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IDEAS, CONCERNS SHARED ABOUT MARKET SQUARE

Sept. 8, 2001 – The second of three public presentations of the plans to rehabilitate Rothschild Francis "Market" Square attracted a small turnout but a goodly number of suggestions Friday evening at the Historic Preservation Office on Government Hill.
And that pleased the architects in charge of the project.
"We want genuine public support," said John Daniels, principal of the Yssis Group, the architectural firm selected by the Historic Preservation Office to lead the project. His partner, Chaneel Callwood-Daniels, told the audience Friday evening, "There is no ceiling to what you can suggest."
The suggestions put forth then and there ranged from redirection of traffic to the types of goods that should be sold at the bungalow and elsewhere in the square. Attorney and community activist Edith Bornn expressed the view that Market Square should be for the sale of "locally made products only." As examples, she cited fresh fish, farm produce, crafts and other traditional items such as guavaberry rum and cane juice.
Most others in attendance were in agreement with Bornn, urging a ban on T-shirts and other items not representative of Virgin Islands traditions.
In the first phase of the rehabilitation project:
– Utility lines at the square will be buried underground.
– All sewage facilities will be removed and replaced.
– Concrete pavers that look like the old yellow ballast bricks that once formed the roadway will replace the asphalt around the square and on Main Street between 75 Corner (the intersection by Sts. Peter and Paul School) and the Enid M. Baa Library.
– Stone gutters will be reintroduced, both to alleviate flooding in the area and to prevent parking on sidewalks.
– Trees, historic-style street lamps and a fountain will be installed.
The plans call for eliminating both vehicular traffic through the square and parking within the area. Motorists on Main Street would have to turn north onto Kanal Gade at 75 Corner in order to access Back Street and Fireburn Hill. East-west traffic on Main Street and Back Street would not be changed.
The general consensus Friday was that the plan is a good one. Among the concerns raised were who would be responsible for maintaining the area once the improvements are made, and how problems such as crime and dilapidated buildings in the area can be addressed.
"The plan is fine, but the neighborhood has to complement what you're doing," Bornn said. "There's a lack of will to police these areas."
Felipe Ayala Jr. of the St. Thomas Historical Trust cited several buildings in the area that he said badly need renovation, with some of them close to "falling into the street." He suggested that the plans encompass rehabilitation of these structures as well as others nearby that are unique examples of Savan architecture.
The project is being funded entirely by the Federal Highway Administration. Daniels said the budget is still being developed. He suggested that the owners of buildings by the square consider converting them into visitor-oriented centers where people could get directions, use restrooms and make telephone calls, or even into parking lots.
The third and final public meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15, at a location to be announced. A site in the Garden Street area is being considered to encourage the participation of people in that and other neighborhoods within walking distance of Market Square.
After that, Callwood-Daniels said, the Yssis Group will compile input from the three meetings and illustrate ideas for a display that will be set up for public viewing over a 30-day period. A formal public hearing will follow. She said she expects construction to get under way by the end of this year.
For more information, contact the Historic Preservation Office at 776-8605.

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