RENTON REPORTER EDITORIAL: Council, move forward with building libraries
May 12, 2011 · 2:36 PM
Clearly, where to locate a new library downtown has split the community and the City Council.
The split really mirrors the narrow outcome when Renton voters approved the city’s annexation into the King County Library System, setting in motion today’s debate.
Renton is having a hard time letting go of its library over the river.
But, now the council must act decisively and, if possible, in unison to move forward with building a new library near the Renton Transit Center. A strong show of support is what’s needed to help Renton heal from the loss of the library.
And, frankly, downtown Renton needs a positive draw. It has lost customers to The Landing, which is becoming an economic engine for the city, and elsewhere, as pointed out by the Chamber of Commerce. A library says family values and those values are desperately needed in a downtown area again struck by youthful violence.
Council members who have their own doubts about locating a new library have made their feelings known. They have helped frame the debate and in some ways made what is an inevitable outcome more palatable by ensuring dissenting voices are heard on the council.
But we can see no way how the council can do anything other than build a new library and find another use for that iconic building on the Cedar. That deal was sealed when the council approved the purchase of the Big 5 property for the new library.
Selling the $18 million in bonds needed to build the new libraries is the right thing to do and should be done with confidence and with a commitment to find a new public use for a building that’s a symbol of Renton.