Members of the Senate Committee on Finance want the music to continue to play and the cement to be poured.
The committee Tuesday morning voted to approve government leases to Panyard People and Universal Concrete. Both government properties are in Sub Base, St. Thomas.
Vincent Richards, deputy commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement, recommended the approval of both contracts.
Panyard People is a nonprofit organization that trains residents in the art of steel pan. Richards testified the lease is for plot No. 6 Southside Quarter and consists of two, two-story buildings. The property is to be used as a training facility and for warehousing equipment and supplies.
The lease is for 10 years and provides for two, five-year renewal options with annual rent $1,200.
Sen. Dwayne DeGraff said the only problem he has with the lease was that it should be for 30 years.
Sen. Janelle Sarauw, alumni of Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, said she was excited to be able to approve of the move to expand steel pan training in the territory.
Eric Castro, president of Universal Concrete, testified that his plans to start a concrete company on the parcel he would lease from the government could be risky. However, he was confident his experience would help make it a success. He has worked on a wide range of local projects, including the earthwork and installation of the LPG tanks for the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s St. Thomas and St. Croix facilities, and he is currently working on the Veterans Drive expansion project. He has 22 employees.
His plan is to use the property along with operating a concrete company, for aggregate storage and offices.
The term of this agreement is for 20 years and provides for two, 10-year renewal option periods. The annual rent will be $72,000.
“It has been apparent for some time that St. Thomas’ growing demand for concrete is exceeding the supply currently produced on island,” Castro said. “This situation will be exacerbated by the large volume of work already in the design phase at the Department of Public Works. The addition of a concrete plant will provide critically needed additional supply as well as introduce market competition for the commodity, which will have beneficial impacts in terms of both price and quality.”
Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory said about the two leases, “Good things are happening in the Virgin Islands.”
Attending the hearing were Sens. Kurt Vialet, Marvin Blyden, Oakland Benta, Allison DeGazon, DeGraff, Frett-Gregory and Sarauw.