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TASK FORCE TO TAKE REQUESTS FOR TOWING

Sept. 25, 2003 – Crucians who know where unsightly junked vehicles sit abandoned can now ask the government to arrange for them to be towed away.
Next week, the administration's junked and abandoned vehicles task force will begin the second phase of its clean-up program on St. Croix, according to a Government House release. In addition to continuing to tag and remove abandoned cars and trucks, the task force will begin "the processing of requests from residents for the removal of junked vehicles."
What is formally known as the Governor's Inter-Agency Joint Task Force for the Junked and Abandoned Vehicle Program began its first phase of operations last December in Christiansted after the St. Croix Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission approved a $50,000 grant for the program.
In addition to Anti-Litter and Beautification, the program involves the Office of the Governor, the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, the V.I. Air National Guard, and the Planning and Natural Resources, Police, Property and Procurement, and Public Works Departments.
Owners of derelict vehicles are free to move them before they're towed, but those who don't will face a fine in order to get their property back. And even if they don't want the vehicles back, they'll still face a fine.
The Public Works Department plans on tagging such vehicles with bright-colored stickers 48 hours prior to their scheduled removal. Owners can claim their vehicles at no cost prior to towing, the release states. After that, they will have 15 days in which to reclaim the vehicles — after paying a fine that could exceed $250.
Where such retrieval options are ignored, the Police Department will place a lien against the last known owner "to cover the costs incurred for the removal of their junked or abandoned vehicle," St. Croix Administrator Gregory Francis said. Those costs will be waiting for the owner when he or she "attempts to register any other vehicle," he said.
Austin Moorhead, a member of the task force, said the second phase of the program should begin on Monday with anti-litter officers touring the island. "We will focus on residents' requests" for removal of abandoned cars in their neighborhood, he said.
To request the removal of an abandoned vehicle, you must complete a form that's available at Government House, the administrator's office in Frederiksted, the Public Works Department, and the managers' offices of the housing communities. Francis said residents can ask for no more than two vehicles to be hauled away.
Tow-truck drivers wishing to assist in the program must obtain a hauler's permit from the Public Works Department. For more information, call Public Works at 773-1290.

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