Citizens for a Cedar River Library won a decisive victory after election results showed 76 percent of voters (6,903 votes in early returns) want to keep the library at its current location above the Cedar River in Renton.
The Piazza location received nearly 24 percent of the vote, or 2,164 votes, in the first round of election results.
In a phone interview, Renton mayor Denis Law said: "It's my expectation that we will move forward with the Cedar River (location). We will meet with King County Library System to see what we can do that meets their needs for the least financial impact to the taxpayers."
A spokesperson for the King County Library System declined comment, saying the issue rests with the city.
Tuesday night, volunteers and supporters for both sides gathered to watch the initial election results. The Piazza group gathered for a private party at an unknown location while the Cedar River group gathered at the home of Marcie and Gary Palmer.
"When something doesn't make sense, it's not going to make sense to the community, and it shows tonight," said Stuart Avery, spokesperson for Citizens for the Cedar River Library. "Our city administration and City Council need to change course and get behind the people."
Avery says the Piazza library location was not the solution to downtown revitalization. He said his group is willing to work with retailers in the downtown core to find a better solution.
In 2010, Renton citizens voted to annex with King County Library System 50.21% to 49.79%. The annexation required the city of Renton to fund and construct two new libraries to replace Renton’s two existing libraries -- downtown and Highlands.
The City Council approved $19 million in bonds to fund land acquisition and construction costs for both new libraries. Initially, the city proposed to relocate the new downtown library and purchased the property west of the downtown Piazza formerly occupied by the Big 5 Sports retailer.
Then a grass-roots effort started by Citizens for Cedar River began working to stop it. The group believed cost and history dictated that the library should stay in place.
The group collected more than 6,800 signatures to create a ballot measure for the voters to decide whether to keep the Cedar River location or keep the Piazza location.
Piazza location supporters countered that the new site costs less then a Cedar River location over the long haul. According to the group: "The construction window for work to be done in and over the water is only six weeks per year due to salmon spawning and salmon runs."
The expense of restoring a building flanking a river didn't make sense, the group concluded.
Election results will not be official until Aug. 21 when the Canvassing Board convenes to certify final election results. Updated election numbers will be released Monday-Friday at 4:30 p.m. via the county website.
Election Results (as of Tuesday, August 7 at 8:15 pm)
City of Renton Prop No. 1 (9444 of 44400 registered voters)
Cedar River 76.13 percent or 6903 votes
West of the Piazza 23.87 percent or 2164 votes