Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: April 29

Library

K2 Commons not a threat to retail

On our recent spring break trip to Southern Utah we had the opportunity to visit the community center in Washington, Utah.

We found a pleasant structure that was in full use on the sunny afternoon we visited: Several teens were “hanging out” on sofas in the foyer, more teens were climbing on a climbing wall, grade schoolers were jumping on a trampoline in one of the gyms, and people of all ages were enjoying the pool.

I noticed the center shared a parking lot with the high school and a brand new library. What a wonderful gathering space for that community!

Of course, the parallels to the proposed K2 development are obvious. Throw in a health clinic, some affordable housing and a community garden, and it makes me wonder what there is to be against. I cannot imagine a better enhancement to my family’s quality of life on Vashon, especially in the dark of winter.

I fully support our local retailers but don’t see how a community center is a threat to retail. In fact, if more Islanders stay on the Island for work and play, it could be a boon to the retail community.

— Laurel Kuehl

Let’s reconsider an expansion

I have been following the Vashon Library’s location issue for quite a while now, and I keep coming to this basic question. In a world where information technology is dramatically reducing in size and volume, why are we building a library with more space?

One can now store every weekly New Yorker magazine since 1925 — all 4,217 issues, what would have taken a 30-foot aisle with shelves packed to the top — in an area the size of my youngest daughter’s shoe. The truth is one can do so much research with online and electronically stored data today that the need to store paper references is shrinking all the time. Why would the library be investing tens of millions on new concrete structures when a 10th of that would put the world of information in the hands of every Islander?

I really like the library building as it is. It is a well-designed and attractive space. After visiting the Seattle library, it pains me to think of what building we could end up with and what bonds we will have to pay off.

I understand that the library bond passed a few years back. Those were different times, before the predicament that our world’s energy, environmental and economic resources was laid bare in front of our eyes.

I believe we should spend our public resources carefully at this time for the best value to the public we can get. And if our current predicament is confusing, I recommend “The Crash Course,” by Chris Martenson, a concise and well-documented macro-course available free online or on a DVD at the library.

Our federal state and local governments are in debt and facing a major budget crisis. I believe we should do the responsible thing. Let’s reconsider the library expansion.

— Joe Yarkin

K2 issue should be kept separate

This note is about an apparent fiscal and social responsibility overlooked by the King County Library System board.

I favor building a new Vashon Library (or an expansion of the current building) in or close to the core commercial area of the unincorporated town of Vashon.

Since 1960 I have studied and visited hundreds of small towns across America. A city hall, county “courthouse,” a library, or a community center and a town square is essential to the long term success of small towns.

We now have a library and a “square” of sorts in the Village Green. These give a “center” of sorts to our village and thus a nascent sense of coherence, essential to the long term well being of the town.

However, it appears that the King County library board and/or staff have not contacted the owners of three likely core sites of a proposed new library building.

Two of the sites on the main highway have been listed for sale recently and the third has been available, but not listed, for several years. The owner of that site told me personally he’s tried to get an audience with county library staff, but was unsuccessful. To sign a letter of intent to move the library out of the core without investigating practical sites in the core seems very strange.

This note is not to diminish in any way the effort to find a new use for the former K2 ski factory site. But that’s a separate issue as I see it.

— Jay Becker

KCLS: Listen to us to understand

I’m a 29-year Vashon resident and have had close association with our KCLS branch library. Back in the ’80s I headed up the Vashon Friends of the Library group and spearheaded our annual used book sale. In the ’90s my wife left her job as coordinator of children’s services for KCLS to serve as manager of the Vashon branch library, a position she held for 4 years before retiring. 

Based on what I read in the Beachcomber, the community clearly wants to keep the library in town.

My guess is that those who have been most outspoken in favor of moving the library out of town to the K2 facility may have more experience with large development projects than they have with library service in small communities such as ours. My conclusion is that the survey was valid and the results clear.

I think that most Vashon residents, certainly the 70 to 80% who favored “downtown” in the survey, are pleased that we have a central core in our main town. “Downtown” is the hub of the community and the library has always been at or close to the center. This is evident whether one is uptown picking out a book on a rainy winter weekend or uptown enjoying the Strawberry Festival parade from the library lawn on a hot summer day. The library has always been near the heart of the action and conveniently located for all.

KCLS Vashon branch staff have always been very responsive to community interests and needs. To suggest that the KCLS administration has been quite so well attuned to our community would be a stretch. Good listening is the key to effective communication. That is what will bring understanding now.

— Jerry Crosby

School financing

Contribute to the schools

Regarding the potential $800,000 shortfall in the school district operating budget for next year, I would like to encourage everyone who voted for the failed school bond measure to consider donating to the district the amount that they would have paid in the first year if the bond had passed.

By having cast a vote in favor, you essentially have already committed yourself to paying that amount in the first year, and there is near-zero likelihood of any subsequent bond measure being passed this year. Taking that financial commitment and reinvesting it in retaining our teachers through this budget crisis is the best way to carry forward the energy that went into promoting the failed bond measure and turn it into a net-positive for our schools.

To those of you who could afford the bond measure and support the schools but voted against the measure because you believe that this was the wrong time for the district to take on so much debt or had concerns about the way building maintenance funds were allocated, then I encourage you to also make the investment now to help the district weather this crisis by donating what the bond would have cost you in the first year in order to help close the budget gap.

I realize that the school’s operating budget and its capital facilities money are separate pots, but the pool of money we taxpayers have to give to schools does not necessarily need to be so differentiated. While this amount is significant for my family, it’s well worth it to us, given the quality of the individual educators we have experienced while working with Vashon Island School District.

— Ryan Sweet

Home energy

Follow up audits with improvements

I am writing in response to the story in last week’s issue on home energy audits. With mounting responsibility to meet the challenges of climate change, the efficiency of our homes is more important today than ever. To begin reducing the energy consumed in our homes, we must identify the issues and implement solutions.

An energy audit is a key first step. As described in last week’s article, it is a comprehensive assessment of a home’s ability to resist heat loss while maintaining a healthy and comfortable indoor environment. The audit process should produce a report with a list of corrective measures tailored to the individual home.

The next key step is getting an estimate for the installation of the proposed measures, assuming the scope of work is beyond the homeowner’s interest or ability to take on. Energy efficiency can be a sensible investment if the work proposed is based on a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed solutions. This step results in a cost-effective plan of action specific to the home and the homeowner’s budget.

Implementation is the most important step in the process. No energy is saved if the proposed measures are not installed. Performance contracting, the contracting of efficiency-related retrofit work, is not business as usual. A good performance contractor understands the building science needed to address commonly proposed measures.

Do your homework, ask questions, and make sure you choose a contractor who understands and is committed to energy efficiency.

— Greg Kruse, McIntyre Construction Services

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