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HomeNewsArchivesDECISION ON LONG BAY CZM PERMIT DUE IN 30 DAYS

DECISION ON LONG BAY CZM PERMIT DUE IN 30 DAYS

Feb. 19, 2004 – The St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee will decide within 30 days whether to approve the government's application for a major CZM permit for the $15 million Long Bay road project.
The committee announced that timeline Wednesday evening after hearing testimony on the long-awaited project.
Thirty days is a short time where the project is concerned. Public Works Department engineers and planners have tried for decades to devise a plan to ease the traffic chaos in the Long Bay area, including Mandela Circle, easily one of the most congested and aggravating intersections on St. Thomas.
Wynstan D. Benjamin, Public Works design/construction program manager, said on Thursday morning that "work could get started, after the permits are granted, early next year." However, he added, "There could be appeals. It depends on the process."
Work on rebuilding and expanding the Yacht Haven Hotel property was delayed for several months last year by its new owner, IN-USVI, because of an appeal filed by the Save Long Bay Coalition that finally was settled last November.
Benjamin noted that the Long Bay road project "goes back to the '80s." Some have said the current plans echo the controversial "Plan 8" of the mid-'90s. "Absolutely not," Benjamin said.
The area involved is between the Lovers Lane intersection with the waterfront roadway and the main entrance to Havensight Mall. Also as part of the project, the two-lane portion of Centerline Road (also known as Estate Thomas Road) between Mandela Circle and First Avenue will be converted to three lanes.
The Long Bay road regularly sees some of St. Thomas's worst traffic jams on days when cruise ships unload thousands of passengers for island tours and shopping in the morning, only to have them all head back to the ship in the afternoon.
Three busy arteries converge at Mandela Circle — the road from town, the road from Havensight and the cruise ship dock, and the road linking downtown to the Pueblo supermarket, Vitraco Mall, Lockhart Gardens, Wheatley Shopping Center, Roy L. Schneider Hospital, the Sugar Estate main post office and Raphune Hill and points east.
In addition, there are two large housing communities in the area, Paul M. Pearson Gardens and Oswald Harris Court, with hundreds of residents regularly using the road.
All told, it adds up to a lot of cars, trucks, taxis and buses.
The road also is a conduit for resident commuters — coming to work from the highly populated eastern half of the island in the morning and returning home in the afternoon, or heading east from town to mid-island shopping centers or the ferry dock at Red Hook.
While the government is anxious to get the road work under way after more than 20 years in one stage of development or another, there are some who have grave concerns about the plans Public Works has submitted to the CZM committee.
Some say they are not complete. Others complain of their lack of aesthetic sensibilities.
IN-USVI has scheduled demolition of the derelict Yacht Haven buildings to begin on March 13, and it plans to finish the first phase of the elaborate development within two years.
The League of Women Voters objects to the application's Environmental Assessment Report. Erva Denham, who chairs the league's Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, said on Wednesday evening that the report "lacks critical information and is not truly complete."
Denham said: "The major deficiency in both the 1998 and 2003 applications for the project is the absence of simple, clear, to-scale drawings showing existing and proposed traffic flow patterns, locations of bus stops, pedestrian crossings, signalization and drainage channel patterns along the projects existing and proposed routes."
Without these visual comparisons, she said, it is "impossible to judge whether the proposed changes will result in improved traffic flow … or justify the 18-month disruption the project is expected to cause."
Denham also noted that trees are to be removed, "but it is not clear what will happen to them"
Another league stalwart, Helen Gjessing, shed some light on that. "IN-USVI, even before this application came out, had in their restoration application an offer to give some trees to Paul M. Pearson Gardens," she said. "In light of the fact that federal funding can't be used for anything outside of the right of way, it was really great that IN-USVI made this offer. They have already started negotiations to go through with the transplanting."
Sebastiano Paiewonsky Cassinelli, representing Isidor Paiewonsky Associates and A.H. Riise Gift Shops, objects strongly to the plans — and has an alternate proposal which features a two-lane roadway exclusively for taxis.
"We have submitted a significant legal brief showing flaws in the application, with letters to the Federal Highway Commission," Cassinelli said on Thursday afternoon. "We will consider all options after the CZM committee makes its decision."
"Having said that," Cassinelli continued, "it is our hope that the key stakeholders will come together and quickly formulate a plan that will truly reduce traffic congestion and create a design that is memorable and beautiful."
Cassinelli criticized the DPW plan as lacking in aesthetic appeal. "The road work as currently designed by the Department of Public Works will create a blighted area next to Yacht Haven that will contribute to the devaluation of St. Thomas as a whole," he said.
Elie Finegold, IN-USVI executive vice president, said on Thursday: "Our research has shown that the DPW plan would materially improve traffic conditions on that stretch of Long Bay road." However, he said he thought that within the broad concept, the plans should "include beautification of the harbor."

