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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSmith Bay Park Getting Major Makeover

Smith Bay Park Getting Major Makeover

Alfred Gumbs of Apex Construction stands by area being prepared for survey and silt apron placement, to prevent sediment runoff.Work crews from Apex Construction began preparing this week to pave the way to Smith Bay Park on St. Thomas’ East End.

First on the agenda, however, is clearing bush, establishing silt fences, and surveying and grading the now dirt and rock-embedded entrance to the crescent-shaped white sand beach and its wooded surroundings.

But in 90 days Robert Moron, chairman of the Magens Bay Authority, which manages the Smith Bay property, said there should be a smooth asphalt road extending from the Smith Bay Road entrance to the fork where admittance fees are currently collected.

Beyond the fork to the north and south, the road will remain packed sand until the budget allows for synthetic brick-like pavers, Moron said.

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The road is the beginning of the gentle development slated for the popular 21-acre park that faces east toward St. John and the British Virgin Islands.

"We don’t view [the work] as a major impact, " Moron said.

The land was purchased by the V.I. government for use as a park in early 2006, after many failed attempts by developers to put condominiums or hotels on the property.

Magens Bay authority took over the management in 2007.

A $1.3 million allotment last year from the local government will pay for the road, as well as a gate and bathhouse.

And Moron hopes a partnership yet to be established will see the completion of a concession building that could bring the funds needed for the park to be perpetually self-supporting as is its sister Magens Bay.

The gatehouse will be constructed close to Smith Bay Road with parking adjacent, while the plans call for the bathhouse to be just south of the fork on the west side of the road.

The idea of having parking near the entrance is to mitigate erosion and wear and tear closer to the beach.

People will be allowed to drive to the beach and drop off passengers and beach paraphernalia, and then drive back toward the entrance. From there, they will walk on a newly established sidewalk the 200 feet back to the beach.

Expect major improvements soon at Smith Bay Park.Golf carts will be provided for those unable to make the short walk.
The park can comfortably accommodate 500 people, according to Moron. And keeping cars away from the fragile shoreline will assure it remains pristine.

Only two sheds will eventually be erected as compared to four at Magens.

The concession restaurant will also be constructed closer to the public roadway on a knoll that will offer a view from the second floor toward the cays and islands to the east.

Moron hopes the restaurant will itself be an evening destination that will draw "locals" while providing additional revenue for the park.

All of the buildings are designed at this point to include local blue bit stone as part of the construction material and facades.

Although the stone is more expensive, Moron noted that it’s part of an important cultural design element, adding that he hopes that some, if not all, of the stone will be donated by local building material suppliers.

Along with the dream of habitat-friendly building, Moron envisions small trails through the bush and around the salt ponds that lie hidden between the beach and the open fields once dotted with grazing cattle.

The McGuire group won the bid to complete the conceptual drawings.

A public meeting is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the park where the plans will be showcased to the community.

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Alfred Gumbs of Apex Construction stands by area being prepared for survey and silt apron placement, to prevent sediment runoff.Work crews from Apex Construction began preparing this week to pave the way to Smith Bay Park on St. Thomas’ East End.

First on the agenda, however, is clearing bush, establishing silt fences, and surveying and grading the now dirt and rock-embedded entrance to the crescent-shaped white sand beach and its wooded surroundings.

But in 90 days Robert Moron, chairman of the Magens Bay Authority, which manages the Smith Bay property, said there should be a smooth asphalt road extending from the Smith Bay Road entrance to the fork where admittance fees are currently collected.

Beyond the fork to the north and south, the road will remain packed sand until the budget allows for synthetic brick-like pavers, Moron said.

The road is the beginning of the gentle development slated for the popular 21-acre park that faces east toward St. John and the British Virgin Islands.

"We don’t view [the work] as a major impact, " Moron said.

The land was purchased by the V.I. government for use as a park in early 2006, after many failed attempts by developers to put condominiums or hotels on the property.

Magens Bay authority took over the management in 2007.

A $1.3 million allotment last year from the local government will pay for the road, as well as a gate and bathhouse.

And Moron hopes a partnership yet to be established will see the completion of a concession building that could bring the funds needed for the park to be perpetually self-supporting as is its sister Magens Bay.

The gatehouse will be constructed close to Smith Bay Road with parking adjacent, while the plans call for the bathhouse to be just south of the fork on the west side of the road.

The idea of having parking near the entrance is to mitigate erosion and wear and tear closer to the beach.

People will be allowed to drive to the beach and drop off passengers and beach paraphernalia, and then drive back toward the entrance. From there, they will walk on a newly established sidewalk the 200 feet back to the beach.

Expect major improvements soon at Smith Bay Park.Golf carts will be provided for those unable to make the short walk.
The park can comfortably accommodate 500 people, according to Moron. And keeping cars away from the fragile shoreline will assure it remains pristine.

Only two sheds will eventually be erected as compared to four at Magens.

The concession restaurant will also be constructed closer to the public roadway on a knoll that will offer a view from the second floor toward the cays and islands to the east.

Moron hopes the restaurant will itself be an evening destination that will draw "locals" while providing additional revenue for the park.

All of the buildings are designed at this point to include local blue bit stone as part of the construction material and facades.

Although the stone is more expensive, Moron noted that it’s part of an important cultural design element, adding that he hopes that some, if not all, of the stone will be donated by local building material suppliers.

Along with the dream of habitat-friendly building, Moron envisions small trails through the bush and around the salt ponds that lie hidden between the beach and the open fields once dotted with grazing cattle.

The McGuire group won the bid to complete the conceptual drawings.

A public meeting is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at the park where the plans will be showcased to the community.