As a longtime Renton, resident I find the arguments against the relocation of the library a continuation of the same old tired themes that have restricted Renton’s development for the past 40 years.
In the 1970s when the city purchased the golf course, people were outraged. There were claims that the city could not afford it. Today I think that most city residents would have a hard time envisioning Renton without the golf course. In hindsight the city made a very responsible move which helped to improve the image and the quality of life in Renton.
In the 1990s when the city was out of compliance with its jails and proposed moving the City Hall to its current location, residents were again outraged. Today the move is seen as having been shrewd and financially responsible and today most city residents would have a hard time envisioning the city in its old City Hall.
When the old city pool was leaking and outdated, the city proposed building the aqua center and again residents were outraged. Today the center is financially secure and I believe that most city residents see the aqua center as an overall improvement to the quality of life in Renton.
Today we need a modern library (it was clearly stated in the voter’s material that new libraries were needed when voters agreed to join the King County Library System) and again residents are outraged. Well the new site has better parking, better public transportation access, and costs less than renovating the existing structure and will result in a structure that is built to the specifications and needs of our new library system. Being adjacent to the Piazza it would help to revitalize the downtown core. Some people have raised the issue of crime but thousands of people from all across the city feel safe enough to attend the Farmers Market every week. If city residents are safe to attend the Farmers Market, why would they not be safe to go to the new library?
I believe that just like the golf course, City Hall and aqua center, a new attractive library adjacent to the Piazza will help to improve the image and overall quality of life in Renton. It is my hope that the majority of city residents will be able to recognize that the potential gain for the city far exceeds the initial concerns.