By a vote of 3-2 with Chris Winslow and James Holland dissenting, the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors approved a right-of-way designation related to construction of a new Ettrick Elementary School.
The .13 acre of land in question is south of Chesterfield Avenue and west of Paine Street.
Three people spoke during public comment on the issue, including retired teacher Pearl Cheeks. She and Matoaca resident Brenda Stewart objected to the school being rebuilt on the site of the current school because they said the area is too small. Stewart also decried a lack of a community meeting about the project.
Nita Mensia-Joseph, chief operations officer for Chesterfield County Public Schools, said she had meetings with the school district community, and Matoaca supervisor Steve Elswick said that he attended two meetings where the new school was discussed, but he didn’t know how well they were advertised.
Mensia-Joseph said that a new Enon Elementary was recently built on 13.7 acres where the old school previously existed, and added that the Ettrick site is almost 16 acres.
“We’ve had extensive collaboration between schools, fire and parks and rec” about the school, she said.
Supervisor Dorothy Jaeckle said that, historically, the school district and county do not have a community meeting in regard to school site selection.
On Aug. 12, the school board approved a $24.57 million contract with Oyster Point Construction Co. of Newport News to build the new Ettrick Elementary. Mensia-Joseph said Oyster Point also has contracts to build new Harrowgate and Old Hundred elementary schools.
Supervisor Leslie Haley said that delaying the right-of-way vote 30 days would prevent a fall 2021 opening date. Elswick disagreed, but said he didn’t know what delaying the vote would accomplish.
“Thirty days is not an eternity,” Holland said.
“We need to be more deliberate and aggressive about bringing in members of the public,” Winslow said.
Jaeckle, who seconded Elswick’s motion for approval, said the new school site “may not fit all of the criteria we have for schools,” but noted that she wanted to “leave a community asset in the community.”
“Noise from a fire station is just part of being in the community,” she said.
Ettrick Fire Station is located nearby at 21200 Chesterfield Ave.
Elswick said the county has plans to build a new fire station there, but added that it’s not been funded yet.
Elswick said the supervisors have discussed revitalization of the area for eight years.
“How do we turn Ettrick into a college town? Nothing’s been done,” he said, noting the county had a meeting with the Urban Land Institute six years ago about the issue.