Tonight: Libraries, buses, KCSO on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda

June 6th, 2013 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, Libraries, Metro, White Center news Comments Off on Tonight: Libraries, buses, KCSO on North Highline Unincorporated Area Council agenda

You’re invited tonight – 7 pm, North Highline Fire District HQ at 1243 SW 112th, as the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council takes on this busy agenda:

7:00 pm Call to Order – Flag Salute – Roll Call –
Approval of Agenda – Approval of Minutes
7:05 pm Public Announcements
7:10 pm Public Comment
3minutes for Individuals
5 minutes for Groups

7:15 pm Election of Officers

7:20 pm Bill Ptacek, King County Library System Director

7:40 pm Deanna Martin, Community Relations Planner
King County Department of Transportation

8:00 pm Deputy William Kennamer, King County Sheriff’s Office
Special Operations Section

8:10 pm Committee Reports

8:15 pm Unfinished Business/Old Business
• Jubilee Days
• Storefront Deputy Petition

8:20 pm New Business
• Napa Building – 16th Avenue

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OPEN LETTER: Gratitude for White Center Library decision, determination in moving forward

March 1st, 2013 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news 3 Comments »

Received from Astha Tada, who wants to share her thoughts on the White Center Library decision far and wide:

Hoorah! It’s been decided! Our new, larger 10,000 square foot library will be built right behind Mount View Elementary at S.W. 107th Street and 14th Avenue S.W. This will be a welcomed resource since effective early elementary education is crucial for school success. It is also still within walking distance from Cascade Middle School/ Evergreen campuses, closer to White Center Heights Elementary and low income facilities.

The requests to delay the decision to understand the full impact of the sites and get greater community involvement were denied by KCLS Trustees who felt rising building costs, long delays, generous loan allowances and another interested buyer compelled them to make this choice.

Like planning a home, the White Center community needs to be sure that the King County Library System (KCLS) has our input in designing our library so that it meets the needs of our diverse White Center patrons. For example, our teens need more access to computers and other technology not found in their homes. Many of our adult citizens rely solely on the library for job applications and searches.

Gratitude! Before we begin the building process, recognition is needed for the hard work, diligence and perseverance of those who fought to keep our library from closing. If not for their efforts, we would not be celebrating right now!

Comments that the library closure was a ploy for annexation are not correct. As one who participated in the long battle to keep both Boulevard Park and White Center libraries from closing, annexation was definitely a key issue presented by KCLS as a reason for consolidation and closure of our smaller libraries. Thank you to those who sacrificed much personal time by attending numerous KCLS Issaquah meetings to testify, monitoring diligently KCLS agendas that listed our libraries, writing letters and editorials, gathering over 2000 petition signatures, informing organizations and citizens, etc.

When the KCLS Board of Trustees was going to vote for consolidation, those who attended would not leave unless the decision was delayed, pending the annexation vote. It was a face-to-face standoff! If you were there, you would have been proud of our supporters’ combined grit and determination to keep our beloved libraries open!

Credit for the hard work include members of the White Center Library Guild, North Highline Unincorporated Area Council, Burien City Council, King County Councilman Joe McDermott, Highline School District, White Center Community Development Association and numerous citizens from Boulevard Park, White Center and elsewhere whose individual actions collectively made a significant difference. The Highline District Board of Directors passed a 2-page formal Resolution 2479 unanimously opposing the closure of our libraries.

I want to, especially, recognize one individual whose passion and commitment were crucial in saving our two libraries. Rachael Levine, former White Center Library Guild president, never wavered in leading the fight, even when many were ready to give up. She was willing to bring her sleeping bag and camp out with me in front of our library to keep it open. Her integrity in how she battles on, the respectful manner in dealing with opposing individuals, and her wisdom and continued service after years of participating in many humanitarian and social organizations make her a true White Center warrior!

Let’s begin the building process by coming together, collaborating and cooperating to build the best library for our White Center community. Time keeps ticking and our high-potential, high-need students are counting on us to help them climb out of poverty. The building bond for this project was approved in 2004. KCLS needs to host planning sessions in our community so that many of you can give input. The Highline School District has offered KCLS school space for these events. Everyone is welcome! All aboard! ONWARD!

Gracias, cam on, ar kun, mahad sanid, fa’afetai, arigato, thank you,

Astha Tada
Community volunteer
Retired Cascade Middle School librarian
2nd Vice President of Beta Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization focused on educational excellence

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Help while you shop: White Center Library Guild Holiday Bazaar on Saturday

December 6th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Holidays, How to Help, Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Help while you shop: White Center Library Guild Holiday Bazaar on Saturday

Two days till a chance to shop for gifts while supporting the community group that supports your White Center Library: 11 am-3 pm this Saturday (December 8th), the White Center Library Guild Holiday Bazaar will include “cookies, breads, and gently used items” – plus creations by the Burien Knitters group (for the first time!) and entertainment by magician Jeff Evans at 2 pm. Find it in the meeting room at the library, 11220 16th SW.

