The final thumbs up hasn’t yet been given, but V.I. Port Authority officials were more optimistic than earlier about getting the long talked about Crown Bay dredging project off the ground.
During a special session last July, senators approved a Coastal Zone Management permit to dredge off St. Thomas for cruise ships. The permit allowed VIPA to dredge the East Gregorie Channel in Crown Bay and a section of the area along the northern portion of the pier at the Austin "Babe" Monsanto Marine Terminal.
During another board meeting in August 2014, VIPA Executive Director Carlton “Ital” Dowe said the authority was moving ahead with negotiations on a contract for half the project, dredging the Crown Bay Marina, which already cleared the Army Corps of Engineers. Dowe said VIPA was in negotiations with the one contractor that responded when the project was put out to bid, but was waiting for the second half of the project – dredging the East Gregorie Channel – to get approval from one more agency before moving on to the Army Corps of Engineers.
In November, the first phase of the project was complete, but VIPA staff said the permitting for the second phase was still in the hands of the Army Corps. During VIPA’s board meeting Wednesday, however, Gregory said the permit had met the agency’s final three requirements and was now in the final review phase.
To help things along, the board ratified a poll vote taken earlier this month authorizing VIPA staff to obtain a five-year letter of credit from Banco Popular on a $600,000 line being used as collateral for project mitigation and continued monitoring, according to officials.
In other news, the board also:
– ratified a Jan. 26 poll vote approving an adjustment in the capital investment requirement for Emerald Beach Resort and Carib Beach Hotel. At its meeting last month, the board approved a 50-year lease for each hotel and, according to Wednesday’s vote, required a $10 million investment over the next 15 years for each property;
– approved a five-year lease renewal for Fleming’s Transport Co. for office and warehouse space at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix. According to the vote, the lease on the space will increase over three years, going from $7.25 per square foot to $10 per square foot;
– and approved a modified lease agreement with Rashidi Clenance of Win Mill Sports Bar in Crown Bay Center, St. Thomas, which would allow him to expand his food menu, set up four video lottery terminals and provide free Internet. The board denied Clenance’s request to set up a food cart outside or Internet café inside, along with a request to barbeque on the porch of the facility.