Speech given at the Seattle Public Library Board of Trustees meeting, 22 Feb 2000

Wendi Dunlap-Simpson

Hello. As you know, my name is Wendi Dunlap Simpson, and my husband, Jason, and I own one of the threatened homes on the 17th and Stevens, or "Chin" site on Beacon Hill. We bought a home on Beacon Hill because it is a neighborhood we love, and a home that is so perfect for us we can't imagine ever moving out. We love our home so much we even got married there, right in front of our fireplace on a snowy night in December 1996.

When I was a child, my uncle promised me that someday he'd take me to visit the downtown library. I looked forward to that visit so much -- he told me that it was a giant building full of books, and I couldn't imagine anything better! He never got to take me to the downtown library, but I spent many happy hours in the Lake City and Northeast branches as a child and teenager. Libraries mean (and have meant) a lot to me in my life, and I find it incomprehensible that I am now in danger of losing my home to one.

We need wonderful new libraries to bring us into the 21st Century. But please don't let that undeniable fact blind you to the real right and wrong here. It is wrong to take peoples' homes for this purpose. There is absolutely no reason why this branch couldn't be built on a site that wouldn't drive anyone out of their homes.

A library is meant to be an enhancement to a neighborhood, not a replacement for a neighborhood. You can build the greatest library in the world, but if people are forced from their homes to build it, it's no credit to the neighborhood, the city, or the library system that built it.

Libraries are supposed to stand for:

...but if the Chin site is chosen, the Beacon Hill branch of the Seattle Public Library will instead stand for:

I appeal to you one more time (along with more than 40 of my neighbors who signed this petition to save the Chin site from destruction); make the right decision -- give Beacon Hill a wonderful library branch without destroying any housing. The 17th and Stevens site should remain what it is now; affordable family housing.

Thank you.