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King County Library System to pursue new White Center Library site

November 15th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news 6 Comments »

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: Read the rest of this entry »

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White Center and Boulevard Park libraries’ fate: KCLS planning committee meeting tomorrow

November 14th, 2012 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on White Center and Boulevard Park libraries’ fate: KCLS planning committee meeting tomorrow

Remember the furor over the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries, and whether they would be closed, merged, or … The King County Library System Board put a decision on hold, to see how annexation turned out. Now, annexation has gone down to defeat, and this item is back on the front burner. Tomorrow (Thursday) at noon, the KCLS Planning Committee meets at the Burien Library (4th/156th), and the North Highline libraries are at the top of the agenda. Public welcome.

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White Center Library Guild’s holiday bazaar happening now!

December 3rd, 2011 Tracy Posted in Libraries Comments Off on White Center Library Guild’s holiday bazaar happening now!

Till 3 pm, the White Center Library Guild is presenting its annual holiday bazaar – just days after the library won another reprieve from closure, with supporters including Guild members taking their case to the King County Library Board in Issaquah. The library’s at 11220 16th SW.

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Update: King County Library Board delays decision on White Center-Boulevard Park consolidation

November 29th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news 7 Comments »

(TOPLINE: King County Library Board decided at about 7:52 pm NOT to decide, yet, on the re-proposed consolidation of WC and Boulevard Park libraries)

5:10 PM: We’re in Issaquah tonight with dozens of people including White Center community advocates, Burien city councilmembers, and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, as the King County Library Board goes back to the issue of consolidating the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries in a new location, with a resolution on the agenda to initiate that process.

The meeting is beginning with public comment. First up: a man who says he doesn’t appreciate having had to travel “this far east” to talk about White Center and Boulevard Park libraries, and at an inconvenient hour, too. He says that contrary to something that he says someone said last night at the Burien City Council meeting, there are schools within blocks of the current White Center Library. “Your plan to consolidate and move the library is going to abandon all those schools distance-wise.” He talked about seeing a young boy outside the closed WC Library on blustery Veteran’s Day, with his laptop, saying he was just there because even though the library branch was closed, he could still get the wi-fi. … “We the users are very happy with our libraries- leave them alone, take the money if you have to, build new libraries (somewhere else), leave (these two) as they are.”

Next, White Center/North Highline community advocate Gill Loring. He says he sent a “pretty harsh” e-mail to county elected officials earlier today. The King County Library System is “one of the premier library systems in the United States,” he acknowledged, but it has to keep its promise of a new White Center library – “which I voted for in 2004.” He says he’s been tracking this issue closely for two years as a library patron, book lover, and Library Guild member. “We need those libraries. A consolidated library further south isn’t going to serve the community.” Loring says he is certain a new library would draw more people than the existing one. “I can’t really find any real reasons to consolidate the libraries – looking at all the financials … I still think it comes down to, we were promised two libraries, I would like to see them remain where they are or in the vicinity of where they are so they can better serve our community.”

Next is Butch Henderson, who says he lives “within walking distance of the Boulevard Park library.” He says the consolidation plan “makes no sense to the community.” He too brings up the 2004 vote on the libraries, saying the locations enable the two libraries to serve a diverse population that doesn’t always have access to cars. He accuses the board of “not listening … The people of these communities have spoken about what they want and what they need … but you’re not listening.” He too mentions the students who use the libraries are there for computers and Internet access, things they don’t have at home – and they don’t have convenient transportation. “Libraries help the students succeed in life and in school … We have to support the people in our communities, and I just want to know, are you listening to us?”

Fourth speaker is Joey Martinez, who says he lives in the southern part of Burien and “won’t be directly impacted by this … However, I do want to say, I grew up in East Los Angeles, in a poor neighborhood, and there are two types of kids:” gang-bangers and bookworms, which he says is the same in White Center, so “I’m here to speak for them.” He says those two types of kids are going to become three types of adults – in prison, blue-collar worker, white-collar workers. “I fear if we take these libraries away, we are going to have kids who have only the gang life or the blue-collar life” – stressing that he’s not knocking blue-collar workers, but thinks kids deserve to have the chance at more knowledge access for higher achievement, too.

Fifth speaker, a Boulevard Park Library patron who says he goes there four or five times a week. If the library promises made in 2004 aren’t going to be kept, he says, he wants his money refunded.

Sixth speaker, Barbara Zimmer of Boulevard Park, who says the library is a “priceless asset.” She wants the board to protect that asset. “By keeping the Boulevard Park Library at its present location, we have access to books, computers, and knowledgeable library staff.” She says Southern Heights Elementary students met their progress goal, and she believes partnership with the library helped make that possible.

