Magens Bay Authority officials announced Thursday that the newly paved, sidewalk-flanked driveway into Smith Bay Park will open to the public at 9 a.m. this Saturday.
“To be driving on a smooth road going down to that beach, it’s all for the people of the Virgin Islands. It’s history in the making,” said Hubert Brumant, general manager of the Authority.
The unveiling comes close to six months after Apex Construction crews began work on the 500-foot-long asphalt driveway, which extends from the Smith Bay Road entrance to the fork where admittance fees are currently collected.
The new driveway – which has two, 10-foot-wide lanes – employs drainage mechanisms that include curb and gutter, concrete swale, and rip rap. Five feet from the roadway sits a five-foot-wide, ADA-compliant sidewalk, which will allow pedestrians and people with disabilities another way to get from the parking lot and bus stop to the beach. The site also includes connections for potable water, electric and communications-related utilities, Brumant 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.
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 park’s management in 2007.
A $1.3 million allotment in 2010 from the local government paid for the $263,892 road. That leaves money for the many other planned park improvements, which include a gatehouse, bathhouse, two sheds, parking areas and a concession stand/restaurant.
“Were trying to stretch it,” Brumant said of the funds.
The Authority’s major Coastal Zone Management application for the improvements, which also include plans for a small native botanical garden and additional stabilization of internal roads, was prepared by the Maguire Group, Brumant said. The government approved the Authority’s CZM permit on Dec. 7, he said.
Brumant said the Authority’s overall vision for the park will maintain the property’s natural aspects.
“It is estimated that the project will be completed in two years,” Brumant said in the release.
This winter has been a busy one for the Authority, which also just recently installed a sliding gate at the entrance to Magens Bay Park.
Authority Chairman Robert Morón said the gate, which had been planned for more than a year, was installed to keep the public out in the event of dangerous situations such as hurricane high water or surf.
The Authority will paint the gate a suitable green or brown hue once it weathers, as that will allow the paint to stick, Morón said.