83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Friday, December 8, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesVIPA Waterfront Project Gets Positive Public Response

VIPA Waterfront Project Gets Positive Public Response

Aug. 19, 2005 – The V.I. Port Authority's plans for redevelopment of the Charlotte Amalie waterfront got a solid "thumbs up" from the public Thursday evening.
The meeting at the Holiday Inn Windward Passage hotel was a scheduled step in VIPA's plan to get a private developer to sponsor the project.
Since he announced VIPA's plans to revitalize the ailing waterfront at a VIPA board meeting last month, Darlan Brin, VIPA executive director, said the authority has met with several community groups – including the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, various Rotary Clubs, the boating community and the League of Women Voters – to discuss the project. According to Brin, the meetings have been positive.
About 30 engineers, government officials and concerned residents showed up Thursday night. Brin was concerned about attendance, as waterfront traffic had been tied up for about two hours after a bomb scare was called in to Seaborne Airlines around 5 p.m.
When the waterfront plans were first revealed five years ago, Brin said the project would be funded and developed in stages and should ultimately cost between $4 million and $5 million.
Since that time, commerce on the busy waterfront has increased, with local commercial ferries, cruise ship tenders, small recreational vessels, tour vessels, mini-cruise ships and, especially, the ever-increasing number of mega-yachts in the winter months.
Brin and Chaneel Callwood Daniels, project architect of the Yssis Group, showed the plans Thursday night, which now include a series of finger piers to accommodate and ease the boat traffic. These come at a considerable cost, currently estimated at $13.5 million, Brin said, which includes $5 million for waterfront improvements and another $8.5 million for the series of piers.
The 100- to 120-foot piers for the mega-yachts will extend from the waterfront near Raadets Gade, with a pier by the Wilmoth Blyden Terminal to accommodate up to four ferries simultaneously.
Brin said it is also his desire to create a public pier, where locals could wander and fish. However, this isn't in the current plans.
Daniels, who provided a rundown of the project, said she was inspired by an 1864 drawing of the waterfront. The drawing depicted a slower, calmer area. She contrasted it with a picture taken at Carnival showing automobiles choking the area. "I was struck by the presence of the automobiles and the lack of vegetation," she said, referring to the photograph.
Audience members questioned several aspects of the project, including whether there would be barriers to prevent cars toppling over the waterfront into the drink. Daniels explained that a series of planters and bollards were planned to do just that. She said the planters will sprout dwarf Birds of Paradise and petite Ixora.
As the discussion continued about parking on the apron – there won't be any, except to provision the yachts – Brin said that fuel, water, electric and Internet lines would run beneath the surface, eliminating the need for the fuel trucks to park on the apron.
People were also concerned about the other side of the waterfront. Brin and Daniels explained the plans don't include that area because it is not VIPA property. However, Brin said, he has talked with the central government, trying to nudge it to make similar improvements to that area as well.
Another issue raised was crosswalks. Brin said he has spoken to Public Works Department officials. Brin and Daniels both said they want to see slightly raised crosswalks, in a different-colored material to distinguish them. He said the acting DPW commissioner is on the VIPA board. "I hope to encourage DPW to do this," Brin said.
Another prime concern is the V.I. Water and Power Authority water line that runs under the apron. Brin said this is a major issue that must be dealt with before any work can begin because the line requires continual repairs.
Architect John Daniels, a principal of the Yssis group, said at the recent VIPA board meeting that he has been meeting with WAPA for some time. At that time, he said, "Several proposals are on the table. It depends on which one WAPA can afford and how quickly they can get it done."
In answer to a concern voiced about bathrooms for tourists and residents, Brin said no structure will be erected on the apron. He explained there are bathroom facilities at the Blyden terminal. He said that would be up to the government to do something across the street.
Aloy Neilsen, DPW federal highway engineer, gave a brief description of proposed work on the waterfront. He said a four-lane road was in the Long Bay plans to relieve waterfront congestion. He said there are no plans now to widen the waterfront highway with the new project. He said plans include a four-lane highway around the Legislature building to connect with Lovers Lane.
Addressing the issue of waterfront traffic, Neilsen used a grading analogy: "It's an 'F' now; [with the new plans] it will be a 'D' or a 'C-minus.'" He also said the current U.S. Coast Guard facilities would be relocated, which he said the USCG has wanted.
When asked about the mega-yachts docking in the new Yacht Haven facilities, Brin replied, "Competition is good. We are concerned about competition from the other islands, not here. The BVI and the Dominican Republic are also angling for the big yachts.
"Also, the yacht owners like to show off," Brin said with a grin. "They like to look at themselves lined up along the water front. They park next to each other."
The VIPA staff will now consider suggestions from its series of meetings and refine its plans for a period of 15 days after all meetings are concluded, after which the revised plan would be submitted to the VIPA governing board. The board will then have 30 days to render a decision.
After a favorable board decision, developers would be solicited. Brin said that could happen in early 2006.
For a more detailed description of the waterfront project, see "VIPA Unveils Waterfront Renewal Project."

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.