82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 15, 2024


April 22, 2002 –– Thanks to a yea vote by the Senate, the local government's purchase of Lindqvist Beach may become a reality. Senators agreed Monday to spend $3.5 million "or as much thereof as may be necessary" from interest earned on bond proceeds to buy the prime beachfront property on St. Thomas's northeast coast.
The bill mandates that the beach be run by an authority similar to the one that operates Magens Bay beach.
The appropriation came under a Christmas tree bill that had been loaded up in the Rules Committee. It was approved 14-1 with Sen. Adelbert Bryan voting no. The majority agreed not to allow amendments, but that did not stop some senators from commenting.
"You have to take the good with the bad in a bill like this," Sen. Norma Pickard-Samuel said.
The bill appropriates $100,000 to Family Resource Center on St. Thomas from interest earned on bond proceeds and $100,000 to St. John's Safety Zone from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund so both can continue operations. Both agencies are in danger of closing for lack of money.
The St. John Capital Improvement Fund, intended to pay for construction projects on the island, also got hit for $9,975 so the Public Works Department could pay its bill to St. John heavy equipment operator Elvis Marsh and for $65,077 to pay Vanterpool Enterprises of St. Thomas for reconstruction of the John's Folly Learning Center on St. John.
The Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund, established to clean up the islands, took a big hit, too. Senators appropriated $105,000 or as much as necessary from this fund to rewire Kirwan Terrace Elementary School and install lights around the building's exterior, $2,000 to buy library books for Ivanna Eudora Kean High School and $15,000 to build a fence around Kean High.
The Land Bank Fund will ante up $50,000 or as much as necessary to the St. Thomas Cricket Association to repair its cricket field and $25,000 to Waseen Dominic to be used for the East End Cricket League.
Senators also tapped the General Fund. They appropriated $370,000 to rehabilitate Kean High, $25,000 to send Kean's steelband to a festival in Puerto Rico, $100,000 to install a wooden basketball floor in the new Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School gym, and $50,000 for Down Street People to run after-school and steelpan music programs.
They also appropriated $50,000 from the interest earned on bond proceeds to the V.I. Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corp. to build a concrete foundation, floor and slab for an Emergency Medical Services training center behind Roy L. Schneider Hospital.
The bill appropriates $2 million from the fees paid by Hovensa and its partnership company, PDVSA VI Inc., in connection with the operation of the coker plant now under construction at the St. Croix refinery.
Of that $2 million, $800,000 will go for copy machines and maintenance contracts for each of the territory's public schools.
The bill appropriates $100,000 of the Hovensa money for scholarships for nursing students at the University of the Virgin Islands. After graduation, the nurses must work for the territory for as many years as they received scholarships or else pay the money back.
From the Hovensa payment, the Senators also allocated $100,000 to the Ingeborg Nesbitt Clinic in Frederiksted for drugs, $500,000 to the Health Department for its Medical Assistance Program, $250,000 or as much as necessary to the Human Services Department to develop and operate a senior transportation system, and $50,000 for medical supplies for public schools.
The bill also gives businesses a four-month amnesty period to pay penalties and interest owed the Labor Department and sets aside 30 percent of all roadside, gutter and cemetery-cleaning contracts for veterans.
Not all of these appropriations may make it to their intended targets. Historically senators over-appropriate — they approve more spending than revenues will cover — and thus leave the decision on which ones to fund to the governor and his budget director.
Nominations, honor resolutions approved
The rest of Monday's agenda focused on board nominations and honor bills, but the discussion descended to who was born where.
"All those buildings that have names of people not born in the Virgin Islands should be removed," Bryan said.
As expected, this garnered an outraged response from several of his colleagues, particularly those born on other Caribbean islands.
"We all make contributions. Let's stop being divisive and give honor where honor is due," said Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste, who was born on St. Lucia.
Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole, a Nevis native, said that if the Senate followed Bryan's edict, names like St. Kitts native Elena Christian and Montserrat native E. Benjamin Oliver would have to be removed from the territory's schools.
The Senate approved the following nominations:
— Raphael R. Wesselhoft to the Anti-litter and Beautification Commission.
— Mary Alexander, Chaneel Callwood-Daniels and Charles Deyalsingh to the Virgin Islands Conservation District Board of Supervisors.
— Francis E. Jackson Jr. to the V.I. Government Hospitals and Health Facilities Corp.
— Robert O'Connor Jr. to a new term on the V.I. Port Authority board.
All of the senators voted yes on all nominations except for Bryan. He was absent for the vote on Alexander and voted no on those of Deyalsingh and Jackson.
Discussion of O'Connor's nomination prompted Sen. Roosevelt David to say he hoped O'Connor could speed up the process on the GARVEE bonds that are to be used to construct St. John's long-planned Enighed Pond commercial port and a new Red Hook marine terminal.
"There's some foot dragging at the Port Authority," David charged.
Senators also approved a bill to name the Savan Community Center after Romeo Malone. He was hailed as a lifelong Savan resident and author who helped many St. Thomas residents build homes by charging low fees for drawing house plans.
"I have done everything in my life for Savan," Malone said after the bill was approved. He said he and his mother once lived where the Savan Community Center is now located.
The senators also voted to honor Clarence Scipio for his work with senior citizens and in community programs.
They also voted to override Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's vetoes of certain sections of bills. One provides for candidate photos on ballots. Another gives doctors and insurance companies the right to apply for Economic Development Authority benefits. And another funds the removal of asbestos and the reconstruction of several houses at Frenchman's Hill on St. Thomas.
Housing Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ira Hobson said in a telephone interview that the houses were built 35 or 40 years ago by his department. He estimated it will cost $150,000 to $200,000 to remove the asbestos and reconstruct each house.

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