She was followed by a Bellevue resident who says community libraries are important to her, and she has some questions about “the proposed resolution.” She mentions that the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries are each 3 miles or less from the new Burien Library, and wonders if the latter facility is being so used “past capacity” that a new one needs to be built closer to it. “Should we think about spending a lot of money on a new facility of 15,000 square feet that will be 8/10ths of a mile from a (larger facility) that might be serving the community, or that it might make more sense to spend your money at the current locations, even if you’re not building new facilities … but enhancing services at those locations?”

5:33 PM: Burien City Councilmember Jerry Robison. “I’ve been a customer of the White Center Library since the early ’70s. My mother-in-law was a member of the library guild for many years.” When he grew up in a rural area, he said, the closest thing he had to a library was a Bookmobile. “What we’re looking at here is shutting down two libraries that serve two distinct communities.” He says the distances between the Burien Library and the two libraries is actually greater than a previous speaker mentioned – WC, he says, is more than 4 miles away from the Burien library. “If competition with the Burien library is a problem (then moving a community library closer) is just going to make it worse.” Regarding the “unresolved annexation issue,” he said, even if this does make more sense in an annexed world, “why not just wait” to see what happens? He is refuting other points in the consolidation rationale, one by one. “Frankly the whole proposal does not make any sense. It’s a disservice to Boulevard Park, a disservice to White Center, a disservice to Burien.”

After him, newly elected North Highline Fire Commissioner, and North Highline Unincorporated Area Council member, Liz Giba. She said earlier this year she believed this whole decision was on hold until annexation was settled one way or another. “I assumed some word would go out to the community if that changed. That didn’t happen. We really need you to communicate with us and be open and honest in terms of what you are doing and what decisions you are contemplating to make about our community and the future of the people who live in our communities … particularly young people.” She mentioned a petition signed by students. “Many of them signed the petitions on an ironing board in front of the libraries … This is a promise you have made to our entire community, and you may not understand how poverty affects not only today, but tomorrow and the next generation.” She mentioned the link between education and ending poverty. It’s about words, she said, citing a study showing that four times as many words are spoken in well-off homes as in not-well-off homes. “Words are important!” She says consolidation “will be cutting off a necessary resource” and urges them to put the decision on hold until after an annexation decision.

5:44 PM: Margaret Nelson, who lives in Federal Way, says “I came to support the people of Burien .. About five or six years ago, we went through the same situation, where we had voted to keep our library at its current location, where all of a sudden King County changed its mind” and decided to move the library. She says they got lots of support in fighting that plan. She wonders if the library board members “actually go to the libraries” and see what’s happening there. She notes that the library board members are not elected officials but should listen to the communities. “Do you not want to support us? We are the taxpayers, and we rely on you to listen to us.”

Karen Freeman from King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office speaks next, conveying his regrets at not being able to attend. She says he too requests that no decision about the library sites be made until the annexation issue is settled: “A delay would be helpful to all parties involved until more insight about community governance .. and the community’s preference regarding the project, can be obtained.”

King County Councilmember Joe McDermott follows her. “I’m here again to do as I have in two previous occasions this year” – to urge them not to consolidate. He revisits the 2004 bond measure that so many have already mentioned. He cites a study about traffic and circulation being higher in libraries bigger than the current White Center Library, which he says voters expected in the 2004 vote. “Positive steps have been taken since the last time I addressed you – Burien is moving forward to annex (North Highline). Meantime, Seattle has not taken any steps .. I do not believe the service boundaries will change in that area.” He mentions a survey of library patrons about a consolidated library location, “done without any comparison to maintain Boulevard Park and expand the White Center Library – it had a single alternative. If you ask me if I want a sexy new library, I’d say yes. If you ask me if I wanted (an expanded White Center Library), the answer could be very different.” As with several preceding speakers, he gets a round of applause when he finishes.

Greg Duff, who ran for Burien City Council this year and has served on NHUAC, is next. He is implying that the Library Board’s pursuit of this option is based on the pursuit of a more affluent clientele. “If you close the libraries, kids will not be able to walk to them.” He also talks about some cost overruns on other KCLS projects. He says he agrees with the board’s notion to pursue construction while costs are still favorable – but regarding an expanded WC Library, not a new consolidated library. “Boulevard Park and White Center are two separate communities and need two separate libraries.” He concludes by asking the board to keep the promise made in the 2004 election.

Now, Burien Councilmember Rose Clark. She is reading a letter from her council: “We are surprised and disappointed” that the consolidation measure is back. “We urge you to reject the idea again,” for the reasons cited back in May. And if annexation does not occur, she reads, the council will work with the Library Board to find a solution. “The King County Library Board is the only special district in the state whose members are not elected,” she notes. “One of the paramount reasons for annexation is to increase the access to resources (for residents),” she reminds, continuing. “Please keep your commitment to the voters.” She says the board had been asked to hold a meeting in the White Center community but “has chosen not to do that” and was asked to keep Burien “in the loop” but has “chosen not to do that.” She says it’s “reprehensible” that a decision like this would be made without holding a meeting in the community. She notes that the council talked about a possible lawsuit last night. She is asked a question by a trustee who wanted to confirm that the letter was an official letter from the city. Clark explains that Burien has mayor-council government and so the letter was sent by the mayor with council consent.

