V.I. National Park’s Maho Bay Beach is in the midst of getting a new look. Gone is the southern part of the old green building at the beach that once was part of the beach’s pavilion.
The remaining 30-foot-by-20-foot concrete floor will stay on as an outdoor area for the remaining part of the structure.
“It will be an outdoor experience area and nice for larger groups,” park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove said.
Crews are in the midst of stuccoing that remaining part of the structure. Hardgrove said it is at least 50 years old but closed in the early 2000s.
The crews are building a pavilion, installing two vault toilets, putting in picnic tables and creating more parking for the popular beach area. All areas will be handicapped accessible.
According to Hardgrove, 13 parking spaces will be installed perpendicular to the beach near the pavilion area. He said there will still be some spaces in that area that run parallel with the North Shore Road.
A parking lot with 30 to 35 spaces will be created across from the northern end of the beach. That area, home to a residential trailer, has already been partially cleared and is in use as a parking area, but Hardgrove said that the entrance will be moved about 50 feet south to get it away from the road’s sharp corner that poses a danger to drivers pulling in and out of the parking lot.
He said the parking lot will be gravel with bumpers to mark the parking spaces.
When the parking improvements are done, Hardgrove said no parking will be allowed on the beach side of the road except at the pavilion.
The pavilion will be available to groups provided they get a special use permit from the park, Hardgrove said.
The project started about six weeks ago. Hardgrove said it will take another two and a half to three months to wrap up work.
The improvements at Maho Bay will run $450,000 to $500,000. Hardgrove said they are paid for with the entrance fees collected at Trunk Bay.
The project is part of the park’s ongoing efforts to upgrade park facilities, Hardgrove said. He said that much of the effort is going to improve handicapped accessibility and to help the park streamline its operations.
A tight budget means the park is making do with less staff, and Hardgrove said that placing trash containers near the roads will enable the park to do trash pickups without having to use up staff time to enter the facility.
Hardgrove also said that the park just bought a new zero-emission pump-out truck so it doesn’t have to contract out pumping of vault toilets at about a dozen locations across the park. He said that the staff now fills the vault toilets with water after pumping them out to reduce odors. They also have solar-powered fans to help with odor issues. The vault bathrooms need to be pressure-washed every two weeks to stay in optimum shape.