A citizen's group that spearheaded last year's referendum to preserve the Renton Cedar River Library is calling on residents to protest King County Library System (KCLS) proposals at a March 19 board meeting that would significantly reduce the size and entrance of the library.
Citizens to Save Renton’s Cedar River Library Again! announced it will hold a protest beginning at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 at the Newcastle Library (12901 Newcastle Way, Newcastle) to protest the current KCLS library design that takes away Renton’s iconic Library Entrance over the Cedar River, shrinks library size by 31 percent and by including unnecessary demolition over the River, creates unnecessary potential for environmental damage while subjecting the project to extensive and costly review. Then protesters say they plan to file inside and use the meeting's public comment time to air their concerns directly to the board.
“KCLS isn’t giving Renton residents choices in the library design. They have arrogantly failed to listen what 76 percent of Renton voters and people said at library design meetings to keep the Library Entrance over the Cedar River and to not reduce our spacious library,” said Beth Asher, spokesperson of Citizens to Save Renton’s Cedar River Library Again!
"This single design is one that is radically different from what our community wants. It subjects Renton residents to significant risk," said David Keyes, architect and member of the Renton citizens’ group.
The citizens group complains that a proposed design offered last month proposed an "unnecessary" demolition for over 4,000 square-feet of concrete floor deck and structure spanning a protected salmon-bearing river, thereby threatening the environment. The proposed changes, say protest organizers, would also threaten Renton taxpayers with much higher project cost and could delay the renovation altogether.
"It's a blatant attempt to make the possible (renovation) impossible," said Asher.
The group plans to ask the KCLS Trustees to recognize Renton Citizens concern and exercise immediate oversight over the KCLS Director and Staff, which a news release from the citizen's group said should be told to "back off confrontational tactics and current design direction."
Meanwhile, a Citizens to Save Renton's Cedar River Library committee has formed to advocate for De-Annexation of Renton Libraries from KCLS.
King County Library System facilities director Greg Smith told KOMO several weeks ago that no firm plans have been issued for the redesign. But conceptual ideas will be revealed to the public at a meeting on Tuesday, March 26, (6:30p.m.) in the library.
"We have not issued any plans other than some engineering difficulties with the project," Smith said. "We have shown some conceptual ideas but we have not issued any plans."
Building standards now are much different than when the library was built -- environmentally and seismically, for example -- and present engineering issues, he noted.
Architects Miller-Hull told the board at a meeting in January that soil constraints and seismic issues must be addressed to obtain required permits, which are prompting many of the suggested changes.
"We have to put some pilings on the ground to help support it and we have to stay out of the flood plain," Smith told KOMO.
He noted that the building is basically a bridge over the river, and to meet environmental standards the entrance might best be moved and some space lost. But he said reducing staff space in the 20,000 square feet building could allow public space to stay at its current level.
Bray said members of Save the Cedar River Library want the library redesigned the way residents have urged. "We are asking the city council again to stand up and do what Renton residents have asked for," he said.
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