Burien Councilmember Jack Block Jr. follows. He says a journalist remarked to him that the consolidation “sounded like a done deal,” and to hear that from a journalist troubled him. He brings up the Puget Sound Park purchase plan from two years ago that stirred up consolidation concerns. He mentions the third-runway controversy. He says he remembers the 2004 bond-issue commitments and working to get the bond passed because of those commitments. He compares the attempt here to take two libraries away, with a new parking center being built in Bellevue. “If the library system doesn’t follow through on the promises that were made, there will be litigation,” he predicts. He suggests the board should be elected, because if “you don’t perform according to the wishes of the community, you should be un-elected.” He says doing the right thing would be not just tabling the resolution, but fully following through “with the commitments that were made to the community.”

6;09 PM: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin, who says she is speaking in her official capacity. She too mentions urging the board not to consolidate, back in June. “We heard rumors that perhaps the new library would beon 128th near Ambaum …” so, citing that location, she says the current bus system would require a 40-minute trip. She too mentions the petition signature gathering drive outside the library. “People are very passionate about these libraries. We don’t see how consolidating these ilibraries will” honor that.

6:12 PM: Rachel Levine of the White Center Library Guild, ow. “I am not a stranger to you,” she begins. She says “each one of you have the strength and the courage to vote agianst this.” She reads from the Capital Improvements Plan ” She says, “Itis my belief tat no member of this board. She implies feeling betrayed by the vote and s.” She exhorts them to “look into your conscience.” She addresses each member of the council in turn, starting with president Richard Eadie, who is a King County judge. She addresses each one by name and by occupation. “Be a risk-taker,” she iurges each on. Levine turns to the audience, then, and thanks them for coming out to “speak (their) truth.”

The next speaker offers a challenge on what public libraries are all about in our country right now. “24 million people do not have full time jobs (in the country). 50 million do not have health insurance. .. . These numbers are increasing as we see the divide between the rich and the poor increase. … The US is in a war of poverty,” and unless it’s fought, we will “spiral down,” she said. She says the White Center community has a higher percentage of free-and-reduced=lunch-eligible students – 81 percent in WC. She goes on to talk about the value of professional librarians helping students, who have increased motivation “to keep coming back to school,” and how the library plays a vital role in that situation. She says it’s important to everyone to help students succeed. She cites the national ALA policy about access to libraries “Poor people are not served equally well. Why is that? Because most of hte libraries are run by middle-class people. … We have got to make a difference in the lives of people who are moving down in the poverty levels. If we don’t, we are not going to have a very good country to live in. … We have to do this,” she says emphatically.”If you sign the authorization tonight, you are essentially closing an important door of opportunity for these students..”… The cost you think you are going to be saving pales next to the cost of (not working toward social justice).” Overall, she says it’s an exciting time for public libraries … exhorting the district to “take some risks here,” and concludes, “Don’t close the two libraries.”

Phillip Levine says he’s seen the culture grow into a “managerial society,” and under that structure, certainly, “one huge library” would make sense. But he says that concept also has caused destruction. He says library education is as important as food, clothing, shelter. He wonders why four communities have now objected to proposed loations for their libraries. “I’m really offended by living in a society that’s devoted to the bottom line” – there has to be other qualities that are valued.

Next, Judy Kistler, who says she lives “near the old Tukwila Library,” which is closing, but more importantly, she worked at the BOulevard Park Library until she retired this past spring. She says the libraries mean the world to community members,. She says other decisions have been made that are a “questionable use of taxpayers’ resources.”

(Note, the public comment period has now run an hour and a half.)

The woman after her refers to the voting system in the country.and says that should be where the buck stops – if a body like this can ovdrturn a vote, then the ballot might as well “be trash.” She says they’ve already lost a lot of service in the libraries, and “we need you to see how we’ve lost it.”

Pat Price speaks now on behalf of the Boulevard Park library, saying she and her husband have lived in BP for four years. She says she’s lucky to have a job and a car, but that many of hte library patrons are seniors who live nearby and don’t have cars, so they rely on walking to the library. “These libraries are USED,” she says. “If you move the library away where they can’t reach them. Sure the new fancy libraries will get used by those with cars ..” but not by the others who need them. And if these libraries are closed, she says, the county will need a lot more “Library To Go” vehicles. “I hope you’ll make the right decision,” she concludes.

And at 6:42 pm, that ends the list of speakers, says board president Eadie, who asks if anyone else wants to speak. No one does.

After a quick consideration of the agenda, library system director Bill Ptacek says that the board is certainly not unresponsive to the issues raised by so many speakers tonight. He says this consolidation issue arose two years ago because of something brought forth by the community, uncertain about the annexation situation, and that led to a service-area analysis. “Some of the speakers say it doesn’t make sense, and frankly, it doesn’t make sense,” he said, but moves on into a defense of the rationale behind the proposal, including the availability of more library hours and square feet of library.

