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Kids Suffer When Rec Facilities Neglected, Senators Told

April 3, 2008 — Senators and the V.I. government's parks chief got an earful Thursday about the sorry state of St. John's recreational facilities and what that says about the shabby treatment of the island's young people.
Members of the Senate Housing, Sports and Veterans Affairs Committee as well as Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner St. Claire N. Williams heard Malik Stevens say that when kids play at the Pine Peace basketball court, they get electrical shocks from the light poles.
"And we have to cancel when it rains," said Stevens, a member of the St. John Youth Committee; St. John has no indoor recreational facilities.
Stevens, the four other members of the Youth Committee, which was previously called the St. John Commission on Youth, the organization's adult leaders and others in the St. John community asked the senators and Williams to do something about the problems.
Youth Committee member Hadiya Sewer said that if it takes a village to raise a child, where are the villagers who would improve conditions for the island's youth?
"We really do care and love the island, but we would like to feel the love in return," she said.
Paul Devine, who serves as the adult chairman of the Youth Committee, said children are treated like second-class citizens.
Resident Elroy Hill said nothing has changed when it comes to recreational facilities since he was a child. He spoke about the lack of bathrooms at the island's recreational facilities, which he said is not a problem on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The Youth Committee showed a video that outlined the deplorable conditions of the island's recreational facilities, including the sparking light at the Pine Peace basketball court, as well as the other challenges St. John youths face in commuting to St. Thomas for high school, navigating Cruz Bay's congested streets and trying to work on projects at the Elaine Sprauve Library. The library is only open until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The students requested that it stay open some evenings and Saturdays.
Resident Robert O'Connor Jr., a former senator, said that while he was in office, the Legislature appropriated $3.5 million for a multipurpose center as well as $250,000 to develop the plans.
"Nothing came about and all the money was removed," he said.
But Williams detailed the department's progress and future plans for some of the facilities it manages on St. John.
He said that new playground equipment was installed at the Pine Peace basketball court. Additionally, price quotes were obtained to address the flooding problem at the basketball court.
Williams said the Legislature appropriated $200,000 to rehabilitate Oppenheimer Beach, but the Budget Office said the funds are not available.
Regarding the Cruz Bay Recreational Center, Williams said he's working on a public/private partnership with the Rotary Club of St. John to improve the facility. But the department will make the repairs that need immediate attention.
Williams said he and V.I. National Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove met to discuss the ballfield adjacent to the park's Visitor's Center. The park owns the ballfield, but the department manages it. Williams said the park will maintain the perimeter and the department the field itself. He said a temporary repair would be made to the perimeter fence.
The commissioner said that he is pursuing a public/private partnership to develop five acres of government-owned land in Coral Bay for a recreational facility. While the department previously had a lease from the Moravian Church to use the Coral Bay ballfield, that lease has expired. Williams said the ballfield is part of the land leased by the Moravian Church to a developer.
Committee chairman Sen. Celestino White and committee members Sen. Louis P. Hill, Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, Sen. Raymond "Usie" Richards, Sen. Carmen Wesselhoft and Sen. Alvin Williams attended the meeting. Non-committee member Sen. Liston Davis also attended.
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April 3, 2008 -- Senators and the V.I. government's parks chief got an earful Thursday about the sorry state of St. John's recreational facilities and what that says about the shabby treatment of the island's young people.
Members of the Senate Housing, Sports and Veterans Affairs Committee as well as Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner St. Claire N. Williams heard Malik Stevens say that when kids play at the Pine Peace basketball court, they get electrical shocks from the light poles.
"And we have to cancel when it rains," said Stevens, a member of the St. John Youth Committee; St. John has no indoor recreational facilities.
Stevens, the four other members of the Youth Committee, which was previously called the St. John Commission on Youth, the organization's adult leaders and others in the St. John community asked the senators and Williams to do something about the problems.
Youth Committee member Hadiya Sewer said that if it takes a village to raise a child, where are the villagers who would improve conditions for the island's youth?
"We really do care and love the island, but we would like to feel the love in return," she said.
Paul Devine, who serves as the adult chairman of the Youth Committee, said children are treated like second-class citizens.
Resident Elroy Hill said nothing has changed when it comes to recreational facilities since he was a child. He spoke about the lack of bathrooms at the island's recreational facilities, which he said is not a problem on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The Youth Committee showed a video that outlined the deplorable conditions of the island's recreational facilities, including the sparking light at the Pine Peace basketball court, as well as the other challenges St. John youths face in commuting to St. Thomas for high school, navigating Cruz Bay's congested streets and trying to work on projects at the Elaine Sprauve Library. The library is only open until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The students requested that it stay open some evenings and Saturdays.
Resident Robert O'Connor Jr., a former senator, said that while he was in office, the Legislature appropriated $3.5 million for a multipurpose center as well as $250,000 to develop the plans.
"Nothing came about and all the money was removed," he said.
But Williams detailed the department's progress and future plans for some of the facilities it manages on St. John.
He said that new playground equipment was installed at the Pine Peace basketball court. Additionally, price quotes were obtained to address the flooding problem at the basketball court.
Williams said the Legislature appropriated $200,000 to rehabilitate Oppenheimer Beach, but the Budget Office said the funds are not available.
Regarding the Cruz Bay Recreational Center, Williams said he's working on a public/private partnership with the Rotary Club of St. John to improve the facility. But the department will make the repairs that need immediate attention.
Williams said he and V.I. National Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove met to discuss the ballfield adjacent to the park's Visitor's Center. The park owns the ballfield, but the department manages it. Williams said the park will maintain the perimeter and the department the field itself. He said a temporary repair would be made to the perimeter fence.
The commissioner said that he is pursuing a public/private partnership to develop five acres of government-owned land in Coral Bay for a recreational facility. While the department previously had a lease from the Moravian Church to use the Coral Bay ballfield, that lease has expired. Williams said the ballfield is part of the land leased by the Moravian Church to a developer.
Committee chairman Sen. Celestino White and committee members Sen. Louis P. Hill, Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, Sen. Raymond "Usie" Richards, Sen. Carmen Wesselhoft and Sen. Alvin Williams attended the meeting. Non-committee member Sen. Liston Davis also attended.
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.