The new Skyway library opened last month. Architecturally speaking, it’s a pretty typical, but well done iteration of the modern branch library genre. It’s a nice building; it feels big, there’s plenty of natural light and color. It also occupies a very prominent location in Skyway (you can’t miss it). But having this wonderful new public building points out what a dump the rest of Skyway has become over the decades. It will be quite a challenge to find any other new construction or even another building that has been substantially rehabbed in Skyway since the Reagan era (maybe even the Eisenhower era). Yes, there is a Grocery Outlet that opened within the last 5 years and the casino is always busy; but most Skyway storefronts seem to be empty and surrounded by cracking asphalt parking lots or occupied by weed shops and other struggling small businesses. How could a neighborhood that is a 10 minutes bus ride from downtown Renton and 10 minutes from light rail have become such a depressing and dilapidated mess?
I suspect that Skyway’s problems stem from the fact that it isn’t a city. It’s an unincorporated region bordered by Seattle, Renton and Tukwila and its public services are provided by King County. So when the citizens of Skyway want a problem fixed, they have to go to the county council and fight the other unincorporated areas for attention and public money. Thankfully, the county library system has the money to rebuild some of its libraries and the old Skyway library was replaced with this nice new facility.
So, if you want to take a trip to Skyway and check out this new library, it is served by route 106 that you can catch in the DSTT or you can make a connection from Link at Rainier Beach Station. If you’ve never before made the Link to Metro transfer at Rainier Beach Station, let us know in the comments how that worked out for you. You can also get to Skyway via the Renton Transit Center (again, route 106). Skyway is a neighborhood that has the potential to be a great place to live, shop or go to the library, but unfortunately its problems currently far outnumber its charms.