LETTER: After annexation rejection, Burien trying to steal White Center Library
So, Burien loses the White Center annexation vote, and is now retaliating by trying to steal our new White Center library.
After our 2 to 1 vote to reject Burien annexation, Rose Clark and Jerry Robison (not the Highline Times publisher), two of the most vocal pro-Burien annexation voices on the Burien City Council, testified at a recent King County Library System (KCLS) hearing that our new White Center library should be moved away from White Center, further south into Burien.
They then suggested that if that was not possible, an alternative is to keep the library at the same location, but close it for a year during construction. Their testimony emphasized that in no case should our new White Center library be located in unincorporated White Center, which is closer to our elementary schools. Their actions are vindictive and appear to be retribution for our strong rejection of Burien annexation.
At the same hearing, Barbara Dobkin, the president of the UAC, another pro-Burien annexation group, also testified that the White Center library should be moved further away from White Center, south into Burien.
She stated that White Center is not safe. So, apparently from Ms. Dobkin’s point-of-view, White Center is safe enough for two elementary schools, but not safe enough for our new library.
These are the same three people who told us during the annexation campaign that if we did not annex to Burien, we would lose our new White Center library. We rejected Burien annexation, and one week later, contrary to their claims, we got our new White Center library anyway.
Now, they are working to make sure the new White Center library is not built in White Center.
King County voters passed a library bond almost ten years ago to build a new White Center library. King County averages one library for about every 34,000 residents, with libraries distributed across the county.
Burien is part of the King County library system and already has two King County libraries, one in downtown Burien, and one in Boulevard Park. So Burien has a library for every 23,000 Burien residents. Now Burien wants to claim our White Center library too, apparently to hold it hostage to a future annexation vote.
They claim that if Seattle annexes White Center someday, White Center would "lose our library.” First, Seattle will not be annexing White Center any time soon (if ever) and even if they did, we would always have our library. It would stay open.
And an inter-local agreement is in place, that can be amended, that would allow King County, Seattle and Burien residents to share library resources anyway.
Our new library is a real opportunity for White Center. We should site this fantastic resource where it will do the most good for White Center, not where it will do the most good for Burien.
We should place our new library near our elementary schools, at a blighted location that needs re-development. There are three exceptional locations in unincorporated White Center that are excellent sites for the new library. One is on 16th S.W. (the old Wendy’s restaurant site just north of S.W. 112th on the east side), one is the large vacant lot in 15th S.W. and S.W. 107th directly across the street from Mt. View Elementary School, and one is the old public health site near the White Center Food Bank near Hicks Lake/Lakewood Park. All of these sites need improvement, two are very close to our public schools, and all three would allow the current library to remain open during the one-year construction process.
Moving our new White Center library outside of unincorporated White Center is absolutely against our community interests, and these individuals know this. Their actions are more like sour grapes than good community advocacy. They should be ashamed.