86.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 22, 2024


A Senate meeting Friday on the status of the Nadir "bridge to nowhere" got nowhere as Department of Public Works officials failed to appear.
Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, chair of the Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection, had called the meeting to get an assessment of flood control and drainage projects island-wide, with a particular emphasis on the Nadir area. DPW is in charge of flood control and maintenance of drainage systems.
This is the third time in as many meetings that a commissioner, or his or her representative, has failed to appear.
Officials from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency and a couple of concerned and angry Nadir residents tried to shed some light on the Nadir situation.
DPNR official Brent Blyden said flooding around the Nadir gut would be aggravated by the "jungle" growing there. He said just beyond the gut there are trees and bushes, garbage and illegal fill. Flooding will only be aggravated by this situation, he said. Downstream of the gut, a similar situation exists at the Clinton E. Phipps Racetrack, he said.
Blyden said a clear path for water needs to be established downstream of the Nadir Bridge, and the entire gut needs to be stripped of vegetation and lined with large rocks to preserve the bank.
DPNR issues permits for proposed projects, but it is DPW that must do the work. Janice Hodge, director of Coastal Zone Management, said that on July 10 DPW was given permission to conduct cleanup activities at the Nadir gut.
So far, no work has been done. Donastorg said Public Works "must take immediate action – even a minor storm has these residents under two feet of water."
Luz Wade and Maria Griffin, who have lived in the Nadir area since 1983, have "had enough," they said.
Wade said she has asked for help for 18 years and gotten nowhere. "I want some kind of answer," she said. Griffin echoed Wade's sentiments, imploring "I can't take it no more."
Both residents recalled crawling on their roof after swimming through several feet of water in one storm which was not even a hurricane.
The senators voted to subpoena DPW to appear at the next meeting. Donastorg had notified Wayne Callwood, acting DPW commissioner, to appear at the meeting. He had requested specific information on the Nadir bridge project, which was initiated in 1996 but never completed.
Callwood responded Thursday that he couldn't attend. Without critical testimony from DPW, the status of Nadir hangs in the balance.
Adding a bit of levity to the proceedings, Donastorg suggested making the bridge a monument, or connecting St. Thomas and St. John or Water Island with it.

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