He talks about the service-area analysis, and “changed conditions,” for which he summons staffer Jennifer Wiseman to step up and elaborate – conditions that have changed since the 2004 bond measure. One, she says, is the impact of the big new Burien Library, which she says is drawing clients from North Highline, as well as other areas. “Wasn’t that expected?” asks Gill Loring from the audience. She doesn’t answer.

2nd factor, “distribution per capita” – she says North Highline was expected to have more growth than it has had – “we expected a population increase in those areas, and it hasn’t happened.”

3rd factor, “unresolved annexation” – that the unincorporated area has been split into two portions, and the White Center Library is “very near the boundary of the city of Burien.” Ptacek then says that they checked with both Burien and Seattle regarding the current status of annexation, as well as with the governor’s office regarding the sales-tax incentive (which she is now proposing reducing by 10 percent). Board member Rob Spitzer asks for more clarity on the process; Freeman, from the county executive’s office, mentions the Boundary Review Board meeting in January, and mentions that they believe everything will work out OK with the sales-tax credit, and then notes that an election would follow. Burien councilmember Clark says August is the earliest that there would be a public vote on annexation.

Library staffer Christine Anderson now says that “outreach” is being done in the White Center/Boulevard Park area by the library district – beyond its library bulidings – and a map is up on the screen. The map shows more than 30 locations, and a copy is distributed around the room, with a sheet labeling the types of “outreach services” – Traveling Library Centers with “monthly bookmobile service,” ABC Express, also a type of “monthly bookmobile service,” Library2Go, described as a “monthly mini-bookmobile service,” local librarians’ visits to schools, and the Techlab mobile computer lab. (So these sites are not continuous simultaneous services, but spots where KCLS provides services at least once a month.)

7:08 PM: After she speaks, Ptacek says they’re not suggesting these services will or could replace neighborhood libraries, simply that they are a “changed condition” offering a wider variety of services than they could offer in 2004, at the time of the vote for an expanded WC library. Staffer Wiseman returns and says there are budget constraints as the fifth changed condition. Ptacek says the amount of money isn’t necessarily significant given the size of the KCLS budget, but that consolidating/building a new library would enable operation at a “much higher level” than either of the two current libraries. Right now they have enough money, he says, to make a 15,000 square-foot library happen – and even though they haven’t done “feasibility studies,” he says they “think we’re in a position to be able to do that.” Councilmember McDermott then stood up to make sure that Wiseman’s allusion to a comment he made not be taken out of context as if it supported the proposal.

7:17 PM: Board member Spitzer points out to the audience that “we all have a fiduciary duty … to the entire system.” He added, “I can only imagine how I’d feel if I lived just a few blocks from a library that is … that may be closing.” But he also says “When you tell voters you’re going to do something, you take it very seriously. … (But) the world does change.” White Center Library Guild’s Levine rises and asks to be able to provide some information. “Yes, you are all volunteers – but you have the full force of the law behind you, and you can take that levy and move it around any way you want to.” She reads from a resolution that did not make it into the levy that empowers the board. “What we did was give you carte blanche to move that $172 million around, which you have done successfully to create many beautiful libraries … but it doesn’t speak to what this community needs.” She calls the current proposal a “bait and switch” and says she hopes everyone on the board has personal liability insurance protecting them from “what someone like me (might do).”

7:23 PM: Spitzer says he wants to hear from colleagues if the case of “changed conditions” is so compelling that they would take this action. Trustee Jessica Bonebright says they have already waited a couple of years to see how annexation will go, and now, she says, they’re being told to wait another year? She also suggests those who have come to speak tonight are not representative of everyone in the community and cites the survey that was taken, which she describes as showing that a cross-section of the community supported the consolidated library. She adds, “the people who will be able to walk to the new consolidated library are not here tonight.”

Burien councilmembers Block and Clark step back up to the podium to say that the proximity of the current libraries to schools is not shown in their survey, and that they are advocating for low-income people close to the current libraries who would have to walk another mile, mile and a half to get to the theoretical new library. “You’re asking that of these students to fit into YOUR system? Are you going to write them a letter to say that you’re sorry, they fell off your radar?” A few minutes later, Duff returns to the mike, asking if low-income residents were solicited for the survey. The answer wasn’t clearly audible. Another man gets up and says he is reading board members’ body language and thinks he knows how they are going to vote – but wonders how they can do that without hearing from everyone who came to speak in support of the libraries.

7:34 PM: Bonebright then says, but if there’s not a decision in 2012, there are people not here tonight who would wonder, how much longer do we have to wait? (“They should be here, then,” says a woman behind us.) She repeats a point that if Seattle annexed White Center and vicinity, the current WC library would be “three doors down” from the city limit. Giba now steps to the mike: “Annexation is not a new issue.” She mentions that at one point while the library measure was under discussion, Seattle annexation seemed certain. That leads to a statement by board president Eadie, talking about boundary issues, and a discussion with Seattle some time back that did not end positively, regarding recovering costs of “cross-usage.” He and Ptacek go into a little more history. (The woman behind me mutters, “Call for a vote” and starts to speculate on who will vote yes and who will vote no.)

