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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 22, 2024


March 15, 2002 – The Emile Griffith Ballpark paid parking lot is up and running but, like many a new venture, it's having some growing pains.
One is resistance by regular users to paying the regular rate. So, Ira Hobson, commissioner of Housing Parks and Recreation, said Friday, "We are working on a monthly rate for them which will be about 40 percent off the daily rate."
Opened about two weeks ago, the lot off Veterans Drive facing Gasverks Gade gets much of its traffic from the Government Employees Retirement System Building, which houses government offices, a FirstBank branch and other offices, and the nearby Labor Department headquarters.
Hobson said many of the workers who regularly use the lot have been parking illegally and getting tickets — and complaining. "We want to work with all the workers who use the lot," he said, explaining the plan for a discounted monthly rate.
Use of the lot so far has been running about 22 percent of what it was before the toll booth went in, he said. Instead, "People are parking over by Percy's Bus Stop, and that area is really rough on tires," he added.
The Fort Christian parking lot at the other end of the downtown district went through a similar transition when paid parking was first implemented in the 1980s and motorists resisted the idea of paying for access to space that had until then been free. Then, the lot slowly but steadily regained usage at the former level — often filled to capacity.
The Griffith lot charges the same rates as the Fort Christian lot – $1 an hour or $5 a day, Hobson said. It costs to park in the new lot from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except holidays. Parking is free evenings and weekends — including for ball games.
Hobson has ambitious plans for the revenues being generated at the parking lots. "We're not just trying to make money from the parking lots," he said. "We want to create something nice for our people, make the parks cleaner and safer."
"He added, We've been doing our best to upgrade facilities at all the parks. For the first time in our history, the park bathrooms are going to have vanities. The Frenchtown Joseph Aubain Ballpark bathroom facilities have a new coat of paint and a fiberglass vanity. We're working on Griffith, and then Lionel Roberts Stadium."
The parking lot by the Red Hook ferry dock is in for some improvements, too, he said. "We want to paint and refurbish the bathrooms there and fix the roof," he said. There have been problems with sewage and plumbing at Red Hook, but Hobson said the system is now "back on target" sending sewage to the Coral World treatment plant.
Parking at Coki Point is in Hobson's plans for farther down the line. "I'd like to see a sort of courtyard surrounded by booths all painted tropical colors," he said. "Then there wouldn't be all those trucks pulled up there like now. They could still sell food, crafts or whatever, but it would be an enhanced area joined on the left-hand side with a bathroom as well."
He noted that parking-lot revenues go into a special fund, so the money "can't be appropriated for something else." The money is used together with federal funds from the Land and Water Office, he said.

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