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Renton City Council commits to Cedar River library

Sandra Polley of Renton writes down her idea for the design of the new Cedar River library Tuesday night, during an open house at City Hall attended by about 50 people. Attendees offered city officials manning differing stations their ideas about the Cedar and Highlands libraries and raised questions they want answered as the city and the King County Library System move forward on the new libraries. - Dean A. Radford/Renton Reporter
Sandra Polley of Renton writes down her idea for the design of the new Cedar River library Tuesday night, during an open house at City Hall attended by about 50 people. Attendees offered city officials manning differing stations their ideas about the Cedar and Highlands libraries and raised questions they want answered as the city and the King County Library System move forward on the new libraries.
— image credit: Dean A. Radford/Renton Reporter

The Renton City Council established its commitment to renovating the downtown library over the Cedar River and adopted guiding principles for the city's relationship with the King County Library System.

The council unanimously adopted nine principles presented in the Committee of the Whole meeting during its regular session Monday night.

Peter Renner, the city's facilities director, and Chip Vincent, the community and economic development administrator, took turns laying out the City of Renton's stance on the interlocal agreement with KCLS, the budget for the libraries, design process and citizen communications for the Cedar River library and the new Highlands branch.

"We discussed ideas of establishing some parameters that at a very high level provide general guidance for the council, community and the staff as we advance the two libraries here for the City of Renton," said Vincent.

The Committee of the Whole meeting featured an extensive briefing on the design of the Cedar River library and the Highlands library and the guiding principles.

The guidelines spell out the city's and KCLS' commitment to building the libraries once again in the Highlands and now over the Cedar River.

Under the guidelines:

• The projects will stay within budget.

• KCLS' leadership in the design and construction role for the libraries is reaffirmed.

• Two City of Renton department will facilitate and support KCLS in design and construction and also obtaining the necessary permits for the project.

• The city and KCLS will provide open houses and presentations as outlined in the interlocal agreement and receive feedback from Renton residents and post information on the city's and KCLS' websites

• The city will include concepts and programming elements desired by the public and ultimately the city and KCLS will jointly select the final design for both libraries.

"Thank you to the council," said Mayor Denis Law in the regular meeting after the principles were adopted. "And, thank you especially to our staff who have worked very hard to come up with a guiding principle list that really involves the community and takes care of the interests of all the people involved."

With regard to permitting for the library over the Cedar River, Vincent said there was some good news.

Critics of the Cedar River library renovation often cited the possibility of a lengthy and problematic permitting process if the current location was chosen for a remodeled library.

According to Vincent's estimation only one state permit would be required for the Cedar River library. However, he did point out that challenges could come from trying to obtain a federal permit for reconstruction.

It all hinges on whether construction on the downtown library over the Cedar will break the flood plain.

The current library is above the flood plain, but structural improvements below a certain point could trigger a federal permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The City of Renton will issue most of the permits, Vincent said.

KCLS Director Bill Ptacek expressed his eagerness to the council to continue working on the Renton library projects.

Worried about an erosion in good prices for sub-contractors and construction needs, Ptacek said he wants to keep the process moving.

The Highlands library, Ptacek reported, is close to the schematic design phase.

Council members Don Persson and Randy Corman brought up the issue of whether a housing portion of the Sunset Boulevard redevelopment and Highlands library project was off or where there had been some stumbling blocks.

Dave Nielsen, director of development for Colpitts Development, said there were discussions about the design elements for the project, but the deal is not off. He indicated KCLS did not want housing units located over the library.

The Highlands library project remains six months ahead of schedule.

Up next for the library projects is an open house from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., today (Tuesday) in the seventh floor conferencing center of City Hall. There will be stations set up for finance, permits, design and park improvement where people can visit and get their questions answered.

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