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KCLS offers design for 19,500-square-foot library over the Cedar

A drawing for a 19,500-square-foot library over the Cedar River was shown at Monday
A drawing for a 19,500-square-foot library over the Cedar River was shown at Monday's Renton City Council meeting.
— image credit: King County Library System

The King County Library System presented to the Renton City Council Monday night a concept for a new downtown library that's slightly smaller than the current one, an idea that was generally well-received by council members and the audience.

The new design is 19,500 square feet, about 13 percent smaller than the existing Cedar River library's 22,400 square feet.

The larger library would cost about $1.5 million more than what's currently budgeted for the new downtown library. City administrators will have ideas for how the City Council could pay for the difference at its April 29 meeting.

KCLS architects went back to the drawing board after a contentious March 26 open house at the library at which the audience objected to concept for a 15,400-square-foot library that fits within the $8.9 million budget.

The large crowd at the open house also was adament that KCLS not move the main entryway into the library, which is at the center of the walking bridge that spans the Cedar.

The design presented Monday retains the new entryway at the southeast corner of the library, but proposes creating a small plaza to help improve visibility between the door and the parking lot.

Before revealing the new designs, Ruth Baleiko of architectural firm Miller Hull, which is designing the downtown library for KCLS, briefed the council's Committee of the Whole and the audience on the process to get the library to this point.

The audience had a chance to weigh in on the new schematic drawings at the regular council meeting.

"It's the first sign they are listening to us," said Dave Beedon, who added there's still room for improvement with the plan.

But others continued to question the need to move the entryway from its central position on the bridge. Part of the reason for the move is structural; the braces for the library limit where there's sufficient room for an entry.

KCLS Director Bill Ptacek said leaving the entrance where it is now would affect how the library operates and would add cost to the building.

Also discussed were possible sources for the $1.5 million needed to build the 19,500-square-foot library.

Audience members argued that money is available within the $8.9 million budget and suggested hiring an independent auditor to look at how KCLS is spending money for the new library.

Beth Asher, one of the leaders of Save the Cedar River Library … Again!, told council members they have to watch the budget and they have to watch the city's partners, meaning KCLS.

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