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Downtown Renton library to close in two weeks

The most recent downtown library artist
The most recent downtown library artist's rendering, uploaded June 12, 2014.
— image credit: Courtesy image

CORRECTION: The image on this story has been corrected. At the time it was originally posted to the web, the Renton Reporter used the most recent artist's sketch available, based on the most recent designs available. However, a new update was posted to the web on June 12 which once again changed the plans. The most current design is now the one in the photo. We apologize for the confusion.

In an unannounced update before Renton City Council, the King County Library System on Monday said the downtown Renton Library will be closing in two weeks to begin the planned construction.

A library update was not listed on the council agenda, but Greg Smith, KCLS facilities director, gave the update on the project at the regular city council meeting on June 9. It was the first time actual dates have been given for the closure of the library over the Cedar River. The current location is to close June 22 and the temporary location is expected to open June 25 at 64 Rainier Ave. S.

"We are excited for the project and eager to get started," said Smith via email. "We feel good about the results."

The Liberty Park library renovation project went to bid May 20 and had six bidders, Smith reported to the council. Of those six, $5.1 million was the lowest bid and $5.9 million was the highest, with an engineering budget of $6.2 million, Smith said the project was well within budget for the library. The library's total budget is $10.4 million.

Construction Enterprises and Contractors, of Tacoma, was selected for construction. The anticipated opening date for the downtown Renton Library is September 2015.

"During the closure we have a huge amount of outreach activities scheduled June through August," Smith told council. Those activities include the Summer Learning, Let's Read and Deep Dive programs with the Renton School District as well as continuing children's, teen and adult services at the Renton Highlands Library.

The temporary library will have some computers, a small collection and holds pick-up, in about 2,000 square feet of space. It will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday.

Design features have all been decided upon for the new downtown location. They include a new floor to ceiling glazed curtainwall, to let in more natural light and create more views of the river. There will be a new metal canopy at the entire perimeter of the building and it will provide solar protection. A new large meeting and multipurpose room is planned, with natural light, sliding panel doors, blackout shades and storage space. Additionally, there will be three smaller meeting or study rooms planned. There have also been significant structural, mechanical and thermal conservation features and upgrades included in the design to meet current building codes and for better energy efficiency.

"The pedestrian bridge will remain in place and will be closed during construction," said Smith via email. "It will have (a) new railing installed and be refurbished. You will still be able to view fish from the bridge and have a much better view from inside the library."

During construction there will be times when parts of the north side lot will be fenced off as well as the entire south lot for staging. KCLS is working with Renton Community Services and the contractor to mitigate impacts to the park. The original library was built in 1965 and 1966. The next step is for KCLS to move out of the building and to turn the space over to the contractor.

Smith tried to give some explanation for the surprise update at the council meeting in an interview on Tuesday.

"KCLS was invited by city staff to give an update at the June 9 meeting of progress and bid results of liberty park library," he said. "Currently, (we) do not plan on coming on the 16th to repeat what was said last night. KCLS has no idea why we were not on council agenda as we were asked by staff to provide (an) update."

Information about the project was to be posted at www.kcls.org.

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