Weigh in on library’s location and help shape Vashon’s future

By Allen De Steiguer

For The Beachcomber

Vashon’s public library connects our community to the world, just as Thriftway, Vashon Market and the Farmers Market feed us and The Beachcomber and The Loop help inform our civic debates. All are vital parts of our town culture; none are expendable. Where they are, what they look like and how effectively they operate are important to the complex daily life of our community. We depend on them.

We have reached a tipping point where our town depends on how you and I respond to internal and external forces that will shape the future of our community for the next 30 to 50 years. This is important. We need to pay attention.

Our library is paid for by more than $1 million a year in our property taxes. In 2004, we supported a library bond issue in the county with an 80 percent “yes” vote. Our library is operated by the King County Library System (KCLS), based in Issaquah, and overseen by a board of trustees appointed by the King County Council.

This external group is making decisions today about how our town will look for a long time. We need to pay attention. We need to let them know that we expect them to listen to us.

The KCLS board of trustees is nearing the end of deliberations on three library options: a remodeled existing library in Ober Park, a new library in the park and a remodel of the old machine shop at K2. KCLS has been moving quietly, without seeking community input for the past year or more. A hastily scheduled public information meeting in January was the first time some in our community had heard about its plans to move our library to the K2 site. The surprise was evident in the reactions of the 150 people who attended.

The other options have received little attention as the board seems intent on justifying a move out of the town core, disregarding the community’s input in the public meeting, disregarding more than 1,200 signatures on petitions and politely dismissing public comments by more than 60 Islanders at two recent library board meetings.

The Vashon-Maury Island Community Council is sponsoring an Island-wide survey to find out what Islanders think about the location of our library: Should it remain in Ober Park, be moved somewhere within the town core or be moved to the K2 site?

Library surveys were mailed out recently to all registered voters on the Island, about 8,000 in all. All residents 18 and older are eligible to fill out the survey.

You have an opportunity, right now, to be heard, to let KCLS know where you want the library to be located. It is simply not good enough to go to work, come home and expect the community to carry on without you.

No matter what your opinion, please complete the survey. If you care about this cornerstone of our community, return the survey by April 3. If you didn’t get a survey, call Hilary Emmer at 463-7277.

Time is running out for you to influence the KCLS decision. Be heard. Now.

— Allen de Steiguer is an engineer and an avid library user who is active in community issues related to the library.

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