Library project moves forward in Buckingham

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Plans to build a new $2 million 9,580-square-foot library in Buckingham County are progressing.

The Buckingham Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to designate 3.5 acres of county-owned property on Wingo Road adjacent to the Buckingham Recycling Center (just off of U.S. Route 15 near Dillwyn) for the proposed new library. The action also stipulated that the county’s library liaison committee could move forward with the preparation of “necessary construction documents” for a building that the county would own and lease to the library.

For months, the committee has analyzed the conditions of the existing Main Street library and previous potential sites at the former Dillwyn Primary School and property on Main Street — finding numerous issues with both.

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The next steps toward the project would be soil testing and engineering at the site and the creation of bid documents.

“Based on average construction cost data, preliminary analysis and the redesign of the library building, this project could be completed for an estimated $1.8 to $2 million,” a liaison committee report stated.

The initial plans presented months ago called for a new 12,200 square-foot building, according to Spencer Adams, a library liaison committee member, who presented the request to the board of supervisors. He said the committee recommended reducing the overall size of the building by over 2,600 square feet.

Several other committee recommendations to the original plans included removal and changes to numerous building features, including elimination of a cupola, replacing an open span vaulted ceiling with a simpler flat one and removal of certain corners of the building and several windows, Adams said.

He said that the overall cost-reduction strategies employed throughout the building and outlined could reduce the original budget by one-third or more.

A revised floor plan of the proposed library shows inclusion of a community meeting room, a community reading room, a community activity room, tutoring rooms, a teen library, children’s story space, additional public computer stations, expanded adult stacks and space for genealogy and special collections.

Adams said that the Wingo Road site could prove to be cost-effective “with regards to site development and will provide better visibility and access.”

Peggy Epperson, the director of the Central Virginia Regional Library — of which Buckingham is a part — described the needs and inadequacies of the current library, including inadequate shelf space, limited meeting room space, the lack of an area dedicated to children’s programming and the need for additional space for public-access computers.

Epperson told the board that the current library doesn’t have sufficient lighting in many areas, a serious shortage of parking spaces, a leaking roof, poor heating and cooling circulation, little workspace for the staff and scarce compliance with the ADA.

“These factors discourage use of the library,” she said.

The current library is about 3,500 square feet large. During the previous fiscal year, the library had over 34,100 visitors, according to the report.

Adams said that the committee found that the potential sites at the industrial park, the former Dillwyn Primary School and property behind the school proved problematic and could have resulted in higher construction costs.

“I just want to say great work,” said District Five Supervisor Cassandra Stish. “This is great.”

District Three Supervisor E.A. “Bill” Talbert questioned a planned fireplace for one end of the building. “You’ve done a great job in reducing it,” Talbert said of the cost and square footage of the revised plans.

County Administrator Rebecca S. Carter said that “there’s been discussion that the county would own the building and lease it to the library.”

“I think the committee has done a great job,” said District Six Supervisor Joe N. Chambers Jr. He said the revised plans were fair, “and I’ve got no problem with supporting it.”

“This is an important thing,” Adams said of the project. “A very important thing.”