Residents feel ‘misled’ in renovation process of Ettrick-Matoaca Library

Numerous Matoaca District residents are opposing the renovation process of their Ettrick-Matoaca Library on River Road; many feel they are “misled” on the whole ordeal, according to Matoaca resident Edgar Wallin during Thursday night’s public input meeting at the library– the second, and the last, of the public meetings.

A month ago, Matoaca Supervisor Marleen Durfee held the first meeting on Aug. 31, informing residents in attendance the meeting was held to include their input on the process.

But Wallin feels that’s not quite the case.

“We’re talking here as if this is a done deal, and maybe it is – it appears to be – but that’s what the problem is,” Wallin said. “There was a great deal of discussion about the reading garden at the last meeting, and some folks felt that maybe that money needed to go into the building. There has not been one iota of change from the last meeting to these plans because these plans were complete prior to that meeting.”

The $3.6 million renovation project was approved in the 2004 Bond Referendum, and according to Sarah Snead, deputy county administrator for Human Services for Chesterfield, the funds for the construction were not available until June of this year.

And though many Matoaca residents thought the 2004 Bond Referendum indicated they would be getting a new or reconstructed library in the immediate area, Snead reminded them that they had indeed voted for a renovation of their current library. Since monies had been put aside to allocate the renovation, she said she wanted to give them the library as quickly as possible.

“It’s almost going to be like a new library because, like we said, it’s going to be gutted from the ground up,” she said. The building’s electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems will be renovated; its roof and windows will be replaced, a new HVAC system and sky lights will be installed, and the parking lot will be redone. “We have a decision to make,” she added. “We either go forward for the people who have wanted something to happen or we delay and make people wait longer …”

Many Matoaca District residents that night voiced that they thought the county was moving forward regardless of the residents’ input. As plans by Moseley Architects were completed by Aug. 19 – the same day the bid notice went out to potential bidders – it seemed to the residents the plans had already been finalized; therefore, to them, adding changes – essentially their input to the plan – were virtually out of the question.

However, the county also extended the deadline to receive the bids on the proposed renovation of the library from Sept. 20 to Oct. 5.

Many residents did, however, express there had to be other options to pursue from there, such as working to collaborate with Virginia State University, which is located a couple miles down the road, since the library’s property is owned by the university.

“You don’t wait to get people’s input on a construction project until they have their bids on the street because, as this man said (pointing to Wallin), once the bid is on the street you’re not supposed to be messing around with the drawing,” said Brenda Stewart, a Matoaca resident. “It’s supposed to be finished because it costs money for people …”

During the renovation process, which will take 11 months to complete, the library will be utilizing a trailer placed in the parking lot to accommodate people needing to use the library’s computers and to rent and read books.

The Board of Supervisors will have the ultimate decision on the project, which could happen in the following month.


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