Windsor library expansion stalls

Published 6:37 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Isle of Wight County has put its expansion plans for the Windsor library on hold after receiving construction bids nearly double the original cost estimate.

County supervisors voted unanimously on Aug. 18 to reject all three bids, which ranged from $627,000 to just under $753,000.

The county had allocated $350,000 in its 2020-21 capital improvements budget to add a manager’s office, meeting space and storage to the converted Duke Street house, intending to begin the 1,800-square-foot expansion in 2021. But the project wasn’t put out for bids until earlier this year.

According to Tony Wilson, the county’s director of public works, the current plans call for a downstairs addition consisting of the manager’s office, two bathrooms and an open room with a kitchenette, plus 680 square feet of upstairs space consisting of a meeting room and storage. The work would also entail repainting and replacing the floors, lights and bathroom fixtures in the existing library.

Wilson advised the county may be able to save 10% to 15% by waiting a year and rebidding the project.

“The housing market may slow down, which would give us a better bid value if we, say, shelve it for six months to a year. … There’s always a risk in waiting, of course, but waiting would be the best option now,” Wilson said.

“I couldn’t support awarding that type of a change,” Supervisor William McCarty agreed. “Waiting until it comes down, I think, is the wiser thing when you look at it from a dollars-and-cents perspective.”

“We’re already seeing the market slow down a little bit,” added Supervisor Don Rosie.

Windsor Mayor Glyn Willis, speaking to The Smithfield Times by phone on Aug. 23, said the town was “saddened to hear” of the delay but that he understood the “reality of the situation” from the standpoint of saving taxpayer dollars.

The library sits on town-owned land adjacent to Windsor’s Wesley F. Garris Event Park. In 2021, the Town Council entered into an agreement with the county to authorize the expansion. The library is operated as one branch of the Blackwater Regional Library, which has additional branches in Smithfield, Surry, Franklin and Southampton County.

We appreciate the county’s partnership and dedication to the project, and we look forward to working together to see an expanded Windsor Library,” said Ben Neal, director of the Blackwater Regional Library.