Supporters try to save landmark library

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on April 2, 2012 at 10:59 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 2 at 11:18 PM

RENTON -- Seattle has the Space Needle. Renton has it's library over the river -- at least that's what some citizens think.

Supporters of the downtown library rallied outside city hall Monday night, before the city council meeting.

"The library over the Cedar [river] is iconic!" says Karen Hensley, who goes to the library weekly. "I think it's one of the things in Renton I've always been the most proud of."

But it's outdated. Two years ago, voters approved a bond measure to allow King County Library System to annex the downtown library and build at a new location. Some voters didn't realize it meant shutting down the landmark library.

So to save the library, they collected more than six thousand signatures, enough to validate an initiative. But Jay Covington, the city's chief administrative officer, says putting an initiative on the ballot would mean breaching the contract with the King County Library System.

"Under state law, it would be unconstitutional to have an initiative impede a contract," says Covington.

After a lengthy debate, the council voted 4 to 3 to reject the petition and move forward as planned. It could mean a legal battle either way.

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