The King County Library System recently mailed out a letter to Renton homeowners; to share information they have received from an independent firm they contracted with to help establish an estimate for what it will cost taxpayers to rebuild the existing library over the Cedar River. As predicted, the cost to duplicate what the city council authorized to be built at the former BIG 5 site will be several million dollars more, which taxpayers would likely be required to pay.
Some supporters of retaining the library over the river are already challenging this report and the credibility of KCLS staff in regards to their warnings that the Cedar River site is not optimum for a new library facility for a multitude of reasons. Meanwhile, we’re hearing unsupported comments that the site near the Piazza will have fewer parking spots available (there are dozens of parking spaces on the street, 40 slots at site, and a six floor parking garage within feet of the proposed new library), and that the area is unsafe, despite the fact that the city now has more than 20 police officers stationed in the parking garage.
There is no question that the existing library over the river is special for any public amenity. But it’s important for voters to understand a few facts while selected the best spot. The new location near the Piazza will:
- Save millions in taxpayer dollars. We are obligated to build a state-of-the-art library regardless of the location. Remodeling over the river will cost a lot more.
- Provide a significant boost to the revitalization of the downtown, attracting new businesses while supporting those already in the area. This has been a goal of the city for decades. I have been in the retail business for many years and I can tell you that this will be a real asset to downtown businesses!
- Allow hundreds of citizens that travel by bus to have close access to the facility.
- Meet KCLS’ stated needs in providing a state-of-the-art library, which they don’t believe is possible over the Cedar River.
- The exiting library will become another popular public amenity for our residents to enjoy.
The issue regarding the selection of a site for a new downtown library has been confusing, and it’s understandable that many people have a personal connection with the river location. Much of the confusion has been fueled by misinformation. And it’s disheartening to me that Randy Corman and Greg Taylor, who joined all of the council members, with the exception of Marcie Palmer, to encourage citizens to join KCLS, purchase the former BIG 5 site, spend money in designing a new library at that location, are now leading the opposition to the downtown site.
I’ll tell you folks, building a new library on the former BIG 5 site would be a Whammer Deal! We have a great opportunity to make a huge investment in our downtown revitalization effort, provide a top-notch library accessible to everyone and refurbish the existing building over the river into a public amenity that will serve our citizens and others in the region.
—King Parker, Renton