News & Events

Petersburg library construction begins

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2012:07:26 10:39:39

A bulldozer clears rubble from an old parking lot at the site of the new Petersburg Public Library.

PETERSBURG – After years of planning, raising money and nearly three months after the official groundbreaking, construction has began on the new Petersburg Public Library.

During the three months since breaking ground, there has been progress on the new library. “There’s been a lot of utilities work that’s been going on,” said Petersburg Library Foundation Robert “Bob” Walker, adding that Dominion has been working to move utilities underground near the site and Verizon has been doing work to prepare lines for the building as well.

Walker also detailed how the project has undergone some design changes, including the splitting of the project into two phases – the main library and a multi-purpose room. Phase I, the main library, is already well under way. Cheryl Collins, the fund development officer for the Petersburg Library Foundation, said that the overall goal for the foundation is still $12.7 million, which would allow the completion of Phase II of the project.

“Currently we’ve raised $10,114,858,” Collins said.

Bill Gillespie, project superintendent for EDC General Contractors, said that the site work has already begun. “We should be pouring footings and foundations in about four weeks and steel should be going up by late October,” Gillespie said.

Provided there are no construction delays due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances, Walker said that the library should be opening in the fall of 2013.

The start of construction is the physical manifestation of a dream that started roughly 10 years ago with the formation of the Petersburg Library Foundation. Director Of Library Services Wayne Crocker said that’s when the idea for the foundation started. Since that time, the foundation officially gained 501(c)3 status, worked on choosing a site for the library, purchasing property, determined whether or not it would be feasible to raise the money to build the library, and began fundraising about four years ago.

“The economy slowing down didn’t help,” Walker said. However, the changes in the economy did help when it came to the price of the project. Original estimates for the cost of the library were about $16 million. At that time though the project included not only the multi-purpose room, but a basement for archives storage. That is no longer part of the project.

“The lower level was an add-on from the original plan, but the money wasn’t forthcoming,” Collins said. Walker said that it was determined to be more important to build the library than to wait. “This has been needed for several years.”

Walker said part of that need is related to the programs that the library offers, many of which can’t be held in the present library headquarters building that was originally built as a house in the 1800s.

He added that he believes the library will help spur development in the surrounding area. Collins said the increased foot traffic that the library should bring downtown will benefit businesses in the area.

Mayor Brian Moore said that the beginning of work on the site is a fantastic day for Petersburg and fitting that the new library is going to be one of the best buildings in the city.

Progress-Index – F.M. Wiggins may be reached at 804-732-3456, ext. 3254 or

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