Library supporters submit signatures they hope will validate petition

Renton volunteers last weekend gathered enough petition signatures, they hope, to keep the downtown Renton library over the Cedar River.

The volunteers collected 2,108 signatures; after they initially submitted petitions to the City of Renton, they were 1,442 signatures short of the 6,375 needed to validate the petition.

The new signatures were submitted to City Clerk Bonnie Walton Monday. She anticipates that it will take up to 10 days from then for the King County Elections Office to verify the signatures.

The group, the Citizens for the Preservation of Renton’s Cedar River Library, was given another 10 days from March 2 to collect the signatures after they came up short. The petition asks that any library improvements for a downtown library must occur at the existing library location and not at any other location unless the alternate proposed location is approved by a simple majority vote of Renton voters.

The volunteers met up at the downtown library during the weekend and headed out to canvass area neighborhoods.

"I'm tired," said Stuart Avery, the group's spokesperson. "It's been a long haul, but I feel kind of giddy-good."

Avery called it "heart-warming" to see the kind of passion he saw in volunteers eager to help collect signatures in some of the most horrible weather conditions of late. "We were able to accomplish in 10 days what I think we accomplished in two months," Avery said of signature gathering this time around.

A major problem with the first petition signatures was that almost 900 signatures were invalid because the signers did not live in Renton.This past weekend Avery used a city map of incorporated Renton and its voter precincts to dispatch volunteers out to neighborhoods.

"The biggest challenge was finding people at home," said volunteer Richard Bray.

Bray headed out to neighborhoods with his wife Jeri and children Mary, Michael and Nicholas. "So many people did not know that the library is going to be moved," said Bray. Avery submitted the 2,108 signatures to Walton on Monday afternoon, in time to meet a 5 p.m. deadline.

The citizens group will wait and see if their hard work paid off and if their additional signatures are validated before they decide how to address Renton City Council, Avery said. Even if they don't have enough signatures validated, Avery said they still will ask the city to honor and embrace the idea of keeping the downtown library where it is currently.


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