The KCLS Open House was a farce last night! First, KCLS Director Bill Ptacek announced that they would do their presentation and then "allow" the estimated 200 attendees to seek information and give their "input" at four different stations spread out through the library, rather than allowing for full group questions and answers.
When the people immediately objected to his format--quite loudly, Ptacek refused to modify this format in any meaningful way. His absolute refusal to address audience concerns on this issue ruptured any patience or trust that many in the audience had been prepared to display. From that point on, much of the initial presentation was interrupted by loud questions from audience members as it became abundantly clear KCLS was only prepared to repeat its previous rationales and self-lauditory statements. As in all KCLS presentations to date, he went on with his own show.
Mr. Ptacek wasted the first 12 minutes in introduction without providing new information. His staff presented KCLS 3-year old rational for a small downtown Renton Library based not on preferences or needs of Renton Citizens but on KCLS's separate logic of Service Area Projections (These projections are broadly based on a wide and disparate service area including outlying Newcastle, Skyway, Fairwood and portions of Kent. Disparities in geographic barriers — such as hills/valleys, travel distances and transportation routes are ignored. No consideration was given to the fact these outlying locations are not easily accessed by Renton citizens).
Ms. Balaiko of Miller-Hull, the architectural firm commissioned to lead KCLS design team presented a chart indicating allocation of the reduced construction budget among necessary seismic, energy upgrades and replacement of unmaintained building systems. The portion of construction budget available for visible architectural upgrades was obviously small if the allocation shown is accepted. Audience members had to interrupt to point out that alternatives to the allocation itself should be presented and discussed publicly.
Continuing, Ms. Balaiko made reference to "three" alternatives. However, it was clear KCLS was only prepared to present in detail the 15,400 sf. design recently submitted to the City for Land Use (and environmental) Review (This plan demolishes 5,000+ sf of structural deck above the River and was formally declined for review Intake by the City, yesterday prior to this evening presentation). Audience members were forced to interrupt repeatedly in order to clarify what the alternatives had been, both in budget and design.
KCLS presenters repeatedly began their comments and answers with statements such as “We’ve heard you” or "We totally get that". In the end, KCLS's presentation and answers provided invariably returned to the sole alternative with their contention a greatly reduced size was their only option, given KCLS budget calculations. In return, the audience repeatedly asked WHY a schematic alternative indicating full use of the existing Library footprint (together with the present entry) was NOT studied and presented in the same detail, as this direction has been the overwhelming focus of public comments given KCLS over the past months!
When Ptacek announced it was time to disperse to separated stations to give input, over 60 percent of the audience said "NO", remained in the main seating area. No attempt was made to interfere with others wishing to attend the stations.
After Renton Councilman Ed Prince intervened with Mr. Ptacek, KCLS did re-gather people and took some questions but little time remained, either for residents' questions or for follow-up discussion of the answers made.
Almost immediately, KCLS Facilities Director Greg Smith claimed insult and refused to answer Audience questions regarding "Project" or "soft" Costs estimated by himself and his staff. He refused to answer questions posed by Mr. Paul Ouellette regarding Smith's own estimates and invoices for consultant Additional Services that appear to exceed State guidelines by a wide margin.
(Ed. Note: David Keyes, Beth Asher, Richard Bray are all affiliated with the citizen's group "Citizens to Save the Cedar River Library, Again!".)