Next up, lively library debate | Our View

The Renton City Council didn’t take last week’s suggestion that it include how much it would cost to build/renovate the new/old downtown Renton library in the wording of the ballot measure on the Aug. 7 ballot.

Maybe that slash-filled sentence is the reason why.

It’s complicated. And it’s political.

At least one council member who wants to keep the library over the Cedar River didn’t want to appear to support the more expensive of the two options. That cost to actually get the doors open at the library –  the simplest way to compare the two –  favors the new library next to the Piazza.

Why it’s complicated is that each site comes with costs that go beyond just creating (avoiding the word building, to be fair) a state-of-the art library.

For example, there will be additional costs to refurbish the library over the Cedar for a new use if the South Third site is chosen. But that option also is a wise investment in a building that still has plenty of value, both emotionally and monetarily.

In our view, a negative cost is the money the city spent to buy the Big 5 site, if the library over the Cedar is refurbished. Purchasing that site would not have been a good investment of public dollars for anything other than a public library.

Without a library there, the Big 5 site could become an albatross, unless the city could sell it.

So, yes, it’s complicated. And undoubtedly, not everyone agrees with us.

Let the debate begin.


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