7:47 PM: Block is back at the podium to question the proposal again, wondering if the board’s policy suddenly has to change because construction costs are low, which was just cited by Bonebright, saying people in the area have been waiting for improved library services, while Block says, “Well, we have been waiting seven years for the board to make good on the commitment to build a new library.” They are going back and forth.

7:49 PM: Battery’s running out. If it’s gone before the vote’s in, we’ll update atop this story via iPhone. Spitzer moves to postpone the vote till the Boundary Review Board process on annexation. Board member Lucy Krakowiak points out she is recusing herself because she is a Burien councilmember. Rose Clark mentions the council will then have to decide on proceeding with annexation and she now says the public vote would not be likely before September.

7:53 PM: The motion passes. So the decision is delayed for at least a few months.

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No White Center Library? Consolidation issue revived

November 23rd, 2011 Tracy Posted in King County, Libraries, White Center news 4 Comments »

The issue of potentially consolidating the White Center and Boulevard Park Libraries has resurfaced – five months after it was tabled – and you’re asked to speak up before it’s too late. Just got the word from North Highline Unincorporated Area Council president Barbara Dobkin that it’s on next Tuesday’s library-board agenda:

The board has not revealed any specific sites for the new facility other than saying they are looking at property on 128th Street, SW, nor have they stated when construction might start, or how long they will keep the existing 2 libraries open in the meantime. There is opportunity for public comment at this meeting, which is being held in the KCLS Service Center, 960 Newport Way, Issaquah on November 29 at 5 pm. We would ask that all concerned residents of this community, who voted to pass the library bond levy in 2004 for a new expanded White Center Library which was to be built at the same site, and update and improvements to the existing Blvd Park Library, contact the Library Board by mail: Board of Trustees, King County Library System, 960 Newport Way NW, Issaquah, WA 98027, or e-mail boardoftrustees@kcls,org, or show up a the meeting on Nov 29 and let the board know what you think about their plans.

The library system’s rationale for possible consolidation is outlined in this document.

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Details: King County Library Board shelves consolidation, till info’s in on annexation

June 29th, 2011 Tracy Posted in boulevard park, Libraries, White Center Library, White Center news Comments Off on Details: King County Library Board shelves consolidation, till info’s in on annexation

Story and photos by Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

More than 50 community members were in attendance as the King County Library Services Board of Trustees met in Issaquah Tuesday, hoping to have their collective voices heard regarding the North Highline Library Service Recommendation to consolidate the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries.

(From left, Liz Giba of NHUAC, Burien City Councilmember Rose Clark, WCCDA’s Virgil Domaoan, King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, NHUAC president Barb Dobkin)
The White Center Library Guild presented its petition (as reported here) to the Board with just shy of 1,800 signatures. Comments to the Board were broad, repeating many of the same issues presented in previous meetings. But the perceived lack of effective outreach to the regular WC and Boulevard Park library users was pointed out by Virgil Domaoan, community builder director of the White Center Community Development Association, who lives in Boulevard Park.

He joined the petition efforts initiated by the White Center Library Guild and discovered during their doorbelling campaign that people had not heard about the potential library closures and were concerned how they would get to another location to use a computer every day. He pointed out these are families who do not have the computers commonly found in other neighborhoods where internet access and computer ownership is common place. Domaoan said only one person refused to sign the petition, a mother who wanted her son to be present when she signed it so he could witness what she was doing as a civic lesson.

Greg Duff, former North Highline Unincorporated Area Council member who is a candidate for Burien City Council, told the Board that his petition drive at the recent Burien Wild Strawberry Festival resulted in two main takeaways from the public he spoke with: It was suggested that Board members themselves visit the Boulevard Park and White Center libraries any day around 4:00 PM to see for themselves the high volume of computer users. The second takeaway was why should they, as voters, ever vote for a library bond again when they were lied to about the 2004 bond?

Astha Tada, speaking to the Board as a former teacher and as a Guild Member, wore an 18-pound backpack as she spoke. That’s the average weight of what kids carry every day back and forth to school, saying she learned that when she “googled” it in her research. In true teacher fashion, she wore it to illustrate the unwieldy weight children would be expected to bear while walking even further to a new library location from school and home because, she said, there will be no transportation options for them when they do not have money for a bus.

Safia Jama told the Board through a Somali interpreter that she is the mother of six children raised in White Center for the last 15 years. “Every day I have taken my children to the library in White Center. My children are in elementary, middle and high school and university. I am not lying. All of them use the library every day.”

Having heard all of these and many other passionate and articulate speakers, the Board spared any debate regarding convening an Executive Session to hear the staff’s proposed sites for a new library, as Director Ptacek suggested the Board do as the agenda outlined. The agenda was changed and a motion was made and immediately approved to delay any decisions on consolidation until further information was available about the potential for the Burien annexation of North Highline.

