At a sometimes spirited board meeting Friday, the Magens Bay Authority moved closer to a master use plan for Smith Bay Park, which the authority oversees.
The authority — a semi-autonomous, self-sustaining group that receives no money from the V.I. General Fund — voted to lend $80,000 to Smith Bay Park from the MBA operating account to get the project moving.
It was agreed to advance $13,300 of the money to project engineer William McComb to begin architectural, biological and marine studies of the park. McComb said he would bring to the authority monthly status reports. He said he hopes to have a formal draft for the board’s review in eight weeks.
The authority has had problems getting its hands on the funding appropriated by the Legislature.
The V.I. government originally purchased the 21 acres of beachfront property around Lindqvist Beach in late 2006 for $8.9 million, placing it under the Magens Bay Authority to enhance and manage as Smith Bay Park.
With what it has received of the original $1.5 million appropriated by the previous Legislature as startup money, the authority has cleaned up the beach, installed regularly serviced garbage cans, picnic benches, portable toilets and a temporary trailer.
The 28th Legislature appropriated $1.3 million, reducing the original amount. Board chair Aubrey Nelthropp said he is anxious to have all the plans in place to bring before the Public Finance Authority, whose bonds finance the funding, before the end of April.
"It’s highly competitive," Nelthropp pointed out, with lots of projects competing for that money.
After several lively discussions regarding planning, Nelthropp expressed his disappointment that board member Leo Francis, head of the planning committee, was absent.
The board approved a motion by Dale Barry that the planning committee meet electronically and agree on Smith Bay use guidelines to present at the next board meeting.
In other actions, the board approved a request from Diana White, Rotary Club District Governor, to hold a Rotary district conference in the arboretum April.
In addition, Magens has been selected by VITEMA as a tsunami warning siren pilot project. Nelthropp held off on a decision until he inspects the location of the siren.
Hubert Brumant, Magens manager, delivered welcome news. Partnering with the Red Cross, the Magens scholarship program graduated four lifeguards. "They are employed, two full-time, and two part-time," Brumant said. "The program, which cost $1,945, started with 12 trainees. Two fell through, and we are working with the other six to bring them up to par."
He said the beach has five full time lifeguards on duty daily. "We will need two more for Smith Bay," he said. "Now we have a pool to draw from."
Attending the meeting were board members Barry, Katrina Coulianos, Elliot McInver Davis, Robert Moron and Nelthropp. Francis was absent.