To the Source:
I read with amazement in the Source that Torgen Johnson claims his firm, Paradigm, did the renovations for Emancipation Garden. I was the chairperson of the Historic Preservation Commission in 1997 when that work was done, and neither Torgen Johnson or Paradigm had anything to do with it.
Plans for the renovation of Emancipation Garden started in 1996 when the then governor, Roy Schneider, met with members of the Commission, St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, St. Thomas-St. John Anti-Litter and Beautification Committee and Jaredian Design Group, the last because of its involvement in the Waterfront Improvement Project.
Since Emancipation Garden is in the historic district, Governor Schneider wanted the commission to be directly involved. The chamber was included because of its "Charlotte Amalie 2000" project. Funding would come from Anti-Litter and Beaufication. In 1997, Valentino McBean, vice president of Banco Popular, announced that the bank would pay for landscaping and maintenance.
A preliminary design was submitted by the Chamber of Commerce, but after the commission made several site visits, it was rejected because of placement of trees and lighting. A second plan was developed by the Historic Preservation Commission and the Chamber of Commerce and approved on June 12, 1997. The plan for the bandstand, which included a new handicapped-access ramp and a double roof similar to the original one, was submitted by the Jaredian Design Group on Aug. 12, 1997 and approved.
The Jaredian Design Group also selected the benches, paving, historical-style lamps and flagpoles and did a new landscape design. It also provided bid packages for the contractor and did construction management for the job. Construction was done by Lubin Roberts Construction and landscaping was done by James Boschulte Jr. A sprinkler system was installed. Commission members, Roberts, Boschulte and John Woods of Jaredian and Louis Hughes of Public Works met regularly to make sure the work conformed to the historical standard.
The work on the garden was completed in December 1997 and the rededication of the bandstand was held on Dec. 19, 1997. Valentino McBean promised at that time that Banco Popular "will continue to support the park by paying monthly maintenance fees."
Today the park is enjoyed by many.
I hope this sets the record straight on who was responsible for the rehabilitation of Emancipation Garden.
Edith deJongh Woods
WHO REDESIGNED EMANCIPATION GARDEN
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