Feb 27, 2005 – As there must have been a dark side to Sunday Market Square in Christiansted in the 1700s and early 1800s, when slaves came to the square to sell vegetables in hopes of earning enough to buy their freedom, a dark under current ran through the festivities Sunday marking the completion of its renovation. But the positive side tended to win out.
Lester White, who pastors the Luthern church just a few blocks from the square, more recently known as Times Square, started the ceremony by giving thanks for the positive change to Christiansted.
Roger Dewey, executive director of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, was blunt with his words. He said shopping centers had stolen the guts from many towns. He said, "This will help to restore the guts to our town. It is just a step."
He added that the project shows that "donors make a difference." He said the role of the Foundation, which was the prime mover behind the project, was to channel grants and contributions to projects that would benefit the community.
Robert Moorehead, assistant commissioner of the Department of Public Works, said 12 government agencies partnered with private organizations to make the project happen. However, a voice yelled from the audience, "You didn't do anything."
Moorehead's comment about one of two buildings on the corner of the square, which are still in bad shape, brought another yell from the crowd, "Fix it." Moorehead said his wife was born in one building and, if it was for sale, he would buy it.
Gregory R. Francis, St. Croix administator and master of ceremonies, responded that the assistant commissioner might be able to buy it from Alex Moorhead, vice-president at Hovensa, but he better do it quickly because Francis had directed the Fire Department to write up citations concerning the bad shape of the buildings.
Dewey said he heard Saturday from the owner of the other building and renovations for it were being planned. Francis stated the citation process would continue until actual work on the building was done.
After those exchanges the ceremony went back to focusing on the positive while the couple hundred people on the square frequented food and craft booths.
Dewey said a fund raiser was starting "right now" to renovate the theater on the square. He said, "Just think what it would be like to have 300 to 400 more people coming downtown in the evening."
It was pointed out that Christiansted was the oldest planned Danish town and that probably only Philadelphia and Savannah are older planned towns in the United States.
The planning of the town allowed for public spaces that were not allowed for in Charlotte Amalie. The Sunday Market Square is about eight blocks up from the area around Fort Christianvaern, another public area. The two main streets Company and King lead to and border those public areas.
Moorehead said in his remarks, "The winds of change have descended on St. Croix." He cited the extension of the boardwalk and the proposed fixing of Midland Road. He said all public roads would be fixed in 60 days.
A voice called from the crowd, "Is that a promise, 60 days?"
The $1.5 million redevelopment project was a partnership project of the St. Croix Foundation and the V.I. government, with Federal Highway Administration funding.
(See "Times Square Renovations to Take 10 Months").
Kathleen Dena sang the National Anthem and the Virgin Islands March. Vargrave Richards, acting governor, and Senate President Lorraine Berry attended.
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