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Frederiksted Pier Stuck in Bureaucratic Muck

May 11, 2005 – Officials assembled at the Frederiksted fishermen's pier and boat access ramp Tuesday to find out what can be done to correct another problem that could jeopardize the reconstruction project.
In April, Carlos Zenon of Zenon Construction was successful in winning a $120,000 contract to complete renovations on the facility, which has been closed since December 2002.
On Tuesday, Zenon said he proceeded with the renovation work under the assumption that the contract would be fast tracked through Government House. "Property and Procurement has not lived up to their side of the bargain," Zenon said.
Zenon was threatening to shut down the project if his contract was not in place and start up funds were not released to him.
"There is a process this department has to follow," said Toby Tobias, Division of Fish and Wildlife biologist and spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Tobias said DPNR is "on track and following through" with the contract. Tobias said Zenon got a conditional notice to proceed and agreed to proceed with no contract.
"A contract is forthcoming," Tobias said, adding that Zenon was operating under a "false sense of time."
When asked what his next move would be, Zenon shrugged his shoulders and said, "I need to shut down. I am out of money."
In April, Zenon said he would build a "coffer dam" to hold back the sea water while the work on the ramps is being done. Zenon began the work on April 26. (See "Work on Pier Begins With Hope of a Speedy Return to the Sea for Fishermen").
A crew of 14 filled 5,000 bags of sand and erected the dam. Zenon said he chartered a plane to get the specially made bags from Santo Domingo. "It's not just the money," he said. "It’s the efforts of the workers, too."
On Tuesday the mechanical pump was busy pumping sea water from inside the dam into an area of the sea cordoned off by a silk curtain.
Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville was present at the meeting, which was hastily called together Monday afternoon. Serville made several calls and received information from Olga Myers, Property and Procurement deputy commissioner. Myers informed Figueroa-Serville the contract had been delivered to the Department of Justice, where legal counsel was reviewing it. Myers said that Keith Richards, the governor's capital improvement coordinator, would pick up the contract Wednesday and deliver it to the governor for his signature.
Also present at the impromptu meeting were Francisco Melendez, St. Croix assistant administrator; Aaron Fleming, Public Works Department representative; George Flores, spokesman for the fishermen; and representatives from several senators' offices.
Zenon said he has been diligent in fulfilling his role as contractor. "It's time for the government to be diligent."
In a telephone interview Wednesday morning, Zenon said his crew is out today continuing the renovations. He hopes that since the contract is moving forward, the department of Public Works will move "diligently" and process his payment.

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