The downtown Renton library’s long road to a vote

Today the Renton Reporter begins a series of articles on the Aug. 7 vote to decide the location of a new downtown library. Today’s article is designed to bring everyone up to speed on the issue. A timeline, soon to be posted, details this history.

The downtown Renton library is beloved by many for its scenic perch.

An issue once thought settled is now before Renton voters again: the location of a downtown library.

To say the least, this matter has struck a chord and divided the community.

The idea of relocating the downtown library from its scenic perch over the Cedar River is unimaginable to some who’ve voiced their opinions at City Hall or signed their support on an initiative to stop the move to the Piazza.

Conversely, it has been touted by some City of Renton officials and business owners as a way to revitalize the business district and heart of the city.

Looking at the timeline of events inside today’s Renton Reporter it may appear jarring as to how the city wound up here, with an Aug. 7 election vote to determine the site of the downtown library.

This is after the City Council had already put into motion plans to relocate the downtown library to a site west of the Piazza.

After all, in 2008 a Renton Library Master Plan recommended that Renton’s library system stay independent, while still upholding a borrowing agreement with KCLS.

Contrast that to February 2010, when the city held an election for voters to decide whether the city should annex to KCLS and turn over their beloved libraries to the system.

What perpetuated the change in direction?

The answer, in summary, was that the library issue had reached a crossroad  where Renton residents had to decide between annexing to KCLS or passing a levy to upgrade its library services.

The city of Renton could no longer afford its libraries.

The vote was close – just a 53-vote difference – and ultimately Renton annexed into KCLS.

That move attracted attention later as critics said it was not clear that KCLS would build new libraries, at Renton’s expense, for the Highlands and downtown branches.

As the City Council voted to issue $18 million bonds to pay for construction of the Highlands and downtown libraries, opposition mounted.

Each council meeting on the downtown library was increasingly filled with those for and against the relocation of the library over the Cedar River.

The grassroots effort, called the Citizens for the Preservation of the Cedar River Library, came to a head when it started collecting signatures for a ballot measure to halt the process.

Ultimately, the initiative was validated but not adopted by City Council; but the group’s efforts were rewarded when the council took another look at the issue.

Explaining that the public should have a say in where the downtown library is located, the City Council voted unanimously to put the site selection on the August 7 election ballot.

In the meantime, the City of Renton has invested $1 million on property acquisition and design work since selecting the site west of the Piazza. KCLS has not stopped work to design the new library at the Piazza.




More in News

Here’s who’s running for election in Renton

Candidates had till Friday to file for multiple local electioins

Former First Financial Northwest Bank CEO sentenced for tax fraud

The former CEO and President, Victor Karpiak, hid $2.3 million of income on tax returns from 2010 to 2016.

A design of Yene Boona Café and Roaster House, an Ethiopian coffee shop and roaster. The proposal estimates the project would cost $450,000.
                                Courtesy photo City of Renton
The grand versus the modest – Coffee shop or Plaza for the Old Chamber Building

City Council receives two different proposals for location near the airport

Courtesy photo Amazing Animals.
It’s not Broadway, but it is musical cats

Rescue cats are coming to Renton; not to homes, but to the… Continue reading

Renton’s Leisure Estates, a mobile home park for people over 55, hosted Hollywood comedy writer and producer Sy Rosen on May 4 for a screening of his short film The Matchmaker. Left to right: Ellen Ginn, Linda Keeney, Linda Clauson, Sy Rosen, Eileen Cunio, Darlene Ward, Pat Diggs.
                                Photo courtesy of Northwest Prime Time.
Comedy short-film premiers in Renton mobile home park

Leisure Care Estate residents win contest to host special event

Hazen junior Emily Blundred, team captain and project manager for the Hazen robotics team, was a finalist for the National Robotics Dean’s List. Blundred was able to attend the championship this year in Houston, Texas. Courtesy photo Emily Blundred
Hazen student uses her passion to make room for girls in STEM

Emily Blundred earns special honors through her work with the school’s robotic team

Renton City Council looks to move faster on sidewalk improvements

Almost half of Renton’s streets still don’t have pedestrian paths

School board member Lynn Desmarais announced she will leave her position after this term, leaving an open school board seat this election season. Photo courtesy of the Renton School District.
Long-time school board director ready to hang up hat after December

Lynn Desmarais reflects on 18 years of school advocacy

The Williams Avenue bridge is one of the local bridges facing new weight restrictions for heavy trucks and emergency response vehicles, including fire ladder trucks.
                                Photo by Haley Ausbun.
New bridge restrictions limit Renton firetrucks

City considers alternatives for emergency vehicles near North Renton

Most Read