Opinion

Piazza is one of safest places in Renton | The Best Case rebuttal

By King Parker
co-chair, Friends of the Piazza Park Library

There is an overblown claim made by our opponents that downtown Renton is not safe. However, many people enjoy the farmers market, car shows, holiday festivals, attend school and shop at our local businesses everyday without fear. The city responded to the perceived safety issue by adopting a zero-tolerance policy at the transit center. Let me tell you folks, with current police emphasis patrols, the Piazza might actually be one of the safest places in Renton.

A 15,000-square-foot library is hardly a “cookie cutter kiosk,” as our opponents would have you believe. A visit to Fairwood library, which circulates more than the current downtown library, demonstrates that valuable programs, books, and media in a well-designed space is more efficient. Remember the first mobile phones that came out in the 1980s? They were HUGE compared to today’s smartphones. Folks, bigger is NOT always better.

Concerning the issue of parking, current plans call for 40 store-side parking stalls in addition to the 137 stalls within one block and 500 plus in the parking garage. On the other hand, the current library entrance isn’t exactly very close to the parking spaces for disabled patrons to access the front door.

Our opponents claim that the Piazza library will not “drive retail commerce.” Numerous studies have confirmed that libraries are catalysts for economic development. Their ability to attract people and their reputation as safe and stable community assets make them attractive additions to both downtown and neighborhood economic development efforts. Already, three new small businesses have opened downtown in anticipation of the new Piazza library. 

Repurposing the building over the river will NOT double our costs. Regardless of which study you think is correct, the estimated cost to rebuild over the river is between $10.1 million and $13.1 million. Both are higher than the estimated $9.3 million for the Piazza library. The same study quoted by the opposition found that basic renovation for general public use is estimated to only cost $1.8 million. We can have TWO buildings for the price of ONE. The better bargain here, ladies and gentlemen, is the west of the Piazza library.

King Parker is co-chair of the People for the Piazza Park Library.
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