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VIPA Fires Crown Bay Contractor

Sept. 6, 2005 – In the latest bump in the road on the Crown Bay Project, the V. I. Port Authority announced Tuesday that it has terminated its contract with the project's contractor. However, VIPA stressed, the project will proceed on schedule.
Darlan Brin, VIPA executive director, said in a Tuesday release that the authority had terminated the contract with American Bridge Company because of "dissatisfaction with the service provided by the company."
"I want to assure the public that several subcontractors can complete the final stages of the project in a timely manner, and we anticipate the Crown Bay Center will be open for the cruise ship season this year," Brin said.
Brian Petersen, American Bridge vice president, spoke to the Source on Tuesday from the company's office in Orlando, Fla. He was not pleased at VIPA's action. "I am surprised and disturbed that the Port Authority [would take this action] when the job is 98.9 percent complete. We are extremely proud of what we have done to enhance Crown Bay and the St. Thomas community for visitors and residents alike. It's unfortunate that the actions taken are not representative of the level of effort applied to this project."
Peterson said he did not want to comment further because the matter is under litigation. Brin said the same in his release: "Because of pending litigation involving this project, more details cannot be discussed at this time."
Donald Mills, VIPA legal counsel, said Tuesday that VIPA has a meeting with the subcontractors Wednesday. "We don't want any of them to feel that VIPA is disbanding the project, or in any way, not moving forward." The project has 17 subcontractors.
Mills said VIPA would "more than likely" hire a project manager for oversight who may, or may not, be a VIPA employee. "We will make no commitments [tomorrow]; we have to meet with the subcontractors individually," he said.
Mills again stressed Brin's comment: "We want the public to be aware that the project will be open in time for cruise season, late in November."
American Bridge put out a memo to its subcontractors dated Sept. 2, telling them of the contract termination, "at approximately 1 p.m. this afternoon." The memo said the company had until the close of business Wednesday to remove all tools and equipment belonging to them.
American Bridge began work in January 2003. Groundbreaking for the development was in June 2003. Officials estimated then that both the dock expansion and the shopping development would be completed by June of 2004. However, the project has met many construction problems forcing one delay after another
The development, a modern West Indian village complete with sugar mill, has a colorful political history, spanning two decades and many administrations. It has changed from public development to private development, and back again to the public realm.
The handsome project, estimated to cost between $28 million and $30 million, totals about 57,000 square feet, with the buildings reflecting a panorama of pastel colors capped with traditional red roofs. See "Crown Bay Development Set to Open Late 2005".

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