Library officials bring plans for a larger branch to Vashon

The future of Vashon Library has begun to take shape.

Architects and library system staff will share three initial proposals for the footprint of the expanded library at an open house on Thursday, April 15 — the first official opportunity for the public to weigh in on the future look of the structure.

The designs are quite preliminary and entail only which direction the expansion should extend from the current library — north, west or both, said Kay Johnson, King County Library System’s facilities development director. Designs for potential building materials or appearance haven’t yet been completed, she said.

“It’s time for people to let us know what they’re interested in in a new library,” she said. “We’re asking people to walk through, look at the designs and give comments.”

Following the open house, library design staff will compile Islanders’ comments into pro-and-con lists for each of the footprint options and decide which one to proceed with, she said.

Staff and architects will be influenced by Islanders’ comments as they move forward with the library’s design — its outer appearance, interior and layout, said Donna McMillen, the KCLS library cluster manager who oversees Vashon.

The April 15 meeting is “an opportunity for community members to speak directly with the architects and design coordinators,” McMillen said.

Two days before the library open house, KCLS staff will attend a Vashon Park District board meeting to discuss the impacts the library expansion could have on Ober Park, Johnson said. Islanders are invited to that meeting as well.

The park district and library system signed a lease earlier this year to permit the library to be expanded at Ober Park, after much discussion and contention in the community.

County library officials, frustrated by the process with the park district, decided last year to move the library to the former K2 manufacturing site south of town but changed their minds after an outcry from the community.

Now, library staff are committed to a branch expansion, which will add about 4,000 square feet to the 6,000-square-foot structure. The $6 million expansion of the Vashon branch, funded by the passage of a 2004 bond measure, now lies mostly in the hands of architects, library staff and, hopefully, Islanders, said Bill Ameling, a longtime Vashon Park District commissioner.

“All the libraries they’ve built in King County are beauties, so I’m thinking they’re going to do a really good job here,” Ameling said. “We are hoping we will be included and consulted on how it looks.”

Islanders who have worked to see the library expanded at Ober Park said they’re glad KCLS is seeking community input about the construction project. Next week’s library-sponsored open house is the first of two public comment meetings the library system plans to hold about the construction project.

“They promised to listen to us,” said Deirdre Petree, Vashon Friends of the Library president. “I hope people will be civil at the meetings and not have Island suspicion. Just assume that these guys are doing the best job they can and will give us the most beautiful library they can.”

Others, though, frustrated that the library system has rejected their requests to play an even bigger role in the design process, remain skeptical about the outcome of next week’s meetings.

Bonnie de Steiguer, who chairs a Vashon-Maury Island Community Council committee on the library, urged caution when dealing with library system officials.

“The community should not take these meetings for granted,” she said. “Their expectations of what an expanded library should look like may not match with what KCLS is planning. ... People should come to the meetings. We’d like them to listen to our input.”

Public meetings

A Vashon Park District board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 13, at Ober Park. Library officials will attend, and the branch expansion will be discussed.

The library open house sponsored by King County Library System is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 15, at Ober Park.

Those who cannot attend an upcoming meeting about the library should send comments to King County Library System at

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