Judi Shimel also contributed to this report.

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Feb. 19, 2004 - The St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee will decide within 30 days whether to approve the government's application for a major CZM permit for the $15 million Long Bay road project.
The committee announced that timeline Wednesday evening after hearing testimony on the long-awaited project.
Thirty days is a short time where the project is concerned. Public Works Department engineers and planners have tried for decades to devise a plan to ease the traffic chaos in the Long Bay area, including Mandela Circle, easily one of the most congested and aggravating intersections on St. Thomas.
Wynstan D. Benjamin, Public Works design/construction program manager, said on Thursday morning that "work could get started, after the permits are granted, early next year." However, he added, "There could be appeals. It depends on the process."
Work on rebuilding and expanding the Yacht Haven Hotel property was delayed for several months last year by its new owner, IN-USVI, because of an appeal filed by the Save Long Bay Coalition that finally was settled last November.
Benjamin noted that the Long Bay road project "goes back to the '80s." Some have said the current plans echo the controversial "Plan 8" of the mid-'90s. "Absolutely not," Benjamin said.
The area involved is between the Lovers Lane intersection with the waterfront roadway and the main entrance to Havensight Mall. Also as part of the project, the two-lane portion of Centerline Road (also known as Estate Thomas Road) between Mandela Circle and First Avenue will be converted to three lanes.
The Long Bay road regularly sees some of St. Thomas's worst traffic jams on days when cruise ships unload thousands of passengers for island tours and shopping in the morning, only to have them all head back to the ship in the afternoon.
Three busy arteries converge at Mandela Circle -- the road from town, the road from Havensight and the cruise ship dock, and the road linking downtown to the Pueblo supermarket, Vitraco Mall, Lockhart Gardens, Wheatley Shopping Center, Roy L. Schneider Hospital, the Sugar Estate main post office and Raphune Hill and points east.
In addition, there are two large housing communities in the area, Paul M. Pearson Gardens and Oswald Harris Court, with hundreds of residents regularly using the road.
All told, it adds up to a lot of cars, trucks, taxis and buses.
The road also is a conduit for resident commuters -- coming to work from the highly populated eastern half of the island in the morning and returning home in the afternoon, or heading east from town to mid-island shopping centers or the ferry dock at Red Hook.
While the government is anxious to get the road work under way after more than 20 years in one stage of development or another, there are some who have grave concerns about the plans Public Works has submitted to the CZM committee.
Some say they are not complete. Others complain of their lack of aesthetic sensibilities.
IN-USVI has scheduled demolition of the derelict Yacht Haven buildings to begin on March 13, and it plans to finish the first phase of the elaborate development within two years.
The League of Women Voters objects to the application's Environmental Assessment Report. Erva Denham, who chairs the league's Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, said on Wednesday evening that the report "lacks critical information and is not truly complete."
Denham said: "The major deficiency in both the 1998 and 2003 applications for the project is the absence of simple, clear, to-scale drawings showing existing and proposed traffic flow patterns, locations of bus stops, pedestrian crossings, signalization and drainage channel patterns along the projects existing and proposed routes."
Without these visual comparisons, she said, it is "impossible to judge whether the proposed changes will result in improved traffic flow ... or justify the 18-month disruption the project is expected to cause."
Denham also noted that trees are to be removed, "but it is not clear what will happen to them"
Another league stalwart, Helen Gjessing, shed some light on that. "IN-USVI, even before this application came out, had in their restoration application an offer to give some trees to Paul M. Pearson Gardens," she said. "In light of the fact that federal funding can't be used for anything outside of the right of way, it was really great that IN-USVI made this offer. They have already started negotiations to go through with the transplanting."
Sebastiano Paiewonsky Cassinelli, representing Isidor Paiewonsky Associates and A.H. Riise Gift Shops, objects strongly to the plans -- and has an alternate proposal which features a two-lane roadway exclusively for taxis.
"We have submitted a significant legal brief showing flaws in the application, with letters to the Federal Highway Commission," Cassinelli said on Thursday afternoon. "We will consider all options after the CZM committee makes its decision."
"Having said that," Cassinelli continued, "it is our hope that the key stakeholders will come together and quickly formulate a plan that will truly reduce traffic congestion and create a design that is memorable and beautiful."
Cassinelli criticized the DPW plan as lacking in aesthetic appeal. "The road work as currently designed by the Department of Public Works will create a blighted area next to Yacht Haven that will contribute to the devaluation of St. Thomas as a whole," he said.
Elie Finegold, IN-USVI executive vice president, said on Thursday: "Our research has shown that the DPW plan would materially improve traffic conditions on that stretch of Long Bay road." However, he said he thought that within the broad concept, the plans should "include beautification of the harbor."

Judi Shimel also contributed to this report.

Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much -- and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice ... click here.