Sometime in the foreseeable future, passengers lining up to buy tickets at the Cruz Bay ferry dock will not have to stand out in the sun and the rain but will be sheltered by a canopy.
The canopy is one of many improvements approved by the St. John Committee of the Coastal Zone Management Commission during an online meeting Thursday afternoon.
The committee unanimously approved modifications to a permit originally issued to the V.I. Port Authority in 1992 to expand the Cruz Bay ferry dock.
Ferry passengers will eventually benefit from an expanded waiting area, the construction of two bathrooms, new benches, lighting, and signage.
Improvements include the repair of the concrete deck perimeter beam, new cleats and fending, a new roof for the terminal building, upgraded utility connections, and an epoxy deck overlay on portions of the pier.
The budget for the project is $950,000, according to Mark Pirrello who spoke on behalf of the project’s designer firm Moffatt & Nichol.
Pirrello did not provide a timeline for the project, but he did say the request for bids to undertake the construction would be issued in the fall of 2022.
St. John CZM Committee members commended the designers and the Port Authority for making modifications to earlier plans that were heavily criticized during a public meeting of the St. John Historic Preservation Committee last October.
At that time, Historic Preservation Committee members objected to the design proposed by the Port Authority for a number of reasons. “This is the gateway to St. John,” committee member David Knight Sr. said. “It appears you’ve made no attempt to think about the aesthetics or what we’re trying to represent – nothing welcoming people home, nothing reflecting our heritage.”
At Thursday’s CZM meeting, Kurt Marsh, who serves on both the St. John CZM Committee and the St. John Historic Preservation Committee, said, “This [new] design is more representative of our heritage.“
The modified plans call for the bathrooms to be enclosed within a stone structure on the easternmost part of the pier. The earlier design for the bathrooms – in a wooden structure – “looked like an outhouse,” according to Knight.
The current modifications do not include an expansion of the dock itself, a concern brought up by Lorelei Monsanto during the public comment portion of Thursday’s hearing. She said with the expansion of the airport, St. John should expect even more visitors on the island, but, “We’re falling into a trap, using 20-year-old plans with no growth potential.”
St. John CZM Committee members agreed that the community must identify another location for an expanded dock facility, but in the meantime, the proposed modifications should be approved.
One St. John CZM committee member asked how the Port Authority plans to keep the dock open while construction is ongoing.
“I can’t see how people can use the dock while construction is underway,” said Rafe Boulon. He asked if there was a backup plan to use the Creek, referring to the nearby docking area used by Customs and Border Protection, the National Park Service, and numerous charter companies.
Pirrello responded, “As part of the bidding process, the contractor will address how to maintain operations.”
Committee members also requested that as part of the project, the cannon at the end of the dock near the monument to Capt. Loredon Boynes Sr. be tipped to an upright position – the customary position during peacetime – instead of facing horizontally at arriving passengers.