King County Library System to pursue new White Center Library site

ORIGINAL REPORT, 12:26 PM THURSDAY: Quick update, longer story to come – the King County Library System’s Planning Committee has just been briefed by staff on its recommendations on what to do with White Center library services now that annexation to Burien has been turned down by voters. The recommendation: Find a new site slightly to the north, still on 16th/Ambaum, and build a new library for White Center. They believe they have the money and that they can be under construction by 2014 on a yet-to-be-determined site. The new library would be about 10,000 square feet – up from the current 6,000 square foot branch, which could remain open while the new one is under construction, since it won’t be torn down for a rebuild. Many details to be worked out, but planning committee members expressed initial support for the idea. They also wanted to hear more from the jurisdictions that have interest in that area – King County and potential future annexers Seattle and Burien. More to come.

ADDED EARLY FRIDAY: More details from the meeting, though this was only one item on the agenda and it lasted less than 20 minutes:

The committee met in Burien, and the briefing was led by system director Bill Ptacek.

The small meeting room was lined with onlookers, though nothing like the crowd that filled the seats in Issaquah when the KCLS board itself met almost a year ago (WCN coverage here) and ultimately put the consolidation discussion on hold, awaiting the annexation vote.

Ptacek told the Planning Committee that voters’ rejection of Burien annexation naturally gave rise to the question, “Where does that leave us?”

The library director said he did talk with Seattle leadership and said “they are not immediately interested in doing anything about (annexing the area), but there are members of the City Council that are interested, and it may be something at some point that they look into but it’s not at this time on their agenda …”

He also pointed out that the West Hill annexation proposal for Renton failed too.

What KCLS had previously explored, “the idea of a larger library,” is no longer feasible, he said. But “we do need to do something (in White Center) … there is a need for more library resources there.”

In his view, there are three options:

-Build a new library on the current library’s site
-Move a little further south
-Move a little bit north

If KCLS went with #1, he said, building a 10,000-square-foot library on the site – they would need a temporary library on the site during construction or not have services for the area during that time. “I think there is a need to kind of maintain library services there.” And he brought up the issue again of a library close to the Seattle boundary, “and it’s more of a possibility now … and I think that’s going to be a bit of a problem.”

Regarding moving the library south, he thought that wasn’t ideal either.

If they moved a bit north, “the advantages would be that we would be able to continue operations in the current library, and if Seattle ever did annex that library, it would be part of the city of Seattle’s service area, and the area’s taxpayers could be required to operate it as a library.”

He clarified that they’re not talking about moving it so far north that it would be up against the boundary – maybe a couple of blocks at most.

So, Ptacek said, that would be their recommendation – that the board approve the plan to move the White Center Library slightly north – working to find a place for it to happen, and get started on the project.

They’d like to stay on the same street (16th/Ambaum), he said – “that’s the right street to be on.”. And they would want to come up with a few alternatives “unless we got a really sweet deal. … We think right now we have the money, under the current building climate … (and) should be in good shape.”

To boot, they’d like to be under construction within a year or so – certainly by 2014.

While committee members said they would like some additional information from the stakeholder jurisdictions (the county, Burien, and Seattle), ultimately they expressed preliminary support for what Ptacek outlined. Next step: The KCLS board.

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6 Responses to “King County Library System to pursue new White Center Library site”

  1. Great news! Thanks, WCN.

  2. That’s pretty amazing! Wasn’t the pro annexation side saying we would potentially be loosing our library!? Funny we might be getting a brand new one! =D!

  3. Mago, Maybe you should get the facts about the promises made to this community in 2004 library bond levy, and maybe educate yourself about the long hard fight to keep the Blvd Park and WC Libraries from closing before you make statements about things you obviously know nothing about.

  4. Well Barbara, I believe someone was passing out a flyer at jubilee days saying the library was at the possibility of closing. So….perhaps the people you work with should be better at passing out more accurate information. I’m going to look through my box of flyers.. can probably find it and post it.

    Btw, don’t tell me I don’t know anything. That’s childish.

  5. Well after all we have been through in the last few months all I can say is I sure appreciate some good new for a change.

  6. @ A.L – AMEN to that!