Post-office plans could delay library construction

Here’s a preliminary rendering of the new Kenmore library planned for 6531 N.E. 181st. St. - Submitted graphic
Here’s a preliminary rendering of the new Kenmore library planned for 6531 N.E. 181st. St.
— image credit: Submitted graphic

‘This thing was ready to roll,’ director says

Are plans for a new Kenmore library on hold, possibly until 2011?

Bill Ptacek, director of the King County Library System, said the future of the new library planned for 6531 N.E. 181st St. may depend entirely on the plans of the United States Post Office.

The post office currently leases space in the existing building on the site selected for the new library. Ptacek said postal officials were supposed to be in Kenmore in early December looking for an alternative site for their facility.

However, two weeks before that trip was supposed to happen, Ptacek added that library leaders received notice the visit was cancelled due to budget concerns.

As it stands, according to Ptacek, postal officials said they may be willing to address relocation of the Kenmore Post Office next year. But he added the post office has a lease on its space until 2011, a lease that would be hard to break.

If the post office decides it doesn’t want to move, they potentially could remain where they are for the next two years, meaning the library construction would be on hold at least that long.

According to the library-system Web site, library officials hoped to have the local post office relocated by early next year, with construction of the new library under way in mid-2009.

Ptacek said about 25 percent of the design work for the new building is completed.

“This thing was ready to roll,” he said.

A postal spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

According to Ptacek, moving the Kenmore Post Office would require no new construction and the library system volunteered to pay all of the postal service’s relocation costs. Still, the post office considers the relocation a new construction project, which may add to any delays.

“There’s nothing we can really do to get the post office out of there,” Ptacek added. He said library leaders hoped to enlist the help of U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee in any talks with the post office.

“We’re just looking to facilitate discourse on this issue, looking to make sure both sides are talking to each other,” said Torie Brazitis, a press secretary for Inslee.

Brazitis added Inslee’s staff had met with library officials and contacted a postal liaison. They also sent a letter to the Post Master General’s office outlining the issue and requesting that the move of the Kenmore Post Office get under way as soon as possible.

Ptacek said the library system chose the location on Northeast 181st Street after an extensive search. He said other tenants in the existing building have shorter leases than the post office and seem ready to move.

Construction costs for the new, 10,000-square-foot library have been set at $5.3 million, with total costs — including new books, materials and so on — estimated at $10.5 million.

Kay Johnson, director of new facilities for the library system, said library officials decidedly would like to get moving on the Kenmore project sooner rather than later.

“I think that what’s going to move this is public pressure,” Johnson said.

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