Pierce County Library (PCL): Thank you for your article explaining the library ballot issue from your professional and knowledgeable viewpoint.
I have used and supported libraries for 69 years. When I was old enough to vote and pay taxes, I always, always, voted YES for library issues 100% of the time. I never voted NO when the library was on the ballot. Typically a YES vote involved a small amount of money to support a significant positive cause in our community.
Having a library in our city is a non-discriminatory community asset for kids, students, adults, and retired citizens of all races, colors, religious preferences, and sexual orientation. I support that.
There is now a phenomenon that is motivating me to consider voting NO on the library issue for the first time in 69 years. What has changed?
Historically, when I supported our library, I could use and enjoy our library. We could drop our daughter off to use the library because it was a clean and safe place for her to spend time with her educational and entertainment pursuits.
I could experience the joy of using the library myself.
Pierce County Library (PCL) has destroyed my ability to enjoy our community library based on several PCL actions.
1. While the library uses the clever public relations excuse that they want to save water by not watering the lawn and plantings, they do not acknowledge that fact that the Lakewood Library now appears like a property found in a slum.
It appears that once the lawn dies out and turns brown, lawn mowing stops. As a former professional property manager, I know you have to mow a dead lawn a minimum of every ten days to at least keep the appearance looking like it is maintained and manicured. Even a dead lawn shoots up tall, spindly grasses or weeds that reach for the sky. Our library often has a ticky tacky look.
Add to that all the trash, litter, and shopping carts in the parking lot area and what we have is slum conditions.
So PCL gets a grade letter F for the appearance of the Lakewood Library. They fail to make the Lakewood Library an inviting and comfortable place to spend time.
2. I am 100% n favor of allowing everyone, including the homeless in our community to have access to our library. I am not in favor of converting our library into a homeless camp.
The homeless, when allowed to live at the library during the day, create many problems that discourage a historically willing tax paying and library supporter from visiting and using the library.
Here is a list of problems I have personally experienced or have had friends and library neighbors complain about:
- Sometimes the homeless camp environment creates a stinky odor inside the library that is repulsive. At times it could make you gag.
- Public urination and defecation in the neighborhood surrounding the library.
- Stolen property in the form of shopping carts being brought to the library every day. PCL serves as an enabler by allowing the homeless to possess and store stolen property (shopping carts) on library property.
- Stolen shopping carts are stored on the sidewalk across the street from the library making it risky to use street parking before entering the library. There are two risks. (1) A stolen shopping cart might easily roll off the sidewalk striking and damaging a car parked on the street by a library patron. (2) Homeless people sleep on the sidewalk next to their stolen property and next to library patron’s parked vehicles. Some homeless are car prowlers. Some homeless can attack library patrons with aggressive panhandling or worse.
- While library rules may prohibit smoking and vaping, people know PCL is not effective in enforcing their own rules so smoking and vaping are frequently observed on the library grounds.
- Public view drug activity.
If a homeless person wishes to visit our library or better yet, even apply for a library card to use the library, I am all for that. Hopefully, they can read, study, research, and possibly escape their homeless condition because of what they learn.
If the homeless person wishes to convert our library into a homeless camp and PCL allows that to happen, PCL should not be surprised if the public begins to stop supporting our hometown library.
There is a difference between visiting the library to use library services when compared to simply loitering while not using library services other than chairs for sleeping and the restrooms.
If PCL lacks the backbone to enforce rules and laws to make our Lakewood Library a neat, clean, comfortable, and safe place to patronize, then perhaps they should change their mission from a library to homeless camp.
So PCL has forced at least one taxpayer, me, into the position of knowing if I support the library with my taxes, I will be promoting something I will not be comfortable using. I can’t allow my grandchildren to use the library unless I keep them in my immediate sight and make sure to carry a defensive weapon. No benefit No taxes may become the hue and cry of citizens if the library continues to deteriorate.
It may only be a matter of time before the Lakewood Library will be forced to shoulder some responsibility as an enabler when an adult or child patron of the library gets victimized in some unspeakable manner at the Lakewood Library Homeless Camp.
Having said what I had on my mind, I am going to vote YES for our library one more time, but do not count on my vote in the future. I will be watching the library to see if PCL develops intelligent solutions to the problems outlined above or if PCL elects to do nothing to return our library to its formerly clean, safe, and attractive condition. At one time our community had pride in our library.
Decades ago, the Tenzler family, made a massive donation to the Lakewood community by providing gifted funds to make possible the purchase of the land, the construction of the library building, some library operations, and future improvements for what was originally called the Flora B. Tenzler library, The Tenzler family donated money for a library, not a homeless camp.
PCL, be honest with the taxpayers. Do you want us to support a library or a homeless camp?