Renton has always had difficulty choosing sites for libraries. No one could agree on the site for Renton's first Carnegie Library; most wanted it close to the downtown, but the cost of land was an issue until Ignazio Sartori donated land in what was then-distant North Renton. As early as the 1930s Renton's population had outgrown the beloved Carnegie Library, but again heated debate about cost and location pushed back the decision 30 years. A generation of Renton kids made do with the inadequate Carnegie Library in the 1940s, 1950s, and half of the 1960s, while their parents failed to decide on new construction. It was finally the vision of a new civic complex on the river that convinced them.
The civic complex around the current library never materialized, reading and researching habits have undergone a sea change, and once again Renton readers are locked in debate about a site for the library. KCLS, the finest library system in the country, has respectfully pointed out the ways in which the current building is unsuitable for current and future library needs. Estimates suggest that new library construction is at least $1 - 4 million less expensive than renovation, and would result in minimal disruption to library services. A downtown library would be convenient to high school students, public transit, and other businesses, who are welcoming increased foot traffic and amenities in the city's core.
Around the country library buildings have been successfully repurposed for other uses. The Renton City Council has pledged that the building will remain in public use, and a , a purpose even more ideally suited to its location on the Cedar River.
If we vote for a new library at the Piazza, generations of children will be able to remember both their experiences learning about the natural worldand using a downtown library designed for today's readers and learners. They shouldn't have to wait for the best possible library services for another 30 years. Renton deserves the bigger vision represented by the Piazza Library, and the time to make it happen is now.
North Renton home-owner