I was taken aback by the attitude expressed in (July 28 edition’s) letter to the editor in support of a particular candidate for city council. Rather than celebrating the immense progress Renton has made in transforming itself over the past decades, the author chose to focus on negative themes, expressing disappointment and embarrassment that our city isn’t considered to be in the same league as our gold-plated neighbors to the north in Bellevue, Kirkland, Newcastle, and Medina.
A visit to the Renton History Museum will inform the author that heavy industry, socioeconomic diversity, and scrappy self-sufficiency have been hallmarks of Renton since its founding. Long before Bellevue even had a name, immigrants from all over the world came to Renton to work in its mines and sawmills, and later, in its factories. With that influx of people came a diversity of languages, ethnicities, and customs, a trend that continues to this day with our latest wave of immigrants. One would be hard-pressed to find any similarities at all between the demographics of Medina and Renton.
Beginning in the 1980s, the lake shore of Renton has been transformed from a heavily polluted industrial backwater into a showcase of urban development that includes Coulon Park, the Barbee Mill neighborhood, the VMAC/Seahawks facility, the CedarRiver Park, and of course Southport. All of this development co-exists with the most productive aircraft assembly facility in the world. In the near future, a large multi-use development is planned for the former Superfund site between Barbee Mill and VMAC. I’m not sure what other development the author would like to see occur along the lake to bring us up to Bellevue standards (polo fields perhaps?), but there are no remaining open parcels that I’m aware of.
Regarding the name “Hyatt Regency Lake Washington at Seattle’s Southport,” yes, it’s ridiculous, but as far as I’m concerned,SECO development can call their $630 million investment whatever they’d like as long as it benefits our city. Ultimately, visitors will learn that it’s in Renton.
Does Renton have challenges ahead of it? Absolutely, but let’s embrace our unique attributes and history rather than trying to conform to others’ snooty standards. Many of us are already proud to call Renton home, and are excited by the positive change that’s occurring here.