New library is complete; lease isn’t

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library rendering
The new Eastern Shore Public Library in Parksley.

BY CLARA VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post —

A new regional library building is ready for occupation, but the timeline to move in and open the facility in Parksley remains unknown.

Accomack County, which owns the facility, and the Eastern Shore Public Library Board of Trustees haven’t agreed to lease conditions for the building.

A lease must be signed before the library system begins the move to the new building on Bennett Street.

“We’re working on getting in as soon as we can and we’re looking forward to it,” Board of Trustees Chair Joyce Holland said Monday, June 5.

“We anticipate to be in within the next couple of months,” she said.

Accomack County issued a certificate of occupancy for the new library building March 20, but the library delayed move-in after the Eastern Shore Public Library Foundation and ESPL board sent a letter to the county April 15 citing several concerns with the draft lease agreement.

Among them was the fear the lease could adversely affect a 2018 memorandum of understanding between Accomack County, the library board, and the library foundation because the lease is only between two groups: the library board of trustees and Accomack County.

During a presentation to the Accomack Board of Supervisors on April 19, County Administrator Mike Mason said the lease does not nullify the memorandum, even though it is only between two groups.

Another issue the letter flagged is that lease terms suggest Accomack County could borrow money against the library’s equity.

Mason said the library board would have to agree were the county to borrow money against the library’s equity.

During his presentation, he said the county does not have “nefarious” intentions regarding the library. He noted the county borrowed more than $2 million for library construction and appropriated an additional $223,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to address roof issues that arose during construction.

“There are, combined, thousands of hours spent on this project,” he said.

According to the lease, the library board will rent the new library for $1 total through June 1, 2039 — the maturity date of the bonds issued by the county to pay for the library’s construction. 

The library property will be conveyed to the library board at the end of the lease, according to the terms.

The library board is responsible for the cost of all utilities and services, while Accomack County will insure the building and will maintain and repair the building, equipment, grounds, and parking lot on a reimbursement basis. 

The board is responsible for insuring the contents of the library, which also includes the Heritage Center, a repository for archival documents and other items related to Eastern Shore history.

The Accomack Board of Supervisors approved the lease at its meeting April 19.

After the library board of trustees signs the lease, move-in can begin.

“The move itself will take a little time,” Holland said. She said it will take a professional moving company about two to four weeks to complete the move.

The new Eastern Shore of Virginia Regional Library and Heritage Center in Parksley will replace the 11,000-square-foot regional library in Accomac, which dates to 1965. 

New amenities will include a large community meeting room; separate, small rooms for meetings or group study; more space for public computer use; and a maker’s space where people can work together on projects.

Ground was broken on the 20,837-square-foot building in 2019, though the project began conceptually over a decade ago.

In addition to $1.5 million from the state, Accomack County contributed $2 million to the project. The Eastern Shore Public Library Foundation raised $1.5 million through fundraisers, capital campaigns, grants, and a loan.

“All parties are working hard and … library staff are super excited for the move and looking forward to it,” said new ESPL System Director Miranda Wisor.

“The new building is ready for occupation now pending the execution of the lease,” Mason said.

The new library site is 24313 Bennett St., at the former Fresh Pride grocery store, in Parksley.

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