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Residents Air Their Issues at Town Meeting

Feb. 24, 2005 –– Construction of the Cruz Bay parking garage will start this summer, according to Keith Richards. Richards is in charge of capital projects for Gov. Charles W. Turnbull.
Richards made his remarks at a town meeting held Thursday at the Territorial Court in the Boulon Center. As it turned out, the location and the meeting were a bit of political gamesmanship on the part of freshman at-large-Sen. Craig Barshinger.
The story began when the St. John Community Foundation sent out a press release on Feb. 16 announcing a meeting to be held Thursday at the Legislature building to discuss parking. The notice said Barshinger was invited to the meeting.
Several days later, Barshinger issued a press release announcing a town meeting to be held Thursday by the Senate Minority at the Territorial Court to discuss whatever residents wanted.
The Community Foundation meeting did not take place. Barshinger, who is a member of the Community Foundation, said that he had the Community Foundation send out the press release because he needed a back-up location in case Majority Leader Celestino White made good on his threat to fumigate the Legislature building just prior to the scheduled meeting or otherwise close the building. Barshinger claimed that White had said he would not allow him to hold a town meeting at the Legislature building.
"This is heresy for them to be doing this," he said of the Majority.
However, the Legislature building was open and there was no fumigation smell at 5:30 p.m. just prior to the start of the announced Community Foundation meeting.
Barshinger's town meeting started with a planned social half-hour highlighted by a round of sandwiches from Subway.
After four of Barshinger's Minority colleagues –– Sens. Roosevelt David, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Neville James, and Pedro Encarnacion – arrived at 6:30 p.m., the meeting began with residents taking their turn at the microphone to complain about whatever was on their minds.
Richards then unveiled the parking garage plans. He said that it will hold 82 cars and eight to 10 vendors stalls 10 feet by 10 feet in size. Richards said one or two stalls might be 10 feet by 20 feet.
It will cost $3 million, with the money coming from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund and bonds.
Richards said that three of the four businesses now using the area will be given space in the vendor's plaza portion of the building. The fourth, W&W Fast Food, will not because the restaurant can't fit into the allotted space.
However, not everyone is happy with the location on the lot across from the Creek currently used for parking. Several people offered other ideas.
St. John architect Rob Crane suggested the project be put on hold until everyone can see what happens in Cruz Bay once the Enighed Pond commercial port opens.
"Leave it sit for another few years," he said.
He said that by the time parking for tenants is figured in, the parking garage will result in a net gain of 40 parking spaces for Cruz Bay. He said they will cost $30,000 per space.
Crane said that building a parking garage where the Cruz Bay tennis courts now sit would cost only about $8,000 per space.
Calvin George suggested that parking be allowed at Julius E. Sprauve School ballfield on weekends to help alleviate the parking problem.
Lonnie Willis, president of the St. John Community Foundation, unveiled a plan for a shuttle bus to take people around Cruz Bay.
"But it will only be successful if it's free," she said.
Mary Blazine also took issue with the plan announced by St. John Administrator Julien Harley to limit parking across from the post office to 45 minutes starting next week. She said it takes at least two hours to run errands and have lunch.
However, Harley said if it was two hours, people would park for four.
In the portion of the meeting where people aired their complaints, matters at Guy Benjamin School in Coral Bay got microphone time.
At issue was the fact that special education teacher Jane Roskin was transferred to St. Thomas to work. Additionally, rumors are circulating that the school may close.
"There is total disregard for St. John," resident Monique Matthias said, referring to the Education Department.

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