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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSAFETY OF NEW BOARDWALK AREA IN QUESTION

SAFETY OF NEW BOARDWALK AREA IN QUESTION

Gov. Charles Turnbull is set to cut the ribbon for the new boardwalk extension in Christiansted on Monday, but the eagerly anticipated project is getting the wrong kind of attention.
Following at least three robberies on the new section of walkway west of Queens Cross Street, some downtown merchants are worried that the lack of a strong police presence will mean more muggings – or worse.
One downtown merchant, who wished that his name not be used, recounted a recent run-in with a local youth that both chilled him and caused him to predict more trouble on the boardwalk. After witnessing the bike-riding teenager cuss out and spit in the direction of tourists asking for directions, the business owner asked the young man why he was rude. The answer, "I hate white people" was accompanied by another wad of spit and then a gesture to his belt, as if he was packing a gun.
It’s that kind of malignant presence that has some people in downtown considering hiring private security to beef up an admittedly thin police force.
"We’re aware of a few instances at the boardwalk," said St. Croix Deputy Police Chief Novelle Francis, referring to incidents where visiting U.S. Navy personnel were mugged and other robberies involving tourists. "We’re significantly short at this time."
It’s the short staffing that has the Christiansted Restaurant and Retail Association thinking of taking added security measures throughout downtown and not just the boardwalk, said Catherine Pugliese, CRRA vice president.
"There is concern, absolutely," Pugliese said, adding that the CRRA is anxious for the police bicycle patrol to receive new bikes. "We’re also talking about security cameras on nine street corners."
The cameras, which are to be paid for through a grant proposal, would be linked to a private security firm that would report problems to the police, she said. Hiring a security officer for the boardwalk, however, could be too costly.
As for Francis, he said the extra help is welcomed. He also said an expert in bicycle policing from Florida will be in the territory later in the month to train local officers.
"Whatever assistance we can get is appreciated," he said. "We can’t do it all by ourselves."
Francis conceded that patrolling the western-most section of the boardwalk plus the rest of downtown spreads his forces thin. He said the new boardwalk is a "gateway" to nearby housing communities where some rough characters reside.
"When some of them commit a crime downtown, they get on the boardwalk and go," he said. "It poses a difficulty for us to try and man the whole area."
Pugliese said the CRRA has a meeting scheduled with the governor next Tuesday in which the association will raise safety issues. Turnbull, meanwhile, will officially open the boardwalk on Monday at 3 p.m. near the Caravelle Hotel.
"The people of St. Croix can be proud of this development, which will increase economic activity on the island, particularly downtown Christiansted," Turnbull said in a release on Wednesday. "This will be a major focal point for the enjoyment of residents, visitors and businesses."
The just-completed work was the first phase of extending the water front board walk. Phase IA and II are scheduled to begin during the 2001 calendar year. Phase IA will extend from the new terminus of the boardwalk near the Holger Danske Hotel to the seaplane ramp. Phase II will run from Fort Christiansvaern to Gallows Bay.

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Gov. Charles Turnbull is set to cut the ribbon for the new boardwalk extension in Christiansted on Monday, but the eagerly anticipated project is getting the wrong kind of attention.
Following at least three robberies on the new section of walkway west of Queens Cross Street, some downtown merchants are worried that the lack of a strong police presence will mean more muggings – or worse.
One downtown merchant, who wished that his name not be used, recounted a recent run-in with a local youth that both chilled him and caused him to predict more trouble on the boardwalk. After witnessing the bike-riding teenager cuss out and spit in the direction of tourists asking for directions, the business owner asked the young man why he was rude. The answer, "I hate white people" was accompanied by another wad of spit and then a gesture to his belt, as if he was packing a gun.
It’s that kind of malignant presence that has some people in downtown considering hiring private security to beef up an admittedly thin police force.
"We’re aware of a few instances at the boardwalk," said St. Croix Deputy Police Chief Novelle Francis, referring to incidents where visiting U.S. Navy personnel were mugged and other robberies involving tourists. "We’re significantly short at this time."
It’s the short staffing that has the Christiansted Restaurant and Retail Association thinking of taking added security measures throughout downtown and not just the boardwalk, said Catherine Pugliese, CRRA vice president.
"There is concern, absolutely," Pugliese said, adding that the CRRA is anxious for the police bicycle patrol to receive new bikes. "We’re also talking about security cameras on nine street corners."
The cameras, which are to be paid for through a grant proposal, would be linked to a private security firm that would report problems to the police, she said. Hiring a security officer for the boardwalk, however, could be too costly.
As for Francis, he said the extra help is welcomed. He also said an expert in bicycle policing from Florida will be in the territory later in the month to train local officers.
"Whatever assistance we can get is appreciated," he said. "We can’t do it all by ourselves."
Francis conceded that patrolling the western-most section of the boardwalk plus the rest of downtown spreads his forces thin. He said the new boardwalk is a "gateway" to nearby housing communities where some rough characters reside.
"When some of them commit a crime downtown, they get on the boardwalk and go," he said. "It poses a difficulty for us to try and man the whole area."
Pugliese said the CRRA has a meeting scheduled with the governor next Tuesday in which the association will raise safety issues. Turnbull, meanwhile, will officially open the boardwalk on Monday at 3 p.m. near the Caravelle Hotel.
"The people of St. Croix can be proud of this development, which will increase economic activity on the island, particularly downtown Christiansted," Turnbull said in a release on Wednesday. "This will be a major focal point for the enjoyment of residents, visitors and businesses."
The just-completed work was the first phase of extending the water front board walk. Phase IA and II are scheduled to begin during the 2001 calendar year. Phase IA will extend from the new terminus of the boardwalk near the Holger Danske Hotel to the seaplane ramp. Phase II will run from Fort Christiansvaern to Gallows Bay.