Parksley has had lots to celebrate lately, but Wednesday’s groundbreaking for the new library might have been the biggest of them all. Hundreds, including Gov. Ralph Northam, Sen. Lynwood Lewis, Del. Robert Bloxom, and students from Metompkin Elementary School, turned out for the galvanizing event.
“I like to see projects start and finish,” said Bloxom. “What we’re going to see today —this is years in the coming. Finally, we got all the pieces together and we’re going to have a great regional library,” Bloxom told a reporter shortly before the groundbreaking started.
“It truly takes a village — it takes a team —to make things like this library happen,” Northam told those gathered, before acknowledging the contributions of volunteers, local elected officials, and Bloxom and Lewis.
“We don’t have but so many cookies in the cookie jar in Richmond, but you made this a priority,” Northam said, addressing Lewis and Bloxom about the $1.5 million in state funds secured for the library.
Lewis, who grew up on nearby Adelaide Street in Parksley, said he was “tremendously excited” to see the town as the home of the new library. “And the crowd speaks to how the community is excited as well,” he said just before the event started.
“The libraries have not become passé,” said Richard Lewis, chairman of the Library Project Steering Committee, pointing out new libraries had been built recently in Crisfield, Md., and Berlin, Md., and upgrades to the Salisbury, Md., library.
“For the folks who have given their time, money: Your dream becomes a reality today when we stick shovels in that pile of dirt,” Richard Lewis said, referring to soil piled on top of the parking lot of the old Fresh Pride grocery store. The building is being remodeled to house the library and the Eastern Shore of Virginia Heritage Center.
“No one is happier than me that construction is finally beginning,” said District 5 Supervisor Harrison Phillips. He thanked Northam, Lewis, and Bloxom for securing state funds and thanked Board Chairman Donald Hart for allowing him to speak for the board of supervisors at the groundbreaking. “He knows how much this project has meant to me from the very beginning.” Phillips’ district abuts Parksley and he manages the Jaxon’s Hardware store in downtown Parksley.
In addition to the $1.5 million from the state, Accomack County kicked in $2 million. The remaining $1.5 million was raised by the Eastern Shore Public Library Foundation through fundraisers, capital campaigns, grants, and a loan.
A library board construction committee worked with Waller, Todd, and Sadler, now a Woolpert Company, of Virginia Beach, to design the 20,837-square-foot facility. Its construction is being overseen by Accomack County.
Anticipate another celebration when the library opens, expected around the end of next year.