Big Q about White Center’s new library: Where should it sit on the site?
Lots of new information emerged about White Center’s new library at the first big public meeting about the project – including three potential configurations for the site. The library could be sited on the northwest corner, with the parking lot to its south:
Or, on the northwest corner with the parking lot to its east:
Or, on the northeast corner with the parking lot to its west:
If all goes well, the project team said at Thursday night’s meeting – billed as an open house but really a presentation with Q/A – construction could start in about a year. More than 50 people were there, and these are the key points they heard from project-team reps including King County Library System director Bill Ptacek:
*The library is still planned for 10,000 square feet, likely one story, with at least one large meeting room (the current WC Library is 6,000 sf). “We feel comfortable (10,000 sf) will be a good size for this community,” said Ptacek. It’ll have about 50 parking spaces, about twice what the current library has.
*The project team hopes to build it at least to “LEED silver” for sustainability
*The construction budget – not including design – is $4.2 million for the building and parking lot
*It’s not expected to have anything resembling a coffee shop; just a vending machine, said Ptacek, who noted that they once talked with Starbucks about the possibility of library/coffee-shop partnerships, but Starbucks just didn’t think there was much in it for them.
*Major attraction: It will be close to Mount View Elementary, where the meeting was held; the school is just to the east of the site. And the closer the better, indicated many who spoke.
*The site has its challenges, it was acknowledged, including changes in grade, but the new library’s location is not up for discussion, Ptacek said firmly.
*Staff members – some of whom were at the meeting – do get input into the project, especially the floor plan.
*Future users are getting input too; one librarian said they hope to have focus groups with teenagers, and possibly even talk with elementary students at Mount View once next school year starts.
*One attendee said she had spoken with Cascade Middle School students, who told her that computer access was their highest priority for the new library, and that they hoped it would have room for them to do homework – many, the attendee said, might have large extended families and no room at home to work.
One big caveat about the hoped-for timeline of starting construction around this time next year: Hard to tell how long it will take to get permits. The Vashon library project took more than a year, it was noted. But, KCLS reps say, County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office is “interested in getting the project going as fast as possible.”
In the meantime, they hope to have design renderings ready to show in October.
And once they have the site layout locked in, then they can get busy with another key part of the plan – finding a partner to use the rest of the land on the site, which is expected under terms of the deal to buy it from the Washington State Housing Finance Commission. Housing is a possibility on whatever part is not used for the library.
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