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Friday, May 24, 2024
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Financial Figures Give Port Authority Board Reason to Smile

The Redhook Ferry Terminal, where the Port Authority Board may allow video gaming.Blue skies are smiling on the Virgin Islands Port Authority, which is enjoying a 6.9 percent increase in revenues and a 6.2 percent decrease in expenditures over the same period in a dismal 2009 fiscal year.

Operating revenue for November came in at $6.5 million, $420,000 over November 2008. Expenditures went down by $475,000 over the same time period.

Pointing out that the improvement was not attributable to any one area, Judith James, the authority’s director of administration and finance, said that the positive financial picture came from across the spectrum of the authority’s revenue streams and expenditures.

The board agreed to a three-month rental abatement for residents of its Bournefield property in Lindbergh Bay after flooding damaged personal property in several of the units.

The authority would like to close the aging properties, which have gone beyond their lease periods and are now on month-to-month payment plans. The authority’s official policy is not to create any new leases and to demolish the buildings as soon as they become vacant.

According to one resident, who grew up in the Bournefield property, many of the residents are second and third generation Bournefielders, as well as many elderly residents.

While staff recommended a two-month abatement, Yvonne E.L. Thaen went to bat for the residents and asked for three months.

“You have to consider what you would do if you woke up and found yourself in that position,” Thaen said.

The board made two significant policy changes. The board created a Property Reversion Policy, which includes reviewing the lease, inspecting the property and evaluating it in terms of value and needed expenditures, determining its highest and best use, evaluating the best operator, and having the property appraised.

In a reversal of earlier policy, the board rescinded a prohibition on gaming at its Urman Victor Fredericks Ferry Terminal in Red Hook. However, the authority’s Property Committee will have to consider a proposal before video lottery terminals can be installed there. The one dissenter on the reversal of policy was Chairman Cassan Pancham, who said his vote was based on his own moral grounds.

In other actions, the board:

• Approved capital improvements at Crown Bay, including allowing a tenant to create a vent in the roof of Building H, to allow cooking facilities in the large space that provides a daiquiri lounge for Crown Bay patrons.

• Approved $400,000 for alternative energy initiatives introduced by the Virgin Islands Energy Offices at Cyril E. King Airport and Henry E. Rohlson Airport.

• Denied a request from the Caribbean Drag Racing Association to waive use fees for the racing surface in St. Croix.

• Announced the date for the opening of its new beach restroom and changing facilities at Lindbergh Bay. The authority will officially open the facilities on February 6. The facilities are located between Walkers by the Sea and the Island Beachcomber Hotel and are complete with outdoor showers.

Board members attending the meeting included, Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan Jr., Gordon Finch, Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Chairman Cassan Pancham, Hector Peguero Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls and Yvonne E.L. Thraen.

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