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HomeNewsLocal newsCZM Oks School, Objects to Lab Relocation Plan

CZM Oks School, Objects to Lab Relocation Plan

The relocation of a laboratory and storage buildings behind the Charles Harwood building in Estate Penitentiary Land on the edge of Christiansted, pictured above, is not sailing through the CZM process. (Photo from CZM permit application)

Coastal Zone Management Committees in both districts have recently been scrutinizing projects ranging from race tracks to hospital labs to new school buildings. Some projects have made it through the process, but some have stalled or been adjusted.

Southland Gaming project at Clinton E. Phipps Racetrack, after being held up for years in legal entanglements, galloped through two CZM meetings in February. At a Feb. 9 meeting, the permit for the project was extended. The permit was also transferred from VIGL Operations LLC to Southland.

On February 23, the St. Thomas CZM Committee approved Southland’s modifications to the project’s design. The modification plan showed six fewer buildings than the original permit indicated. David Edmonds, Southland’s representative, said Southland was able to cut the number of buildings by putting more facilities under the grandstand as it was being raised almost a dozen feet.

Commissioners questioned whether the grandstand capacity was being reduced, but that appeared to be the result of confusing site capacity numbers 3,500 with grandstand area capacity which Edmunds said would be about 2,700.

Another concern raised at the Feb. 9 meeting that appeared to be resolved satisfactorily for the Committee was the timely disposal of manure at the facility. Chairman Hugo Hodge, chair of the Horse Racing Commission, stated the Commission “absolutely” approved of the plans. Clinton Hedrington, president of St. Thomas and St. John’s Horsemen Association, also attended the Feb. 23 meeting. He said that not only did the Association agree with the modifications but had suggested some of them.

Meanwhile, from January through March 2, the St. Croix CZM Committee was dealing at hearings and meetings with projects being put forth by the Department of Education and the Department of Health. Education received approval. Health was told to go back to the drawing board.

The Department of Education project is the rebuilding of the Arthur Richards school, a project which had groundbreaking on Feb. 23.

CZM Committee Chair Masserae Sprauve Webster asked Education Commissioner Dionne Wells-Hedrington at the March 2 meeting. “What if we had said no?”

Wells-Hedrington responded that the groundbreaking was all ceremonial. No real earth was turned. She also faced questions from Assistant Director Gregory Richards about why no one was invited from the Arthur Richards family. Wells-Hedrington responded that it was an oversight and the Department apologizes to the family and is trying to make amends as the family of Evelyn M. Williams also was overlooked. The new Arthur A. Richards Pre-K to Eight school on St. Croix is being built on the old Evelyn M. Williams Elementary property. Completion is expected by the summer of 2025. Plans for the school, which will house more than 1,000 students, making it the largest in the territory, include a swimming pool, making it the only public school to have a pool.

A Department of Health project proposed the relocation of the Public Health Laboratory and the EMS modular facility and storage buildings in Estate Penitentiary Land, Christiansted to allow for continuity of operations during the reconstruction of the Charles Harwood Memorial Complex.

The St. Croix CZM Committee approved a permit for Health last September to proceed with the demolition of the Charles Harwood Memorial Hospital, followed by the construction of a replacement building. At both a public hearing and the decision hearing on March 2, Committee members had questions about a storage area for stormwater runoff from the lab site in Christiansted. In the end, they were not satisfied and held their approval.

Back on St. Thomas in February, the CZM Committee on Feb. 9 had a public hearing concerning repairs to a building in the Crown Bay area. The property is owned by the V.I. Government and leased by Assetco Leasing, which subleases it to Carib Supply. Carib Supply has occupied the building since 1993. Carib Supply operates a medical and industrial gas supply business.

Another application at that public hearing was for Universal Concrete’s request to modify its existing permit to reflect the relocation of the concrete plant from Parcel No. 149B Submarine Base to Parcel No. 149 Remainder Submarine Base, No. 6 Southside Quarter, St.

Commissioners noted with dismay that the building had already been built in the new location.

The application said, “The permittee decided on the relocation to make the project more environmentally sustainable.” The application also asked for some minor changes concerning the actual size of the building.

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