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It's time to 'reboot' the library discussion and move forward | EDITOR'S NOTE
The word I used a few weeks back to describe the fresh approach I hoped to bring to the paper and issues in Renton was “reboot.”
I love the connotation that brings, especially in the Hollywood sense.
To me, it means starting fresh with an old idea. It means not being locked into a timeline or narrative constraint created by the tales told before.
For example, in 2007, Christopher Nolan rebooted the flailing “Batman” franchise after the previous director ran it into the ground by putting nipples on the Batsuit and amping up the Adam West-like cheese factor.
Nolan kept the basics, but simply operated without the constraints created in “Batman and Robin,” which may not be the worst movie you’ll ever see, but I wouldn’t risk it.
In using the word reboot, I hoped to conjure up those type of images and to be able to reset a few stories.
For example, as we await the hearing examiner’s decision on the appeal from the group Save the Cedar River Library… Again!, I really think the library discussion needs to be rebooted. It has wandered well into the weeds and I think we have lost a lot of focus throughout the various and assorted campaigns that have surrounded it.
This column will not, however, reveal my opinion on the location or design of the Cedar River Library renovation. I, like you, will use my votes this fall and in the future to speak for my opinion.
But I do think there’s a few basic facts that we need to get back to.
For example, it is not accurate or fair when people say things like “the city council/KCLS is not listening” to the people who have fought to retain the library’s location and are now fighting the design.
The truth is both are and have been listening.
It was the City Council that heard the outcry from the public and placed on the ballot the referendum about the library’s location. They listened to the public and responded. They did the same in asking KCLS for continuing open houses on the project.
Then, KCLS listened when voters said they wanted the library over the river, which was not its plan. They have re-vamped their plans and now the library will stay in its iconic location over the river.
Because KCLS listened when they didn’t have to. That vote last August was an advisory vote. It carried no real weight. KCLS could have simply said “yeah, that’s nice” and moved ahead with its plans. But it did not. Because KCLS listened to the residents.
Then, after working with the budget - that voters approved - meant a smaller building, KCLS listened again when there was public outcry and brought a larger building back to the City Council, who also were listening and approved a bigger budget for the larger building.
So to say that KCLS or the Council are not listening to the public is to ignore these basic facts. The truth is that many of the commenters simply believe they are not doing enough.
And that’s a valid opinion, but please stop saying people aren’t listening.
I was actually at one of the open houses earlier this year and heard someone say KCLS wasn’t listening while said person was the one refusing to talk to KCLS. KCLS staffers were right there, asking for input, but because the person speaking did not like the format that was set up, he simply decided the library people “weren’t listening.” But the obvious truth was that he was choosing not to talk to them.
I have also reviewed the votes taken on this matter. And the fact is that voters, by admittedly a very small margin, voted to join KCLS and, in doing so, approved “two replacement facilities.”
I hear a lot of people saying they never voted for KCLS to take down and rebuild the current building, but voters literally did just that.
In fact, the opposition statement against annexation into KCLS stated “Renton Library will be moved and Renton residents will pay for replacement facilities,” meaning the voters knew going in what they were getting (or, at least, the info was out there).
But after realizing that meant no more library over the river, residents spoke out and the council listened, calling for last year’s vote on location preferences, which (unsurprisingly) went overwhelmingly to the current site.
Even in the advisory vote last year, it was again stated that the city was “required ... to fund and construct two new state-of-the-art libraries to replace Renton’s two existing libraries” and then called for a new library over the river but one that was not only “renovated” but “substantially renovated” at that.
In recent discussions and comments, several people have also referred to last year’s vote as though it weighed in on the location of the door, which KCLS has proposed moving to one of the river’s bank instead of keeping it mid-span.
Now, whatever your view on where the door should be (and I am not telling you mine), the vote did not at all discuss that. It spoke of location only. It did not speak to the size of the building, the layout of the building or location entrances.
It was not a vote to maintain the current building exactly as it is. It was, quite simply, an advisory vote on the location of the new library that voters said must be built.
Again, I am not trying to push the issue in one way or the other on what should be done or where it should be done.
But this is an important issue for our city and our future and I just think it is important every now and again to take an honest look back at how we got here, so the discussion moving forward can continue to be constructive.
So let’s reboot this conversation right here and move this story forward, without Batgirl, Robin or this idea that nobody is listening to the citizens to drag us away from the primary storyline.