Mayor Urges Council To Stay The Course

Mayor: Council's vote to build a new library in the center of our downtown was one of those tough decisions that will prove to be a major catalyst for more business development and the revitalization.

The Citizens for the Preservation of the Cedar River Library face an uphill battle as the group prepares for its 6 p.m. rally and 7 p.m. Renton City Council meeting on Monday, April 2.

  • The Mayor has urged Council to stay the course (see letter below),
  • City Administrator Jay Covington issued a recommendation to Council to decline to place the Library Initiative on the ballot (click on the PDF thumbnail to the right),
  • King County Library System asked City government to honor the voter’s 2009 decision to annex to the KCLS system (click on the PDF thumbnail to the right) otherwise KCLS will "consider approval of the proposed petition to be a breach of the Interlocal Agreement," and
  • The Renton Chamber of Commerce has urged its Board of Directors and Downtown Committee to attend Monday’s meeting in support of city staff recommendations on the library petition issue. 

However, the petitioners are not without allies.

  • Longtime Renton City Council member Randy Corman stated in a recent blog post that his preference would be to keep the downtown library over the Cedar River,
  • Council member Marci Palmer has continually stated that she’s against the library move, and
  • and creating blogs in support of the petition process, including:


In an email dated March 30, 2012, Renton Mayor Denis Law urged Council to deny the petition:

Dear Council,

Based on comments we’ve read in the newspaper, it’s likely you’ll be having some discussions this next week regarding the local initiative. It made me reflect on some other projects this city has undertaken in past years, and most of them generated some public opposition.

It’s a rare occasion when a city council makes a major decision without some public opposition. Spending tax dollars for new projects, even during a strong economy, often generates criticism and protest from some citizens. And while we always welcome public input, you can pretty much predict that the final decision by the council will not please everyone.

When the city decided to demolish the Carnegie Library and build a new structure over the Cedar River, many residents protested for a number of reasons. They loved their library and felt it was serving the public well and didn’t want the historic building torn down. Some didn’t want to spend the money to build a new facility and others thought it was stupid to build it over the river. But the Council felt Renton needed a larger library facility to serve the public and moved forward with the plan.

When voters said no to purchase the Maplewood Golf Course, the Council agreed with the administration’s recommendation that the purchase would not only be a valuable public amenity for years to come, but was necessary protect the city’s aquifer from potential contaminants. The Council agreed and the golf course was purchased. Despite some opposition, this proved to be a very wise decision.

When the city decided it had outgrown city hall on Mill Street, there were those who felt it was a waste of tax dollars to purchase the current building on Grady Way, which some critics stating this was an unnecessary taj mahal. This was after voters twice turned down the construction of a new public safety building. But the Council felt this was a prudent investment for the future and moved forward.

When the city decided to purchase property in the downtown for a park and public garage, and to spend a good deal of money rebuilding the Pavilion facility, many people felt this was a waste of money, especially since the downtown was perceived as “dead” and “unsafe.” The council had a vision for the area and moved forward with the investment to correspond with the private development of multi-family housing as part of its commitment to revitalize the downtown.

Nearly 45% of Renton voters opposed a bond issue to build a new aquatic center despite information that the Henry Moses pool was leaking tens of thousands of gallons of water each day. With enough money in the year-end fund balance, the council opted to move forward with the pool. This not only raised criticism from those opposed to spending public money on this amenity, others voiced opposition to moving the pool from its historical location in Liberty Park where generations of kids learned to swim. The Council determined that this was the right decision for the city and moved forward with the construction. We all know what a great decision this was for our community.

Not everyone will agree with the decisions made by the city council. But overall, our citizens expect public officials to weigh all of the pros and cons and to make tough decisions that will benefit the community for years to come. Your vote to build a new library in the center of our downtown was one of those tough decisions that will prove to be a major catalyst for more business development and the revitalization that has been a goal of this city for many years.

Mayor, City of Renton


Beth Asher April 02, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Hi Bill - according to the City's own figures in the Renton Library Master Plan the cost to remodel would be less - it was called out at $845,000.00 including planning and permitting - than a costly move and new build of 9 million.
Beth Asher April 02, 2012 at 05:51 AM
The City has already got one costly failed attempt at revitalization downtown - the Piazza. Except for the Farmer's Market and a couple of other events the building sits empty all year. Why not open that up, sponsor art exhibits, craft shows, intimate civic theater performances, etc. to get people downtown? People don't go to a library to spend money. They go because it's free entertainment, or because they're doing research, or need online facilities. None of these things is conducive to shopping and spending. You go in, get your books or other materials, use the facilities, and leave. I do understand that the downtown merchants are suffering, especially because the City chose to spend money on infrastructure at the Landing which has taken trade away from the 3rd avenue merchants. But, I don't think moving the library is the "magic bullet". Why not admit that the retail corridors have moved - to Rainier Ave., Grady Way, the Landing, Sunset and Cemetery road - and develop something new and vital in the 3rd Street corridor?
Renate Beedon April 02, 2012 at 08:39 AM
Rich, are you saying that bringing the library into the old Big 5 Building will reduce the number of homeless folks? Or are you saying they will move and then your heart won't have to be broken anymore because you don't have to see them?
Renate Beedon April 02, 2012 at 08:40 AM
Maybe a homeless shelter can be built in the place the mayor and his friends want to put the library? Now, I'd go for that!!
Kat Smith April 03, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Blah blah blah , politics politics politics. Does anyone know how bad the crime rate is down there???? And how much of that crime is not even reported. Drug dealers , thugs . Many coming in from Seattle on the buses. If I had a kid, I would not let him go to the "new" library or anywhere NEAR the bus depot down there!!


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