The new three-story parking structure planned for the downtown library will help guide the Bellevue library to its "full potential," library officials say.
But the year that it will take to get there will be a parking nightmare.
The is getting ready for the expansion of its parking lot, which will add about 250 parking stalls to the library. But parking will have extreme limitations during the expected year of construction, which could start within the next few months, library officials say.
The library’s parking lot, including the parking area underneath the library, will be shut for a year, and the only parking available during construction will be 51 spots at the adjacent , which the city gave permission for the library to use Monday night.
But when the library parking lot reopens, there will be a total of 365 parking spaces, and an expected 5 percent increase in visitors, according to city documents.
“The fastest way to do it is to … use that minimal amount of parking for the short term, we know we’re going to put a lot of people at an inconvenience but it will allow us to get the project done sooner,” said King County Library System director Bill Ptacek.
“Finally, the Bellevue library will live up to its full potential with enough parking to serve the number of people who could be using the library but often can’t because they can’t find a place to park,” Ptacek said.
The new $11.3 million structure will be built over the current parking lot, and will be paid for through the $172 million capital bond that voters approved in September 2004. The bond helped pay for projects including the Lake Hills and remodels, which were completed within the past 12 months.
The underground parking underneath the library will be unavailable during the construction, because the new structure will be connected to the underground structure, said Rebecca Tuck, the Bellevue Library's Managing Librarian.
Though construction is expected to start in a few months, the library already is taking steps to let patrons know about the upcoming construction and parking hassle.
Tuck said that the library will have fliers with information on where to park and other options for getting to the library, including buses. The library also will allow patrons to register for parking if they need to stay at the library for longer than the posted 3-hour parking limit, she said.
Ptacek told the city council that one of the ways they are informing the public of the closure is through the email contact information listed with their library card account, and encouraging people to pick up their books at other nearby libraries while construction is under way at the Bellevue Library.
Bellevue Library Board member Loretta Lopez told the board that the Bellevue libraries are among the most used in the system, and that library supporters are getting in touch with schools, PTAs and other users on the upcoming parking lot closure.
"Our libraries -- the Bellevue library, the Lake Hills library and Crossroads -- our libraries are the busiest. We provide 800 new library cards a month. 3,500 children have signed up for the summer reading program and there are approximately 220,000 checkouts per month," she said.
Other local libraries
Looking for another library to use when the Bellevue library’s parking is up for renovation in the late summer or early fall? The and the were recently remodeled and expanded. also has the , where library patrons can use computers, sit and read and check out materials.