News from Councilmember Randy Corman, your Renton City Hall insider. (All views expressed in journal entries are Randy Corman's personal views, and not the official position of the City of Renton or other city employees. Views expressed in reader comments are those of the commenter)

Daily archives for April 15th, 2012

Library location ballot title is being drafted; cost figures still being heavily debated

Library location ballot title is being drafted; cost figures still being heavily debated

On Friday I posted the following on Renton Patch in an effort to give as many people as possible an opportunity to participate in the development of the downtown library location ballot wording:

The Renton City Attorney’s Office has published a memo with a proposed library ballot title for council to consider on Monday. Council President Rich Zwicker wants the public to have a chance to review this proposal and make comment before council discusses at our Monday night meeting. Here is a link to this memo.

In addition, Mayor Law has published a memo with an explanation of the cost approach used to evaluate the costs of renovating the existing library. Here is a link to this memo.

I would encourage citizens with an interest in the ballot title wording to review these two memos, and email your comments to the city council at the city website here


Late Friday afternoon the Renton Reporter ran a story on the topic, which can be found here

While I am glad that Renton Reporter ran a story on this topic to get the word out, I did feel compelled to comment on the story’s headline which read: “Cost estimates show Piazza library downtown is less costly.” Here is the comment I left on the story:

Comment from Renton Councilman Randy Corman:

I feel that the headline is misleading as it currently reads: “Piazza library downtown is less costly.” This headline gives the false impression that because I am a council member who favors keeping the library over the Cedar River, then I am trying to spend MORE money than my council colleagues who wish to move the library to the Piazza. But as an earlier commenter pointed out, construction of the Piazza library would also include remodeling and re-purposing of the existing library, which has not been accounted for in the cost figures. Given no other data, it is reasonable to assume that this remodeling for another purpose would be similar to the cost of remodeling the building as a library. For instance, the cost estimates of roughly half a million dollars for roofing, half a million for new plumbing, half a million for electrical, etc would not change if we did something else with the building.

Hence, this is a more accurate full accounting of the costs:

Library move to Big 5 costs:
New building costs: $9,337,159.
Costs to repurpose CR bldg: $10.1MM.
Total costs to tax payers: $19.4MM.

Remodel existing bldg: $10.1MM.
Temp relocation: $400M.
Total: $10.5MM

It is significantly less costly to the tax payers to keep the library at it’s present location. Put another way, the Piazza library will cost the taxpayers almost twice as much money.

As a final note, I think if we built the new highlands library first — nearly tripling it’s size– we could avoid temporarily relocating the downtown library during construction– we could simply close it temporarily. This would save another $400,000 with the remodeling option.

I don’t normally do my debating in the newspaper comment section, but I just do not want the public to get the false impression that remodeling the Cedar River library is the expensive option, or that I am being careless with their money just to preserve a beloved library building.

(End of newspaper comment)


As a final note, the city has been receiving Freedom of Information requests for library cost and remodeling data, and my understanding is that our City Clerk is working to provide the requested data and get as much data posted to the city’s website as quickly as possible.