UPDATED: Following Public Outcry, Council Re-Visits Possibility Of Placing Library Location On The Ballot

City Council is "committed to exploring our options, both legal and otherwise, to determine if there is a way we can bring this to a vote of the people."

*Editor's Note: Information provided by the City of Renton in an email sent at 4:58 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3. Patch immediately attempted to reach the listed contacts for clarification of the statements in the press release; however, they were unavailable. The City has since contacted Patch to clarify the issue, which resulted in the original headline being changed from "Following Public Outcry, Council Re-Visits Possibility Of Placing Initiative Location On The Ballot" to "Following Public Outcry, Council Re-Visits Possibility Of Placing Library Location On The Ballot." Patch regrets any confusion this may have caused.

, the City of Renton has changed its tune and is now open to exploring new options to determine if it can bring the location of the library to a vote of the people.

The Renton . The petition would require that any improvements for a downtown library must occur at the existing library location and not at any other location, unless the alternative proposed location for a downtown library is approved by a simple majority vote of Renton voters.

"The council took action last night to address a citizen petition that is invalid due to a number of legal requirements, and fails to address contractual agreements that we've had in place for some time," said Mayor Denis Law. "Nonetheless, a good number of Renton citizens have expressed their desire to have an opportunity to vote on where the downtown library will be located, and it's never been the intent of the council to ignore public opinion. We're going to explore some options with the council to see if we can meet our obligations while also providing our residents with an opportunity to vote on the issue."

In February 2010, Renton voters approved the annexation to the King County Library System (KCLS). A condition of that annexation included the construction by Renton of "replacement facilities for both the Main and Highlands Libraries on other properties within the city..." Subsequent to the annexation, the city completed for both the Highlands and Downtown library, and in May 2011 issued $18 million in bonds to finance the construction of both libraries.

In that obligated the city to fund the site acquisition, design, construction and other related costs for both new library facilities at the Big 5 site downtown and the Sunset Boulevard site in the Highlands. and work is currently underway at both sites.

"In my opinion the initiative placed before us was invalid," said Council President Rich Zwicker. "Those of us on the council who voted to concur with the did what we had to do. That said we are sensitive to the public concern about our library. I am committed to exploring our options, both legal and otherwise, to determine if there is a way we can bring this to a vote of the people."



Christina C April 04, 2012 at 05:45 AM
What hasn't been said in all this talk about a new library is the effect it will have on families. I am a mother of two toddlers. Each week we attend library story time, watch the Cedar River from the bridge and play in the Liberty Park playground. All without crossing a single street. Now the city wants me to park in a parking garage, walk by a crime-ridden transit center and cross a busy street to get to the library. Don't make me and my children a test case for making a problematic city center safer. Don’t take a serene location children love and push them to a location surrounded by concrete and crime. King Parker emerges from retirement to urge the city council to reject the initiative. Is King Parker going to be there to insure my young children's safety at the Big 5 location? Is he going to insure we don't get hit by a stray bullet? I’m appalled at the arrogance, disrespect and disregard shown by Denis Law, Rich Zwicker, Terri Briere, Ed Prince and Don Persson. They took the cowardly way out – voting to take away a beautiful amenity from my children and from our future in this city. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. I'm a Renton homeowner. My kids have yet to enter the Renton school system. There's still time for us to move to a place where safety comes before commerce and the wishes of the voters are respected.
Phyllis Forister April 04, 2012 at 06:08 AM
Four Council members have set themselves above the law of the the land....our Constitution by denying the validated citizen initiative.
Stuart Avery April 04, 2012 at 07:34 AM
I am thrilled with the cities effort to re-visit and get this on the ballot. I am hopeful this process will allow all residents to weigh facts and consider all costs both short term and long term, and determine for themselves what they would be most satisfied with in the end.
Richard Bray April 04, 2012 at 05:55 PM
It's encouraging to hear that the Mayor and council members who decided against having residents vote on our Library are now reconsidering their decision. Thank you for doing this.
Dave Beedon April 05, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Dear Editor, Some clarification would help this confused reader. Is the press release mentioned in the article the same one as shown on the city's website at http://www.ci.renton.wa.us/news/default.aspx?id=31870 ? (That release is titled "Renton to Explore Options for Public Participation in Library Site Selection Process," which is different from the title quoted in the article.) If it is a different press release, then it would be helpful to know who sent the e-mail press release to Renton Patch, who the contacts are, what the full text of the message is, and whether the message went to anyone else. I look forward to any clarification you can offer. Thank you.
Jenny Manning April 05, 2012 at 11:53 AM
Dave, Yes, the press release mentioned in this article is the same one shown on the City's web site. A text-only version of the news release arrived via email from RentonNews@rentonwa.gov on Tue., April 3, 2012 at 4:47 p.m.; the PDF version was sent by the same email address at Tue., April 3, 2012 at 4:58 p.m. the PDF version, which includes the full text of the news release, is now available on this post (click the PFD file below the image above). I'm unable to see who else received the email notice. I created a new title and added the Editor's Note and first paragraph for additional clarification. Please let me know if you have additional questions regarding the news release.
@rcwant2be April 05, 2012 at 04:32 PM
@christina I use the "crime-ridden" transit center at least twice a day Monday - Friday for the last nearly 5 years & I've never witnessed or been victim to a crime. If you park in the garage & walk to the Big 5 location, you are crossing Burnett & a bus lane in the transit center. Neither are busy & the cross walk across Burnett is very well marked with flashing lights in roadway that are activated as someone crosses. There's a daycare directly across Burnett from that crosswalk & transit center that always looks busy to me. I see the teachers & kids out & about quite a bit. They (& their parents) apparently have no fear of the transit center. I wish everyone who slams on the transit center would utilize it a few times to see what a great asset it is.
Christina C April 05, 2012 at 11:34 PM
@rcwant2be do you have kids? This isn't about "fear." It's about doing what's better for children. That's great that you use the transit center, but don't force me to lug strollers and kids up and down ramps and elevators past buses when they can run free now on green grass and watch salmon. As far as never witnessing crime yourself, you're lucky. All one has to do is read the Renton crime blotter and police reports to see that crime is extremely common there. Don't accuse me of slamming the transit center, I'm sure it's a great asset to commuters, just not to moms and kids who have a great library at the Cedar River. Re-read my letter.
@rcwant2be April 06, 2012 at 08:57 PM
@christina I've read your post. You mention a "crime-ridden" transit center & crossing a busy street to get from the parking garage to the library but in my use of the transit center, I don't know what street you are referring to. That to me is a negative opinion aka "slamming". Do I have kids? That depends on what counts as having kids. I've had custody of my teenage brother for nearly 2 years. When I have small children, I'll be wearing them, not fumbling with a stroller. I frequent the Renton Farmer's Market & see plenty of kids there, walking the market with their families (or riding in strollers), in the kids tent, or playing in the Piazza fountain. I guess your kids have never come across the loiterers that I have while crossing the grassy park by the current library. Speaking of the teenage brother, the first time I walked with him to the current library, guess what he noticed, before me. People sleeping under the Houser Way bridge. Frankly, I don't plan on being one to let my kids "run free" across grassy open areas with no fence between them & busy streets. A vibrant city has an abundance of public treasures for its residents. Libraries, parks, urban parks (the Piazza), transit, shopping. Putting all these things in a walkable downtown core gets 2 big thumbs up from me.


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