Accomack To Develop Policy for Naming Public Buildings, Assets

Accomack supervisors asked for the policy, which stemmed from a request to name the new library and some interior rooms after donors and would apply to naming requests for the county’s public buildings and other assets

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Members of Navy Squadron VFC-12 and retired Navy pilot Jim Metcalf pose Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the Accomack County Airport in Melfa, standing in front of the vintage aircraft squadron members painted in summer 2019. The Accomack County Board of Supervisors formally recognized the contributions of the squadron from NAS Oceana for the work its members did on the A-4F Skyhawk. Photo by Carol Vaughn
By Carol Vaughn
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The Accomack County Board of Supervisors voted Feb. 19 to have the county attorney develop a policy for naming public buildings and other assets.
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The vote came after Eastern Shore Public Library trustees asked the board to consider allowing the new library building in Parksley and its interior rooms to be named after individuals who have contributed or will contribute significantly to the library’s construction.
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The county does not have a naming policy at present.
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“The authority rests with the board of supervisors” to name public buildings, said Accomack County Attorney Cela Burge.
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The building is owned by Accomack County.
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Supervisor Robert Crockett said he opposes naming the building after an individual.
“Accomack Country taxpayers have the highest investment in the building, $2 million,” he said.
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Crockett said he would be open to individual rooms being named.
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Supervisor Ron Wolff said a man in the past offered property to the county, on condition a ballfield there be named after him.
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County officials turned the offer down, he said, adding, “The precedent has been set” not to name public assets after an individual.
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Supervisor Paul Muhly agreed, saying, “The name reflects what it is — it is the Eastern Shore Regional Library and Heritage Center.”
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Supervisor Donald L. Hart called for specific criteria to be set forth about naming rooms, “so it will be very clear to everybody what those rooms will be named after.”
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The board of supervisors also unanimously approved Treasurer James Lilliston’s request to use a third-party collection agent to help collect delinquent personal property taxes — in particular, taxes that are four or more years past due. The action will be at no cost to the county, he said.
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County Administrator Michael Mason told the board that legislation, introduced by Sen. Lynwood Lewis, to add Accomack and Northampton to the list of Virginia counties eligible for a cost of competing adjustment in state funding for public schools was carried over until next year.
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A 15-0 vote in the Senate and Finance Appropriation Committe on Feb. 6 set the bill aside for this year.
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County and school officials traveled to Richmond to advocate for the bill, which would have added money to Accomack and Northampton schools’ budgets to help bring teacher salaries in line with those of nearby Maryland school districts.
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“We are not going to give up….We are going back,” Accomack County School Superintendent Chris Holland said of the legislation during his speech to the board about the school budget.
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Accomack County was awarded a $1.5 million hazard mitigation grant from FEMA to elevate nine structures and acquire one parcel in areas of frequent flooding.
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The buildings to be raised include six on Saxis, two in Sanford, and one on Plantation Road, near Onancock.
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The grant also includes provision for the county to acquire one property, 23470 Holly Cove Road, near Onancock.
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Mason asked the board of supervisors to postpone a vote on accepting the grant until the March 18 meeting, saying time is needed to investigate details about acquiring the property.
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Muhly said the homeowners in Sanford and Saxis have been waiting a decade to have their houses elevated.
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The one-acre, waterfront property is on Finneys Creek, in a residential area accessed by a private road that is part of a homeowners’ association. It has abandoned buildings on it, and also an old cemetery and a dock.
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There are occupied buildings on two sides of the property, meaning there likely would be demands on the county to keep it well maintained, according to Mason.
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If acquired, it would have a permanent deed restriction saying the property must be maintained for open space, recreational use or wetlands management only and no new buildings may be built on it unless they fall under a permitted use.
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The county could transfer ownership of the property to a qualified conservation group under terms of the grant, but has not yet been able to make that arrangement.
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The grant, which will be administered by the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission, requires a cost share of $75,503, which will be paid by the property owners.
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The projects are expected to be completed in three years.
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Finance Director Margaret Lindsey reported Accomack’s major revenues were up $534,914, or 2%, for the second quarter of fiscal year 2020 over last year. First quarter revenues outperformed last year by 2.8%. Sales tax revenue was up 11% over the same time last year. The county earned around $17,000 in interest on the $2 million deposited from bond proceeds for the new regional library construction project. The money must be used for the project.