As we maneuver through routine issues facing the city each week, it’s easy to forget all of the good things taking place in our community. Each day usually brings a challenge or two, which is to be expected when you are working to provide services to 91,000 residents. From finalizing a new police enforcement strategy for our parks and downtown, to dealing with a broken sewer line near Coulon Park, last week was fairly routine.
In addition to our normal challenges, we have also been involved in the ongoing debate surrounding the construction of two new libraries. A number of our residents, understandably, are concerned with the effort to relocate the library into a new facility downtown, while utilizing the current building over the river for another public use. Others, including business and property owners, feel locating the library in the core of the downtown will provide the critical mass of people that is needed for local businesses to survive and thrive. While thinking back over the issues and debates of the week, it was inspiring to review all of the good things that took place during that same seven-day period.
Beginning a week ago Saturday, we celebrated Arbor/Earth Day at Coulon Park and had approximately 200 local residents on hand to help plant trees, shrubs and spread bark throughout the park. This was volunteerism at its best!
On Thursday, Friends of the Renton School District hosted its second annual fundraising event at the Renton Pavilion Event Center. An impressive crowd of 350 local residents and community and business leaders gathered to hear REI President and CEO Sally Jewell give one of the best speeches I have ever heard regarding youth and learning. A Renton High graduate, Jewell was introduced by KING TV’s Meeghan Black, a Renton resident who continually offers her time to support our community.
It was a very inspiring event and the fundraising effort, led by local auto dealer Bob Bridge, netted nearly $200,000 for Renton students at a time when school budgets are being dramatically slashed.
A few hours later, I attended the unveiling of a new sign for the Renton Clothes Bank. Thanks to a major funding commitment, the Renton Kiwanis Club now has its name included with the clothes bank. The Renton Clothes Bank provides valuable service to thousands of men, women and children each year.
And on Friday, I met Dennis and Lydia Mascarinas who have purchased the former Pounders Bar on Main Avenue South and have built a new restaurant and bar that will feature homemade bratwurst and imported beers from Europe. They have made a major investment in our community and I’m willing to bet that this pub will become one of the most popular establishments in Renton.
In addition to the Spring Festival at the Piazza Park and the downtown Poker Run promotion put on by local businesses, Saturday was devoted to celebrating Renton’s history. It began at the Fred Meyer store where a restored totem pole, honoring Henry Moses, former chief of the Duwamish Tribe and a basketball, baseball and track star from Renton High School, was dedicated in front of the garden center. The totem pole was originally carved in the 1970s by Jim Ploegman and later stolen from the shopping center. It was recovered by police in Oregon, and thanks to Fred Lund with the Renton Municipal Arts Commission, the totem pole was returned and recently restored by Ploegman with funds provided by Fred Meyer.
To round off the week, a day filled with activities honored Renton High School’s Centennial Celebration. Hundreds of alumni, former faculty, current students and local residents filled the school for tours, displays, entertainment by the alumni choir and a huge cake prepared by students from the culinary program. It was a wonderful celebration that put everybody into the spirit of Renton High. The event was followed by a special dinner and reception at the Renton Pavilion Event Center where distinguished alumni were honored.
Enthusiasm coupled with pride and community spirit was present at each one of these events. That’s what makes Renton a special place to live.
Mayor Denis Law can be reached at email@example.com.