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Library location: Parking garage will tempt terrorists
I was concerned to see that the Oak Harbor City Council is considering a new library downtown on a site that would require parking in a garage underneath the library.
We are now in the early stages of a war where the enemy's primary weapon is terror. Since Sept. 11, the U.S. has managed to contain terrorist incidents outside the U.S., but we should not assume that will continue to be the case. Prudence requires that we consider the possibility of terrorist incidents in our future.
A parking garage underneath an unguarded public facility is a natural candidate for a car bomb. The first attack of our current war was a car-bomb attack in an underground garage under the World Trade Center buildings in 1993. That bombing is now fading from our memories, superceded by the Sept. 11 attacks, but we dare not forget so quickly. Car bombs are inexpensive, devastating weapons, and we should not imagine that the enemy will not use them again and again. They have done so overseas, and it is only a matter of time until they begin using them in the U.S. It seems especially unwise to design a vulnerable facility in a Navy town.
If terrorists begin targeting underground parking in other towns, we might find ourselves having to abandon the underground garage beneath our public library. What would be the effect downtown if we put a new library there and then had to discontinue using the underground garage? It would not only cripple the library, but would impose a terrible parking problem on downtown businesses. An underground parking garage is potentially a lose/lose proposition.
An alternate location exists at the ballfields on Jerome Street. It would cost less $2 million less. The site is large enough to accommodate plenty of parking (not underneath the library) and room to expand. It is near our new middle school as well as Oak Harbor Elementary School and Oak Harbor Christian School. It would involve easy negotiations with the landowner (the public school system) instead of potentially difficult commercial landowners downtown. Jerome Street is the place to build.
It would be a good thing to redevelop the downtown area, but a library with parking underneath is not the way to do that.