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King County Library Board defers White Center/Boulevard Park decision, again

June 28th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on King County Library Board defers White Center/Boulevard Park decision, again

White Center Now contributor Deanie Schwarz covered today’s King County Library Board meeting, and says board members have decided again to put off a decision about potentially consolidating the White Center and Boulevard Park branches. This time, they say they want to wait until there is more information about Burien’s annexation intent; as reported here earlier, Burien is now studying the possibility, with financial feasibility updates expected later this summer. More details to come.

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White Center Library Guild fundraising yard sale rained out – but they’ll try again!

June 18th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on White Center Library Guild fundraising yard sale rained out – but they’ll try again!

If you went by the site of what was scheduled to be the White Center Library Guild fundraising yard sale today – sorry, they decided to postpone it because of the rain. The Guild is tentatively looking at rescheduling it for next Saturday, but will send official information when the decision’s made.

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White Center Library Guild fundraiser sale coming up next weekend

June 13th, 2011 Tracy Posted in How to Help, Libraries, White Center news 2 Comments »

Here’s the official flyer – be there!

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Saving the libraries: Petition drive begins; legislators’ letter

June 8th, 2011 Tracy Posted in boulevard park, Libraries, White Center news 1 Comment »

Story and photos by Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

Members of the White Center Library Guild have kicked off a signature drive for a petition that will be presented to the King County Library Services Board of Trustees later this month.

Guild President Rachel Levine (far left in top photo) told WCN the Guild will continue gathering signatures from all ages of the libraries’ users through June 16 at various locations, including stations at the libraries.

The White Center Library Guild petition reads:

“We, the undersigned, wish to maintain the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries in their current locations;

Accessible libraries are crucial to the academic improvement of our children who struggle to overcome poverty;

We ask the KCLS Board of Trustees to delay any decision about the future of our libraries until after annexation is resolved.”

Tonight at the 34th District Democrats’ meeting, Liz Giba told that group the petition got about 100 signatures in just a matter of one hour.

At the most recent meeting of the KCLS Board on May 25, a discussion of consolidating the Boulevard and White Center libraries was postponed after appeals from the Guild and King County Councilmember Joe McDermott sought delay of any final decision until the issue of annexation of the unincorporated North Highline area has been discussed by the city of Burien.

The board postponed a decision but asked the staff to provide it with suggested locations of potential new-library sites at the June 28 board meeting at the Issaquah Library Services Center.

Before then, on June 18, the KCLS Board will have its next Planning Meeting at the Burien Library which, according to Levine, in part determines the agenda for the next Board meeting. It will be open to the public to attend, but does not allow for public comment. Two days later, the Burien City Council is scheduled to begin discussions about annexing the remaining North Highline unincorporated area. Elected city leaders have sent a letter to the KCLS Board requesting a delay of any library consolidation decision until the Burien annexation discussion has approached a more definitive conclusion, perhaps by mid-summer.

One more note: Legislators from the 34th and 11th districts have sent a letter both opposing the consolation and exhorting the library trustees to at least wait until there’s an annexation decision. Read it here.

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Details: North Highline consolidation discussed, delayed at Library Board meeting

May 25th, 2011 Tracy Posted in Libraries, White Center Library, White Center news Comments Off on Details: North Highline consolidation discussed, delayed at Library Board meeting

Story and photos by Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for White Center Now

We’ve already reported that, when the King County Library Services Board of Trustees met Tuesday evening in the North Bend Library, board members voted to delay a potential vote on the Library Service Area Analysis for North Highline and related staff recommendations. Here are details of how that unfolded:

Speakers advocating for a delay in any vote to proceed with consolidation of the Boulevard Park and White Center Library’s included King County 8th District Councilmember Joe McDermott. He told the Board that the issue of potential annexation for the areas remained very much in flux, since Seattle’s councilmembers have said they will revisit the issue next February, but won’t stand in the way if Burien wants to pursue annexation sooner.

Considering that, and the indication that Burien’s council may start annexation discussion this summer, Councilmember McDermott encouraged the Board to delay any action or vote regarding the libraries for at least a year when such consideration might be more appropriate, or at least might provide enough time for the process to move forward more definitively.

Director Bill Ptacek said that the Board had already delayed a decision regarding the North Highline area and that the interim result of that delay was the Library Service Analysis recently conducted by surveying people online and over the phone. The surveys, according to Project Manager Jennifer Wiseman, provided a lot of feedback regarding much-needed improvements to the Boulevard Park and White Center Libraries which would be addressed by the now seven-year old 2004 bond funds. The survey also, she said, “tested” the consolidation idea via two questions and suggested there’s support for it – in the first question, about 65% support via the phone surveys (800 respondents) and 44% online. Then, when the second question was asked with specific details about consolidation, the support increased 5% on the phone interviews and 10% on the online questionnaires, yielding just slightly over 54% approval online). Wiseman also noted that the online respondents were not representative of the community and skewed the results because they were predominantly white female college graduates over 50.

