Sept. 27, 2002 – The Frederiksted waterfront is going to get a long-overdue cleanup as a first step in renovating its Veterans Park.
The Public Finance Authority board approved initial funding for the undertaking at its meeting Friday on St. Thomas. The work is to be part of the PFA's wider Beach, Park and Upland Improvement project which eventually will affect all of St. Croix.
The work will be done by Coastal Systems International of Miami, which is closely associated with major cruise lines, and which administered Miami Beach improvements after Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida in 1992. Coastal Systems, in conjunction with Paradigm Design of St. Thomas, will do the initial design work for all of the projects; local contractors will do the construction.
Coastal's Harvey Sasso gave a PowerPoint demonstration on the plans, including a rendering of the completed Frederiksted park, which will include pathways lined with mahogany trees and royal palms, and a total renovation of the site including the Veterans Memorial. Sasso stressed that the project's goal is to create a specific tourism identity for St. Croix, separate from the other Virgin Islands.
However, Kenneth Mapp, PFA director of finance and administration, said the project's first phase will involve cleanup of the area, replacement of broken lights and retrieval of ballast and chains from the sea. He said there are no other government funds available for this work.
Starting the cleanup effort, Mapp said, will show the cruise lines that "we are doing something."
He asked the board for $80,000 for the design phase. Another $1.3 million will be needed for its implementation, he said, asking the board for $350,000 to get the work started, with the money to be repaid from bond funds.
The work will be done in conjunction with the Housing Parks and Recreation Department under the guidance of Commissioner Ira Hobson, who attended Friday's meeting.
This effort falls within $79 million worth of projects which Gov. Charles W. Trumbull announced in August, saying they would be funded from the refinancing of 1999 bonds and the issuing of new bonds. The St. Croix projects, ratified at an August PFA board meeting, were unanimously adopted as resolutions on Friday. They fall under $6 million allocated for the island's economic development initiatives.
Other allocations include:
– Financing of the GARVEE bonds, backed by future National Highway Administration funds, for the Enighed Pond commercial port project on St. John and the Red Hook marine terminal on St. Thomas.
– $1l.5 million for the Education Department for projects including the construction of a gymnasium at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School and infrastructure improvements at Charlotte Amalie High School, Central High School, John Woodson Junior High School, Elena Christian Junior High School and other schools in the territory.
– $5 million for the Police Department, including $62,000 for a recruitment campaign to be created by Austin Advertising of St. Thomas.
– $3 million for the V I. Fire Service.
– $2 million for Phase I of the conversion of WTJX-TV, the territory's public television channel, to digital from analog transmission. Channel 12 is under a federal mandate to switch to digital transmission by early next year. The Senate already has appropriated $4.5 million for the changeover; however, $2 million of that amount goes to the station's Fiscal Year 2003 budget.
– $100,000 for equity investment in the Frederiksted Mini Mall.
– $2 million for the St. Thomas waterfront improvement project.
-$1.5 million for the Human Services Department.
– $ 5 million for the Economic Development Authority, and $2 million for the EDA's micro-loan program.
The board approved a $750,000 equity investment loan for King's Alley Management Inc. to conduct economic feasability studies, and for renovation.
The board also renewed the one-year contracts of its bond counsels: Buchanan & Ingersoll, Winston & Strawn, and Harris, Beach and Wilcox.
The board went into executive session, closing the meeting to the press, with four items remaining on agenda. They were:
– Status report on Crucian Conference Center.
– Lease agreement, VIPFA and Telarg, LLC.
– VIPFA due diligence questionnaire.
– 2002 summer maintenance program.
(On Saturday morning, in an interview with St. Croix radio host Alvin Gee, Sen. David Jones elaborated on the Crucian Conference Center, saying the development would cost $41 million. No information was forthcoming from the PFA Friday on the center.)
Before the board went behind closed doors, PFA attorney James H. Hindels read aloud a section of the V.I. Code which allows for public bodies to meet in executive session covering certain matters under which he said the four agenda items fell.
All five PFA board members — Gov. Charles W. Trumbull, Finance Commissioner Bernice Trumbull, Office of Management and Budget director Ira Mills, and the two private-sector members, Paul J. Arnold and Roy D. Jackson — attended Friday's meeting. Also present were Elmo D. Roebuck and Housing Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ira Hobson.
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