82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, August 11, 2022


July 14, 2001 – Fortuna-Bordeaux residents are cautiously optimistic about getting some of their community's problems addressed after meeting with Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, St. Thomas-Water Island Administrator Louis Hill and other top administration officials.
Foremost on the list of concerns expressed Thursday night by the nearly 75 people in attendance was the lack of emergency services — specifically fire, police and ambulance.
The Multipurpose Unit, a trailer that once housed these services, has been closed for "three or four years," according to 30-year Fortuna resident Eugene Gottlieb.
Gottlieb said, "The governor was quite understanding" of the problems facing the community but administration officials "didn't have a lot of plans."
One exception was Ian E. Williams Sr., acting director of Fire Services. Dayle Barry, who attended the meeting on behalf of his parents, 30-year residents of Estate Hope who are 69 and 70 years old, said he was impressed that Williams "had been aware of the problems and was already working on a plan."
The plan, according to Williams, is to recruit and train several new firemen using an appropriation of $500,000 requested by Turnbull for that purpose.
Unfortunately for the Fortuna-Bordeaux residents, Dorothea will get the first of the group of firemen because, Williams said, that facility is functional.
However, he said, Sen. Carlton Dowe was working to identify some $300,000 for a new building on the site.
"The trailer is not safe," he said, "especially during hurricane season. We want to make sure we can provide service to that community no matter what time of year it is."
Another concern expressed by Barry was the lack of police presence in the area. He said his parents recently called police because they were suspicious about a car that had stopped outside their house but "no one came."
Gottlieb said a helicopter pad would be helpful too since there is only one road in and out of the community. This can also be a problem during hurricane season if the road is blocked.
Williams agreed, saying before the trailer was placed on the property that holds the Multipurpose Unit, the land was flattened to accommodate helicopters.
"And it still could," he said, as long as cars were not parked in the way.
The "horrible" condition of feeder roads off the main road also needs to be addressed, according to resident Felix Durand, who said he was encouraged by the governor's response. Turnbull, he said, called on Eduardo O'Neal of the Public Works Department, who was at the meeting, to start patching the roads immediately.
"I have no doubts the administration is serious" about addressing the community's concerns, Durand said.
Transportation in general was another big concern. Gottlieb said only two buses serve the area, one early in the morning and one in the afternoon.
"They are usually empty," he said, because the schedules are not reliable so no one takes them. Added to that, safari buses, known locally as "dollar rides," which operate everywhere else on the island, don't come to Fortuna.
However, that could change. Barry said several safari drivers at the meeting said they would be glad to help out.
Lack of water for farmers in the area also was addressed. Hill, who initiated the meeting between the governor and the community, said Turnbull planned to work with the Water and Power Authority and other agencies to develop a plan to pipe water to the area eventually. Gottlieb said though everyone has cisterns, they are not sufficient to meet the needs of farmers. And, he said, trucking water is extremely costly.
Hill also said Agriculture Commissioner Henry Schuster is working on a plan to lease government land to farmers.
Gottlieb said that before the meeting ended, residents were promised a comprehensive plan for the area. He was encouraged by the promise but added, "We're not going to lay back anymore" and wait for the government to do something. "We're planning to organize a community group."
Along with Hill, Schuster, O'Neal and Williams, other government officials in attendance were Attorney General Iver Stridiron and Sonia Nelthropp and Verne Callwood of Public Works.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.


Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
This message is only visible to admins.
Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Error: Server configuration issue