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HomeNewsArchivesCRUZ BAY CAN GET 'GATEWAY' ADVICE - IF IT WANTS

CRUZ BAY CAN GET 'GATEWAY' ADVICE – IF IT WANTS

National Park Service officials say they're ready to talk to community groups on St. John about planning the future of Cruz Bay.
However, V.I. National Park Supt. Russell Berry Jr. said, consultants from the NPS Planning and Design Office will be available only if St. John residents can agree that they want their help.
In the early 1980s, the park service developed a "Gateway" community program to assist towns and villages located near large-tract national parks across the United States. As the numbers of visitors increased at those parks, Berry explained, NPS officials recognized that some of those small communities were being overwhelmed.
The Gateway program was designed to provide planning services to localities lacking the resources to hire a professional planner on their own, he said.
Berry cited Sitka, Alaska, about a hundred miles south of Juneau at the edge of the Sitka National Historic Park, as an example of a Gateway town. He called Provincetown, Mass., just outside the Cape Cod National Seashore, a "perfect example of a Gateway community."
In those towns, officials with the help of planners found ways to make their communities more user friendly to visitors by taking a variety of steps — such things as installing signs, rearranging traffic patterns, even deciding to impose uniformity of building construction, giving some of the towns a distinct architectural character.
How, exactly, did the National Park Service experts help the town leaders? "They didn't," Berry replied.
"The park service didn't do anything," he explained. "That is the community effort. We're not going to spend the money on planning for planning's sake. It's a bootstrap operation."
Communities that have successfully utilized available NPS planning services have gone on to research and procure their own grant money and do all the work to put the agreed-upon improvements into effect, he said.
St. John would seem to be a natural candidate for the program. With a population of about 5,400 and park visitation up to 1.2 million persons annually, St. John has seen increased demands on its resources as it plays host to one of the National Park Service's most popular destinations.
In fact, word about the Gateway program reached the Virgin Islands in 1998, Berry said, but the idea generated little enthusiasm then. "There has to be a broad coalition of community organizations that would be willing to do this," he said, "and so far, that has not materialized."
National Park Service consultant Jim Owens is ready and willing to find out if the timing is better now. Next week, he'll conduct a meeting for representatives of local groups to discuss the Gateway program. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay.
According to Berry, if a diverse cross-section of St. John residents shows up and shows interest, that could be the start. On the other hand, without broad-based support from as many sectors of the Cruz Bay community as possible taking part, he said, the Gateway concept cannot succeed.

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National Park Service officials say they're ready to talk to community groups on St. John about planning the future of Cruz Bay.
However, V.I. National Park Supt. Russell Berry Jr. said, consultants from the NPS Planning and Design Office will be available only if St. John residents can agree that they want their help.
In the early 1980s, the park service developed a "Gateway" community program to assist towns and villages located near large-tract national parks across the United States. As the numbers of visitors increased at those parks, Berry explained, NPS officials recognized that some of those small communities were being overwhelmed.
The Gateway program was designed to provide planning services to localities lacking the resources to hire a professional planner on their own, he said.
Berry cited Sitka, Alaska, about a hundred miles south of Juneau at the edge of the Sitka National Historic Park, as an example of a Gateway town. He called Provincetown, Mass., just outside the Cape Cod National Seashore, a "perfect example of a Gateway community."
In those towns, officials with the help of planners found ways to make their communities more user friendly to visitors by taking a variety of steps -- such things as installing signs, rearranging traffic patterns, even deciding to impose uniformity of building construction, giving some of the towns a distinct architectural character.
How, exactly, did the National Park Service experts help the town leaders? "They didn't," Berry replied.
"The park service didn't do anything," he explained. "That is the community effort. We're not going to spend the money on planning for planning's sake. It's a bootstrap operation."
Communities that have successfully utilized available NPS planning services have gone on to research and procure their own grant money and do all the work to put the agreed-upon improvements into effect, he said.
St. John would seem to be a natural candidate for the program. With a population of about 5,400 and park visitation up to 1.2 million persons annually, St. John has seen increased demands on its resources as it plays host to one of the National Park Service's most popular destinations.
In fact, word about the Gateway program reached the Virgin Islands in 1998, Berry said, but the idea generated little enthusiasm then. "There has to be a broad coalition of community organizations that would be willing to do this," he said, "and so far, that has not materialized."
National Park Service consultant Jim Owens is ready and willing to find out if the timing is better now. Next week, he'll conduct a meeting for representatives of local groups to discuss the Gateway program. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay.
According to Berry, if a diverse cross-section of St. John residents shows up and shows interest, that could be the start. On the other hand, without broad-based support from as many sectors of the Cruz Bay community as possible taking part, he said, the Gateway concept cannot succeed.