May 21, 2007 - Acting Public Works Commissioner Darryl A. Smalls told residents of St. Croixs Estate Williams Delight he hopes to leave as his legacy a comprehensive road plan for the territory.
Smalls and engineer Roberto Cintron gave a progress report on work in Williams Delight, then answered pointed questions from clearly frustrated members of the Williams Delight Homeowners Association Sunday at the neighborhoods Multi-Purpose Center on 4th Avenue.
Work on drainage and roads in the community began around the end of January. Both Williams Delight and the area around Ricardo Richards and White Bay Road have previously been approved for repair funds. In both cases, work was delayed well beyond the initially announced work schedule.
At both locations, one of the reasons for delay was the determination by the road-paving contractor, Virgin Islands Asphalt and Paving Company, that substantial drainage work needed to be done or the contracted road work would be quickly destroyed by flooding and flowing water.
In January, Cintron said the work in Williams Delight should take about nine months. At Sundays meeting, Cintron said there is $700,000 for the road work, but no money has been appropriated as of yet for the drainage work that must be done first.
Cintron gave a PowerPoint presentation with before and after photos of the drainage work done over the last few months in Williams Delight. He then pulled up a detailed drainage map and plan onto the projector. Several concrete culverts have been constructed. Some asphalt paving is down, along with cement gutters, aprons and swales to ease the flow of water out of the area and reduce standing water. Residents expressed frustration with how long theyve been living with regular flooding and standing water.
Should the government pick one part of St. Croix and do it well, not go at it piecemeal here and there, without really fixing anything right? said Maudry Benjamin, secretary of the Homeowners Association.
What you are saying goes right to my plans, Smalls said. In my tenure in this office, my aim is to develop a comprehensive plan for the roads and drainage going out 20 years; a comprehensive plan for how we want to go forward. But because we are Public Works, we have to address crises as they develop, and resources are limited, so please work with us as we move forward.
Although glad to see work being done, residents had criticism for some aspects of the project.
Right by here, the water comes out of the culvert and has to go around the corner to get to the next culvert, said Phyllis Blackman, newly elected president of the Homeowners Association. Weve tried talking to Tip Top Construction, but they dont pay any attention.
Cintron said the best approach was to call or write Public Works.
When the government of the Virgin Islands contracts with a vendor, they are answerable to the government, Cintron said. When you have a complaint, they cannot — they are not allowed to make changes on their own, so call us. But keep in mind all of these changes have costs associated with them, which means we have to find funding.
Cintron asked the residents to reserve judgment on the work being done until the work is complete.
When asked if they were on schedule, and if they are satisfied with how things are going, Cintron and Smalls said they were.
Satisfied? Yes, so far, Cintron said. The box culvert will be our biggest challenge coming up. As far as the schedule goes, we are going to go past the schedule anticipated in August 2006. If the utility maps are accurate when we start digging the culvert, we should be okay. If not, I cant tell you with certainty how long it will take.
A box culvert is a large, often rectangular, formed concrete culvert pipe, able to carry high volumes of drainage underground. Cintron has said previously that such a culvert is necessary to carry enough water away quickly enough to prevent flooding.
This is going to be a new day, Cintron said. We cant do everything, but we can get started. I will be here regularly to walk the streets and see how everything is coming. And there will be many more meetings like this.
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