By Carol Vaughn —
Construction has resumed on the new Eastern Shore Regional Library in Parksley, after negotiations among Accomack County, the contractor, and the surety company associated with the performance bond for the project.
The $5.3 million, 20,837-square-foot facility will be the regional headquarters for the Eastern Shore Public Library system as well as home to the new Eastern Shore of Virginia Heritage Center.
It is located at 24313 Bennett St., at the site of a former Fresh Pride grocery store.
The library project includes renovating and adding on to the former store.
The county on Jan. 29 notified the contractor of Accomack’s intent to terminate the construction contract because the project was not completed by Jan. 28, the date given in the contract.
“Since the letter’s issuance, the surety, RHC (the contractor), and county have been involved in tri-party negotiations regarding the completion of the project,” said Accomack County Administrator Mike Mason in an email dated Feb. 24.
“These negotiations center on the diligent prosecution of the work by RHC, a revised project schedule acceptable by all parties, cooperation and involvement of the surety including additional project monitoring to be provided by the surety’s consultant and liquidated damages,” Mason wrote.
He said the negotiations are ongoing “with the intent to memorialize terms, conditions, and reserved rights in a memorandum of understanding if all parties can agree.”
In the meantime, the contractor is permitted to continue work under the terms of the original contract and subsequent change orders, according to Mason.
If the negotiations are not successful, the county may pursue its right to terminate the contract and seek relief under the surety bond, he said.
A contract surety bond is typically used to guarantee the performance of a contractor for a construction contract. If the contractor falls through, the surety company must secure another contractor to complete the project or reimburse the project owner for any financial loss.
Delays and supply chain issues, including pandemic related problems, have plagued the library project, pushing back the completion date.
Ground was broken in October 2019 on the library, which will replace the existing 11,000-square-foot library in Accomac, which dates to 1965.
A change order to the contract was approved in June 2021, changing the roof design on the portion of the building that formerly was a grocery store.
Supply chain issues caused delays in receiving materials needed to begin that work and as result the subcontractor responsible for the roof moved on to other projects, further delaying construction. Work on the roof resumed in early November, however.
In addition to $1.5 million from the state, Accomack County contributed $2 million to the project. The remaining $1.5 million was raised by the Eastern Shore Public Library Foundation through fundraisers, capital campaigns, grants, and a loan.