Residents Air Concerns Over Library's Plans For White Center & Boulevard Park Branches

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by Ralph Nichols

Although Puget Sound Park no longer is under consideration as a potential site for a new King County library, White Center and Boulevard Park residents remain concerned about the future of their community libraries.

And little was said to ease their fears when the Planning Committee of the King County Library System (KCLS), chaired by library trustee Lucy Krakowiak, who is also a Burien City Councilwoman, met at the Burien Library on Thursday, Jan. 14.

Library system Director Bill Ptacek did tell those in attendance from the Highline area “the park is no longer an issue.” In November, the library system considered buying Puget Sound Park as the site for a new facility to consolidate White Center and Boulevard Park libraries.

But the planning committee also got their first look at a list of goals and metrics for a Library System Area Analysis that, Ptacek said, would help determine “the equitable distribution of library resources” throughout the library district.

This process will guide the trustees in identifying what is needed to provide good library service, rather than just responding to “who talks the loudest,” he added.

Board of trustees president Robert Spitzer later observed that if their goal system wide is to be “oriented toward consolidation,” then the most equitable approach would be to “build a 200,000 square foot library in the center of our service area.”

“There is a balance to be reached between efficiencies and meeting community needs,” Spitzer continued. That includes “considering the level of community involvement and access.”

KCLS Director Bill Ptacek

Rachel Levine, a member of the White Center Library Guild, said the “metrics don’t mean anything if they don’t meet the needs” of these under-served communities.

Noting that the 2004 library bond issue, passed by voters throughout the library district, included funds for new or expanded library buildings in White Center and Boulevard Park, Levine asked, “Why should we wait for that new library with the money there?”

Ptacek said the metrics would be only the first step in a process for siting any new library. “The nature of the library business is changing, with outreach and technology,” he noted. “There is more to it than just four walls … it is old fashioned to look at a library building only.”

But, responded Levine, “Library buildings are important because that’s where it happens … we have a very proud history [at the White Center Library] and we intend to keep it.”

Highline residents will have an opportunity to address the library trustees during public comment at board meetings on Jan. 26 and Feb. 23. Both meetings begin at 5 p.m. at the library administration’s administrative offices at 960 Newport Way NW in Issaquah.

The February meeting includes the board’s quarterly public forum at which those speaking can take longer to make their points than the usual three minutes.

North Highline’s community libraries became an issue in November when word got out that former King County Executive Kurt Triplett had entered into an agreement that would sell Puget Sound Park at 1st Ave. S. and SW 126th St. to the library system.

The library system planned to use the park as the site for a new facility, where the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries then would be consolidated.

However, Burien objected to the sale of the park, which is in southern North Highline that will be annexed by the city on April 1. Two weeks ago, new King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that the county will cede the park to Burien as part of annexation.

The future of the two libraries, which is a library system and not a city issue, remains unresolved.

Before the Planning Committee meeting started, some in attendance criticized Ptacek and Krakowiak for sitting with their backs to the audience and indicating they would not introduce themselves. Introductions by the trustees and staff subsequently were made.

So…what do YOU think the King County Library System should do? Please take our Poll, or leave a Comment below…

Do you think that the King Co. Library System should consolidate the White Center & Boulevard Park branches?

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4 Responses to “Residents Air Concerns Over Library's Plans For White Center & Boulevard Park Branches”
  1. The White Center and Boulevard Park Library branches are important neighborhood resources and community focal points. That the KCLS is EVEN considering eliminating these facilities shows a callousness and failure to consider the special needs of the BP and WC neighborhoods. Why must facilities in BP and WC be consolidated and not those on the Eastside which has a much lower rate of economically disadvantaged citizens and recent immigrants? Same old story, the rich dump on the poor, the politically connected get the spoils.

    Shame on Councilmember Krakowiac for not fighting for our neighbors to the North and especially Burien’s own (April 1) citizens in Boulevard Park.

    I’m going to ask my colleagues on the Burien CIty Council to pass a resolution asking the KCLS to keep these facilities open.

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  2. Concerned Citizen says:

    I agree with Mr Block in that the libraries in White Center and Boulevard Park are very important to the neighborhood. I also agree that City Councilperson Lucy Krakowiac is not fighting for the residence of North Highline. On April 1st Ms. Krakowiac will be a representative of these same people. Will she give us the cold shoulder then knowing that we will then be voting citizens in Burien. The citizens of Burien and North Highline need to speak up at the ballot box against Lucy Krakowiac when she runs again in 2011. We may be the poor people in White Center to you, Lucy, but our vote counts just as much as the richer people you apparantly support.

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  3. Rob says:

    What I want to know is why they ever considered Puget Sound Park as “Suitable” to begin with? It is a good distance between both libraries, and less than 4 miles from the new Burien library. You don’t mean to tell me their isn’t suitable land in white Center and/or Boulevard Park? Wait there is- on the current library sites!!! Gee- then the money wont be spent to buy land and could be used for for the building- Guess I’m just simple.

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  4. Cathy Taylor says:

    Perhaps KCLS would consider discussing the issue & making decisions not from Issaquah but rather from the communities in question – meet there to ask those patrons their opinions, then base their decisions on what is in the best interest of the community.
    Cathy Taylor
    Boulevard Park Library Guild

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