V.I. Port Authority Director Carlton Dowe declined to provide specifics but said, during a break at Thursday’s VIPA governing board meeting at the Battery on St. John, that the agency plans to bring order to its Enighed Pond and Cruz Bay parking lots.
“There will be some movement in a couple of weeks,” he said, speaking of the large number of cars, trucks and boats that appear to be permanently parked at Enighed Pond.
The Cruz Bay parking lot also has a few long-term parkers. It’s nearly impossible to find a space at the Cruz Bay parking lot during both winter and summer seasons unless drivers arrive very early. Space is more often available at the Enighed Pond lot but there are times in the winter season when it’s completely filled.
As they usually do, the Port Authority board discussed myriad topics, with many of them approvals of actions taken by various committees and updates on improvements to the Port Authority’s several facilities.
Tibbar Energy USVI’s proposal to grow grass on 400 acres of Port Authority property on St. Croix to fuel its planned biomass facility generated a round of discussion. Biomass produces electricity by capturing and burning methane from decomposing biological material such as plants and manure. Tibbar plans to grow Giant King grass, a variety used in biomass fuel production.
Board member Manuel Gutierrez Jr. said he was concerned that the grass they would grow on the property to fuel the plant would damage the property.
“The only downside is if it makes the land less usable,” he said.
Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls, who sits on the V.I. Port Authority Board, said the grass roots would have to be much deeper for there to be any problems.
Board member Yvonne Thraen said that any report compiled by Tibbar wouldn’t indicate if using the soil to grow grass would cause problems.
Eventually the board agreed unanimously to have Tibbar make an appearance before the board to defend its finding that the grass wouldn’t damage the land.
In late June, Tibbar signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with the V.I. Water and Power Authority to sell WAPA power. To accomplish this, the company will be liable for $1.38 million in constructions costs to facilitate interconnection with the WAPA grid. The 400 acres of Port Authority land is just part of what it needs, Gutierrez said.
In other actions, the board unanimously agreed that the Port Authority’s personnel division should issue a request for proposals to do a comprehensive classification and compensation study.
“It’s long overdue,” Human Resources Director Milton Potter said.
This prompted Dowe to note that he’s very worried about the agency’s technical capabilities since the departments are small and those who have the jobs “could leave tomorrow.”
“We must build internally,” he said.
Inferring that the salary scale was low, he said that people with those types of skills who left the Virgin Islands for schooling on the mainland won’t be returning home.
In response to a comment by Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan Jr., who serves on the board, that the Red Hook ferry facility wasn’t as clean as he’d seen it before, Dowe said the agency was short custodial workers.
“And give them some decent equipment,” Board Chairman Robert O’Connor Jr. said.
In addition to Gutierrez, Smalls, O’Connor, Thraen and Bryan, Attorney General Vincent Frazer, who also sits on the board, attended the meeting. Absent members included Allison “Allie” Petrus, Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson Doty and Gordon Finch.