White Center Library Guild President Rachel Levine and North Highline Unincorporated Area Council members Pat Price (a Boulevard Park resident) and Barbara Dobkin (a White Center resident) also spoke. Price pointed out to the Board that White Center has a high percentage of people without vehicles, as well as little east-west bus service, so the walking distance from schools and homes to libraries is important. Dobkin told the Board that she and other voters who supported the 2004 bond did so with the understanding that bond funds would be put toward improvements as designated within the bonds, not a closure or consolidation. “This isn’t what we voted for.”

Ptacek, in addressing the reallocation of the 2004 bond funds, said that the recommendation to reallocate the bond funds to a new library are based on the “good bids we’ve been getting” for construction. The Library Guild’s Levine expressed her concerns about the impartiality of the agency that conducted the surveys, but also read a letter on behalf of the Guild vowing to continue to work together with the KCLS Board.

A community member and retired teacher who now volunteers at Cascade and works with White Center youth in service projects held up a photograph of the kids “to whom we have a moral responsibility.” Kids in the Highline area are out of school on Fridays early and they need a safe place to study, away from crowded, noisy homes and where they have access to resources, she said, imploring the Board not to forget the children of White Center.

Board Trustee Bill Spitzer moved that any decision be postponed until the next Board meeting in June (to be held in Issaquah at the Library Services Center). He said that he was reluctant to vote with only three of the five Board members present. He also said he was sensitive to the logistical dilemma for White Center residents who might not have been able to attend a meeting 45 miles away, even though more than a dozen community meetings have been held on the matter.

With that, the motion was seconded, and the action item to address the North Highline Library Service recommendations was delayed until at least next month’s meeting. Board President Eadie asked the staff to provide the Board a list of potential sites, if any are known, for a new North Highline location at that meeting.

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Reminder: North Highline on the King County Library Board agenda today

May 24th, 2011 Tracy Posted in boulevard park, Libraries, White Center Library, White Center news Comments Off on Reminder: North Highline on the King County Library Board agenda today

Will the King County Library Board vote to consolidate the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries? It’s on the agenda today for their 5 pm meeting – at the North Bend Library. Find the agenda linked here. White Center Now will be there and we’ll let you know what happens.

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Councilmember McDermott’s letter opposing library consolidation

May 19th, 2011 Tracy Posted in King County, Libraries, White Center news 6 Comments »

The future of the King County Library System branches in White Center and Boulevard Park has been discussed repeatedly during the debate over annexation. Suddenly, there is the possibility that the county may consolidate the two, and we have just received this letter from King County Councilmember Joe McDermott expressing opposition:

To Board of Trustees, King County Library System:

I am dismayed that the King County Library System Board of Trustees would consider consolidation of the Boulevard Park and White Center Libraries at this time.

To the best of my knowledge, a formal proposal to have staff pursue plans for consolidation first became public on May 12. To think that the KCLS Board might take action on May 24, a mere 12 days later, at a meeting scheduled to be held far from North Highline – in North Bend – is extremely dismissive of my constituents. Further, it fails to recognize their hard work in advocating for their community’s needs.

While the timing issue itself is enough to delay the vote, there is also the issue of boundaries and service. For years KCLS has failed to replace and renovate these facilities despite their specific inclusion in the 2004 bond measure, citing uncertainty over annexation and proximity to what may become part of Seattle. With Seattle showing no initiative at this time and Burien having the potential to advance a vote as early as next spring, to take action based on potential annexation by Seattle is shortsighted at best.

I urge the King County Library System Board of Trustees to postpone any action that advances consolidation of the White Center and Boulevard Park Libraries. Further, I renew my call for KCLS to deliver on their 2004 promise to voters and take up replacement and expansion of the White Center Library.

-Joe

Joe McDermott
King County Councilmember, District 8

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Happy Thanksgiving! Time to look ahead: White Center Library Guild’s bazaar

November 25th, 2010 Tracy Posted in Holidays, Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving! Time to look ahead: White Center Library Guild’s bazaar

Coming up one week from Saturday!

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Election Day! No more drop box – so mail your ballot ASAP

February 9th, 2010 Tracy Posted in Election, Libraries, White Center news Comments Off on Election Day! No more drop box – so mail your ballot ASAP

The White Center Library drop box is gone – they’re all gone, except downtown and Tukwila. So unless you can make it to one of those boxes, you need to get your ballot in the mail – with a stamp – by tonight. The King County Library System levy is the big deal today – read about it here.

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Next King County Council furlough day coming up Friday

March 8th, 2009 Tracy Posted in King County, Libraries Comments Off on Next King County Council furlough day coming up Friday

UPDATE FROM ORIGINAL POST: The King County Council is on “furlough” this Friday, but the rest of county operations will be running as usual.

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