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HomeNewsLocal newsVIHA Moves Ahead on Demolition Projects

VIHA Moves Ahead on Demolition Projects

The V.I. Housing Authority board approved several resolutions Wednesday, including one to fence the abandoned Ralph de Chabert Place housing community, and to demolish another, the Nicasio Nico Apartments, which have been vacant for 10 years.

De Chabert, vacant since 2003, is in the process of being torn down. VIHA Executive Director Robert Graham said fencing the property is necessary for security and to prevent trash accumulation. The board approved a $161,216 contract to Apple Construction for the project.

Before the vote and in response to questions, Graham explained to new board member Anita Roberts, the acting commissioner of Human Services, overruns and overcharges would be avoided by the “not to exceed” terminology in the contract and that maintenance and repairs were covered under the contract’s warranty. After the warranty expires, he said VIHA will be responsible for the chain link fencing.

The measure was approved unanimously, as was the submission of an application to U.S. Housing and Urban Development to begin demolition at Nicasio Nico. Graham said HUD requires certain processes and procedures to take place before submitting the application, and board approval is the last step. Public meetings have already been held and the governor has signed a written request.

Capital budget funding is in place for the entire project, according to Graham.

The board also voted to adopt a records retention and disposition policy. Graham said local and federal law were taken into account when determining how long to retain records and how to properly dispose of them. Roberts suggested the information be retained digitally, as well, and VIHA Counsel Adrienne Dudley answered that was the plan.

During his report, Graham updated the board on several projects, including placement of closed circuit TV cameras at the housing communities. Cameras have been installed at about half of the facilities and the others are waiting for electricity. Already, the police department has requested footage because criminal activity – a shooter – was recorded at one location, Graham said.

Another project, the design for revitalization of the Louis E. Brown Villas, is pending approval by the VI Department of Planning and Natural Resources. The contractor, Benton Construction, has been selected.

Lydia Pelle, VIHA chief operating officer, said three families will close soon on residences under the Williams Delight Home Ownership Program. Three applications were put on hold due to the lack of funding and three more have been selected to replace them.

Graham said VIHA is on schedule for submitting the annual HUD action plan. In 2003, HUD took over the authority and managed everything from finances and personnel to procurement and building rehabilitation until control was returned in 2014.

VIHA is on schedule to comply with all 15 HUD requirements before the May 31, 2017, deadline, Graham told the board. He did not outline the tasks but said six have been completed and the remaining orders will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Marilyn Caesar, a resident of Williams Delight, reported the potable water is more discolored than ever.

“It’s not yellow anymore, it’s brown,” she said, adding that her clothing is being ruined.

She also said the playground and computer lab need addressing.

Chairwoman Noreen Michael said the board does not discuss public comments during the meeting. Instead, the issues are addressed afterwards with staff.

Attending the meeting were board members: Michael, George Blackhall, Daphne Edwards, Collette Jones and Roberts by phone. 

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