By Linda Cicoira — “Yes, Eastern Shore, there will be a new library,” Vice Chairwoman Reneta Major announced Wednesday after the Accomack County Board of Supervisors approved a series of resolutions and votes paving the way for the Eastern Shore Library and Heritage Center to become a reality in Parksley.
The boards and committees associated with the project received applause and words of thanks. In the end, District 4 Supervisor Paul Muhly, who represents Parksley, gave credit to Supervisor Harris Phillips for realizing the old grocery store on Bennett Street could be rehabilitated.
Before Phillips and Muhly were elected four years ago, Phillips showed Muhly an article about what was done with the remains of a Texas grocery store. “I think Mr. Phillips deserves the credit about that,” Muhly said.
“I’m so happy the library issue is coming to an end,” said Phillips. “We can move forward. Thanks, everyone for the support.”
Members of library groups have been working for years to get a new facility.
The first action Wednesday was for the county to receive a deed of gift for the current library building from the library board of trustees. Accomack will lease it back to the trustees for $1 until the new building is constructed. RH Contracting Inc., of Atlantic, which made the low bid of $4,383,000, was awarded the contract. County Administrator Mike Mason was given the authority to enter into a contract on the county’s behalf but must wait until the library trustees receive a loan for $750,000.
The supervisors also voted to secure $2 million for the project at a rate of 3.173% for 20 years. They can pay the bonds off without penalty anytime after 2024. The cost per year was estimated at $143,000. The entire project will cost $5.1 million of which $1.5 million is being funded by the state and $850,000 was raised through donations.
Other formalities will include conducting a public hearing before amending the county budget to recognize approval of the project and the bond issuance and the final issuance of the bonds by the county economic development authority.
In other business, the supervisors directed staff to apply for a grant needed to install septic systems in the Makemie Park community. The area’s alternative sewer system serves 28 residences along Saxis Road. Officials said it is a private system, built with public funds, that could never handle an expanded capacity and was not maintained. The system is failing and poses a serious health threat. Grants of up to $700,000 are available for conditions that alleviate serious and immediate health concerns.
While those monies would not be enough to install septic systems for all the houses, the plan is to install replacements in phases with the hope that the existing system will function properly when it is less stressed.
As the planning district commission does not have enough staff to pursue both the Makemie Park and Horntown projects, the latter would be delayed for a year or less.
Mason spoke about the state’s next phase for reducing nutrient and sediment entering the Chesapeake Bay. Localities were able to send comments to the Department of Environmental Quality. Mason said the word “expectations” was used throughout the draft. It was unclear what the repercussions would be if the best management practices are not fully implemented. The state plan also included a plan to increase the number of eligible counties in the poultry litter transport program from two to five and to increase the amount of litter transported annually from these counties to between 5,000 and 6,000 tons to 89,000 tons. In a submission, the county staff asked the DEQ what type of fertilizer will be recommended and how will the replacement affect water quality in the bay.