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Red Hook: Lots of Problems, Few Immediate Solutions

June 14, 2007 – Red Hook residents and business owners brought issues such as lack of police presence and increasing crimes before the Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice Committee Wednesday night.
Testifiers also addressed other issues such as road conditions, parking and traffic in that area.
An issue continually revisited throughout the evening was increasing crime in the Red Hook area. Residents noted that with no permanent police station in the area, the crime problem will only grow worse.
Several business owners spoke about their frustration with minimal police presence in an area filled with restaurants and bars that stay open until the wee hours of the morning.
“We are lucky no one has gotten hurt thus far,” said Eric Horstmeyer, owner of The Lotus restaurant. “I think we are sitting on a time bomb at this point, with what has happened.”
Horstmeyer mentioned the fact that in the past month alone there have been numerous incidents of crime — one in which his executive chef was accosted on his way to get some supplies for the restaurant. Because of the escalating incidents, Horstmeyer said, he has lost some business: “It is imperative that the impression that people are getting needs to stop.”
A business owner and president of the Red Hook Community Alliance, Andrea King, addressed the issues of crime and sparse police protection.
“We have a major problem with drug dealers walking and lurking on our streets daily, openly and in broad daylight,” she said. “In the daytime, these drug dealers are often doing deals on the street with high school children and tourists only a few feet away."
In 2005, RHCA attempted to negotiate a location offered to the government by American Yacht Harbor for a mobile police station near the Red Hook ferry dock. Former Police Commissioner Elton Lewis rejected the idea and an alternative site was considered in the V.I. National Park. At present, the owners of East End Plaza, which is still under construction, are negotiating a lease with the Police Department for space at the facility. (See "Police Substation in the Works for Red Hook.")
King expressed a need for both the mobile station near the dock and one at the new facility.
“Ideally the RHCA feels that the … East End Plaza Location, as well as a street-side location like the one offered by the American Yacht Harbor, used concurrently, would be the best scenario,” she said.
Police Commissioner James McCall responded by explaining that a mobile station, at the location she suggested, was too close to a gas station. He continued by saying that he still has to look out for “the security of his officers.” Plans are a go for the station at the Park service and East End Plaza facility, he said.
“We all have to take responsibility here,” said Sen. Carlton Dowe, chairman of the committee. Although he acknowledged King's grievances, he also argued that patrons of Red Hook bars attract drug dealers: “I want you to look at those who are going into the bathroom.”
Dowe also addressed the present situation of the Police Department, which is understaffed with as many as 100 vacancies.
Other issues such as pedestrian safety and road conditions were also discussed. “Anyone who passes through Red Hook can clearly see that the town is suffering from a lack of the most basic of infrastructure needs,” King said. She cited “poor road conditions, missing crosswalks, a lack of sidewalks, speeding cars, a horrible parking situation and noise pollution.”
Darlan Brin, executive director of the V.I. Port Authority, responded by saying, “We do recognize that the level of traffic is phenomenal.” He continued, “You just can’t provide enough parking.”
After the completion of the marine terminal in Red Hook, 125 paid parking spaces will be available for travelers to St. John and the contracted taxi company, East End Taxi Service. Another option will be to park at the future East End Plaza, which will provide 300 paid parking spaces.
Four years ago, according to King, the RHCA offered to pay fully for a commuter parking lot next to the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, and meetings were held on the matter. But after some time the plan fell through.
“Once again the government had refused help from the private sector, (which) was willing to make this offer to provide a basic infrastructure need at no cost,” King said.
At least two residents mentioned a need for a fire station for the area. Fire Service Director Victor Brown didn't offer them any hope.
“I don’t think we will be able to do that, for lack of funding,” he said. Brown made note of other fire stations such as Tutu, which has a five-to-seven-minute response time.

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June 14, 2007 – Red Hook residents and business owners brought issues such as lack of police presence and increasing crimes before the Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice Committee Wednesday night.
Testifiers also addressed other issues such as road conditions, parking and traffic in that area.
An issue continually revisited throughout the evening was increasing crime in the Red Hook area. Residents noted that with no permanent police station in the area, the crime problem will only grow worse.
Several business owners spoke about their frustration with minimal police presence in an area filled with restaurants and bars that stay open until the wee hours of the morning.
“We are lucky no one has gotten hurt thus far,” said Eric Horstmeyer, owner of The Lotus restaurant. “I think we are sitting on a time bomb at this point, with what has happened.”
Horstmeyer mentioned the fact that in the past month alone there have been numerous incidents of crime -- one in which his executive chef was accosted on his way to get some supplies for the restaurant. Because of the escalating incidents, Horstmeyer said, he has lost some business: “It is imperative that the impression that people are getting needs to stop.”
A business owner and president of the Red Hook Community Alliance, Andrea King, addressed the issues of crime and sparse police protection.
“We have a major problem with drug dealers walking and lurking on our streets daily, openly and in broad daylight,” she said. “In the daytime, these drug dealers are often doing deals on the street with high school children and tourists only a few feet away."
In 2005, RHCA attempted to negotiate a location offered to the government by American Yacht Harbor for a mobile police station near the Red Hook ferry dock. Former Police Commissioner Elton Lewis rejected the idea and an alternative site was considered in the V.I. National Park. At present, the owners of East End Plaza, which is still under construction, are negotiating a lease with the Police Department for space at the facility. (See "Police Substation in the Works for Red Hook.")
King expressed a need for both the mobile station near the dock and one at the new facility.
“Ideally the RHCA feels that the ... East End Plaza Location, as well as a street-side location like the one offered by the American Yacht Harbor, used concurrently, would be the best scenario,” she said.
Police Commissioner James McCall responded by explaining that a mobile station, at the location she suggested, was too close to a gas station. He continued by saying that he still has to look out for “the security of his officers.” Plans are a go for the station at the Park service and East End Plaza facility, he said.
“We all have to take responsibility here,” said Sen. Carlton Dowe, chairman of the committee. Although he acknowledged King's grievances, he also argued that patrons of Red Hook bars attract drug dealers: “I want you to look at those who are going into the bathroom.”
Dowe also addressed the present situation of the Police Department, which is understaffed with as many as 100 vacancies.
Other issues such as pedestrian safety and road conditions were also discussed. “Anyone who passes through Red Hook can clearly see that the town is suffering from a lack of the most basic of infrastructure needs,” King said. She cited “poor road conditions, missing crosswalks, a lack of sidewalks, speeding cars, a horrible parking situation and noise pollution.”
Darlan Brin, executive director of the V.I. Port Authority, responded by saying, “We do recognize that the level of traffic is phenomenal.” He continued, “You just can’t provide enough parking.”
After the completion of the marine terminal in Red Hook, 125 paid parking spaces will be available for travelers to St. John and the contracted taxi company, East End Taxi Service. Another option will be to park at the future East End Plaza, which will provide 300 paid parking spaces.
Four years ago, according to King, the RHCA offered to pay fully for a commuter parking lot next to the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, and meetings were held on the matter. But after some time the plan fell through.
“Once again the government had refused help from the private sector, (which) was willing to make this offer to provide a basic infrastructure need at no cost,” King said.
At least two residents mentioned a need for a fire station for the area. Fire Service Director Victor Brown didn't offer them any hope.
“I don’t think we will be able to do that, for lack of funding,” he said. Brown made note of other fire stations such as Tutu, which has a five-to-seven-minute response time.

Back Talk


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