Monday morning the V.I. Police Department spearheaded its second phase of cleanup at the John F. Kennedy Terrace housing community in Christiansted.
Gaston Tuckett, the VIPD’s housing community liaison, led the cleanup effort in collaboration with the V.I. Police Department Special Operations Unit and several other government agencies, including Waste Management, Public Works and the V.I. Housing Authority.
“This initiative is to address the needs of the housing community to provide safe and sanitary conditions to everyone who lives here,” he said.
Last week, during the first phase of cleanup, lights were installed to include 11 additional light poles to keep the community lit and deter crime. This week they intend to move the fence back 150 feet from buildings 1 to 31, which will in effect remove squatters, horses, pit bulls, chickens, pigeons, and approximately 25 abandoned vehicles.
“Once all of this is in place, and the problem areas are cleaned out, we hope to revitalize and improve areas – like the baseball field,” he said, pointing to the open area, which is supposed to be a baseball field.
One fenced area that would not be touched is a garden directly beyond the basketball courts. The area had clearly been cleaned up of debris, and a vegetable garden containing corn, peppers, cucumbers and more was planted by Rasheen Knight and his girlfriend Xiomara Rodriguez.
“We started the garden to keep my kids out of problems, and it is intended to help them in school,” Rodriguez said.
Knight wanted to start his own project (for the kids), and intends to expand the entire area so that it can help out more people. He started it about seven months ago and has already given some of the cucumbers to neighbors.
Police spokeswoman Melody Rames explained that if a community is going to use the outlying areas, then an area like the garden is the type they would like to see.
“As opposed to the things we have seen before, which consists of a lot of debris and is usually a breeding ground for criminal activity,” she explained.
One obvious problem that the housing community is faced with is the amount of children who were not in school. At least 15 children, likely between the ages of 5 and 10, could be seen roaming around the grounds.
“That’s a whole separate issue and another problem altogether,” Rames said.
One step at a time, however, VIPD is putting its efforts into cleaning up the housing communities around St. Croix and St. Thomas. Last year, a number of other areas—including Aureo Diaz, William’s Delight, and Lorraine Village Apartments—were also cleaned up.