to that?

A community study from 2011 told me that people from Fairwood and Skyway
like to come and use our library.  How eager will they be to do so, and then spend their money on Renton businesses, if what awaits them is a diminished, undistinguished library where parking will be a hassle with everyone downtown contending for spaces, and constantly having to worry about the meter?

When you get your ballots, people, read the statements with care, especially the rebuttal to statement in favor of "Over the Cedar River". If it implies that voting for the Piazza site will result in 37,000 square feet of space, that means a needed editing didn't get done for the original version that Randy Corman's blog revealed to us.  That does not mean twice as much library, it means that the existing building will be empty, with no plans solidified for its future and no money in hand to make them happen.  Any envisioned repurposing of it is likely to cost just as much or more then upgrading it as a library.  Take a good look
also at Corman's blog entry for the 18th, dissecting KCLS's July 2 letter to voters--it will curl your hair.

For all this talk about revitalization of downtown--and it will take a lot more than a library to do that--I get the impression that the people in charge aren't really all that concerned with the needs of patrons--the people who pay their wages, the people who libraries are for.

They need to start listening. And first theing we need to do to make them listen is to vote to keep our wonderful library right where it is.

Kerrick Mainrender
Renton, WA

Melissa Farmin July 20, 2012 at 03:55 AM
The Renton Reporter was started by the Mayor and I've never seen them take a position that was different from his.
Bill July 20, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Kerrick's letter points out a glaring misconception about the original annexation vote. Prior to attending the public meeting I researched the agreement with KCLS and the original ballot measure. While I felt the agreement between the City and KCLS was somewhat ambiguous the voter's pamphlet cleared it up for me. In the rebuttal to the statement in favor of the annexation, the opponents clearly stated that there would be 2 new buildings. Even if the official language wasn't clear there was nothing ambiguous about it. Whether we should have, or not, voted to annex is now moot. The voters had the opportunity to inform themselves...if they cared. It is our responsibility as voters to be informed. Obviously, the information was available.
Stuart Avery July 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Your oberservatons are correct about the annexation wording. Like many who voted they were confused like you are now. The two new buildings it refers to are two new LIBRARIES, one in the highlands and one downtown. It was not referring to a "repurposed" Cedar River library building in addition. In essence the city is looking at asking Renton to pay for THREE new major construction projects. A new downtown library, a new highlands library, and if we move to the West of Piazza site, a third reconstruction which is referred to as a "repurposed" Cedar River building for "alternate public use". The repurpose project is in ADDITION to the funding and construction of the required to fulfill the annexation obligations. I hope this clarifies it.
Bill July 20, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I'm not confused. Clearly, the annexation opponents realized that the downtown library would move away from the Cedar River if the annexation passed. With that understanding, I think it's unfair to link the costs of the "re-purposing" in with the overall costs of the library projects. We voted for two new libraries. The existing structure remains a City asset that the City is obliged to maintain like all the other properties the City owns regardless of what their original use was. Don't misunderstand me. I was against the annexation and I'm not yet a huge fan of the new library. I'd just prefer that discussions revolve around facts and options, not interpretations and manipulation of facts.
Melissa Farmin July 21, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Bill - If annexation automatically meant that the library would move then why was the current location included in the site survey? The whole thing is shady. I think it is absolutely appropriate to include re-purposing and ongoing costs to the total. The pro-Piazza group is using "we will still have the Cedar River building" as a justification for moving. There's no budget for ongoing operations and maintainence. If the building is remodeled the existing construction bonds would be used and ongoing costs would be covered by our KCLS taxes.

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