Jan. 26, 2006 – Repairs on the historic Sanderilla Thomas Bungalow at Rothschild Francis "Market" Square won't begin for at least another six months, said James O'Bryan, St. Thomas administrator.
When contacted Thursday evening, O'Bryan said pieces of the bungalow — which collapsed after being hit by a truck in April 2003 — first have to be shipped to the mainland to be repaired. He said those pieces would take "about six months" to return to the territory.
(This news from O'Bryan directly contradicts a Thursday press release sent from the Governor's Office which noted that repairs on the bungalow were scheduled to begin shortly.)
Furthermore, O'Bryan said that a cistern in the Market Square area would also have to be fixed before the rebuilding is complete.
"We have to make sure that we maintain the historical character of the structure, and that takes some time," said O'Bryan, a member of the task force designed to plan and implement the restoration of the bungalow.
The task force was formed shortly after the structure was destroyed in 2003, and repairs were supposed to have begun in July 2004.
When contacted Thursday, O'Bryan explained that the need to maintain the historical integrity of the structure is what initially held up the building process. "When we had to develop the plans for the project – which is something we never anticipated we would have to do – we had to first do some historical research on the structure," he said. "Then we had to go through the procurement process to secure the services of an engineer, get a contract in place, and then clear the plans with the Historic Preservation Office."
O'Bryan also said the project was put out to bid twice, since proposals from some contractors were more than the amount of money available for the project.
"However, we are absolutely sure this is going to happen now," O'Bryan said. "The funding is secure and we're having a meeting with the contractors on Monday – we've reached the point where we definitely have to move forward on this."
According to the release, the contractors for the project – Custom Builders – will be meeting with various government representatives to discuss the creation of a traffic plan for the square once construction begins.
The funding for the reconstruction will come from the $250,000 appropriation approved by the Legislature and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull shortly after the bungalow was destroyed. Another $75,000 will be coming from the Public Finance Authority.
O'Bryan said the rebuilding of the bungalow is just the first phase in an overall Market Square renovation project. He added that a public awareness campaign would be launched prior to the construction.
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