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VIPA Approves Marine Infrastructure Repairs in Both Districts

Among the actions taken by the board of the V.I. Port Authority at its regular meeting on Wednesday was the approval of multiple projects to repair deteriorating marine infrastructure in both the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix districts.

The board unanimously approved the award of a contract to Custom Builders in the amount of $138,950 to install new cleats and rubber fenders to the bulkhead of the St. Thomas waterfront near the Edward Wilmoth Blyden IV Marine Terminal.

The cleats and fenders have already been purchased by the Port Authority and the installation will be funded by the authority’s Fiscal Year 2016 marine budget.

VIPA Executive Director Carlton Dowe said that ferry service operators travelling between the BVI and St. Thomas are unhappy with the current state of the bulkhead, which can be damaging to the hulls of their ships.

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“We’re getting complaints every day from Native Son Ferry, Smith’s Ferry,” he said.

Dowe said the repairs will run the 400 feet from the Blyden terminal to the nearby fruit stand, but the rest of the waterfront bulkhead will have to undergo similar renovations in the future.

On St. Croix, the Ann E. Abramson Pier in Frederiksted received the most attention from the board. Two task orders were unanimously approved to prepare construction documents for projects that will repair various elements of the pier.

The first task order authorizes marine consultant CDR McGuire to prepare documents for a project to repair the pier’s catwalk, bollards and storm relief patches, which are all suffering from “moderate to severe” corrosion.

The task order awards CDR McGuire $78,650 to prepare the documents, which VIPA estimates will amount to 12 percent of the engineering cost of the project.

The second task order approved Wednesday awards $62,685 to CDR McGuire to prepare documents for a project to replace the pier’s deteriorated light poles and fixtures. The existing sodium light fixtures will be replaced with energy efficient LED lights.

The lighting fixtures will also be extended to the pier’s catwalk, which is currently not illuminated.

The cost of the project’s documents will account for about 9 percent of the construction’s total cost.

At Wednesday’s meeting the VIPA board also approved:

–                an agreement with FD Stonewater for an office building to be developed in Crown Bay. The purpose of the agreement is to allow FD Stonewater the time and ability to finalize the details of their proposal, to detail design, tenancy and financing;

–                a proposal by St. Croix Sunshine Taxi Shuttle and Tour Association to provide exclusive public taxi service at Ann E. Abramson Pier;

–                a limit on the executive director’s ability to hire temporary employees at salaries over $70,000 without board approval;

–                the creation of a new VIPA position to be called the labor relations administrator at a salary of $75,000. This territorial position, to be based on St. Croix, will involve assisting VIPA’s human resources department in developing and implementing policies related to labor negotiations. The position is primarily being funded by the deletion of VIPA’s HR analyst position;

–                a request by VIPA tenant VI Finest Foods LLC to add a second 10-year option to their lease agreement, which prior to the change was a 20-year lease with one 10-year option.

Board members present at Wednesday’s meeting were Jose A. Penn, Roberto C. Cintron, Yvonne E. L. Thraen, Gustav James and Laurel Hewitt-Sewer. Absent were Claude Walker and Beverly Nicholson-Doty.

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