Opinion

RENTON REPORTER EDITORIAL: For Renton’s libraries, Valley Medical Center a season of change

Two of Renton’s instiutions, its libraries and Valley Medical Center, are undergoing monumental change that  while emotional and controversial will in the end bring better services to residents of the city.

These last few months have shown that change truly isn’t easy.

No one can deny that the loss of Renton’s iconic library over the Cedar River is gut-wrenching. It certainly has lit up the blogsphere and filled the City Council chambers and council member inboxes with protest.  In a 4-3 vote, the Renton City Council decided to go forward with building the new library next to the Renton Transit Center and the Piazza and in the Highlands.

Will those yes votes take a political toll on those four, Terri Briere, Rich Zwicker, King Parker and Don Persson? Parker is retiring and Briere and Zwicker are not up for re-election.  But Persson is; his opponent is Phyllis Forister, one of the most outspoken critics of moving the library deeper into downtown.

It would be a shame to lose a council member with such depth of community understanding as Persson, especially over an issue that frankly wasn’t going to necessarily have a different outcome. It’s been pretty clear that the future of the downtown library was in doubt, that doubt set in motion when Renton voters decided to annex to the King County Library System.

There was debate Monday night on the council about the depth of the opposition to moving the library. Certainly, it’s hard to judge, if you look only  at who has commented online or taken the time to e-mail or call a council member. Those opposed to something are likely going to make their feelings known, rather than someone who is simply disengaged or more likely understanding of the reasoning behind the library move.

Besides, we elect people to represent us and our views. That’s the basis of our  representative democracy.

We look forward to a new modern library rising in downtown Renton. And we applaud our police officers and their leaders for doubling their efforts to make the area around the Renton Transit Center safer, easing one of the deepest concerns about the new library’s location.

And we look forward to a strategic alliance between Valley Medical Center and UW Medicine, one of the premiere medical institutions in the country.  We applaud the efforts of commissioners Sue Bowman, Carolyn Parnell and Don Jacobson to keep the board on track and their eyes on the prize - better health care.

We’re tired of listening to commissioners Dr. Aaron Heide and Anthony Hemstad continue to divert the board’s attention with a harangue about whether CEO Rich Roodman is paid to much and what now is more obvious -  Hemstad’s goal  of removing Roodman from his job.

A new larger board to oversee the hospital’s medical side will bring a more professional tone to hospital oversight and concentrate on what’s important, patient health and safety.

We agree with Roodman that July 1, when the strategic alliance takes effect, is a monumental milestone for  the region’s health care. He can take credit for helping to make it happen.

 

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