School kids and senior citizens who get dropped off near the traffic light by the SFC Leonard B. Francis Armory on St. Thomas will soon have a safer and more comfortable space to wait for a ride home up the steep hill.
On April 27, members of the Rotary Club of St. Thomas East and the Community and Police Association joined local residents to break ground on the shelter, which is scheduled to be completed later this month.
Bruce Flamon, former president and founder of CAPA, explained that pedestrian benches were already located where the shelter will be placed, but a car destroyed them about a year and a half ago.
My Brother’s Workshop has since replaced the benches but the Rotary Club of St. Thomas East wanted to add more protection from the natural elements for those who are waiting.
“When it rains, those children are out there in the dark in the morning with no shelter waiting for their rides to school and can only huddle up, while the seniors have to sit there and wait in the heat,” Flamon said, adding that many of the people who wait there are hitchhiking up the hill to get home.
To raise the roughly $2,000 needed for the shelter’s construction, Rotary East donated funds and organized a fundraiser cookout with CAPA.
“The Rotary Club of St. Thomas East has taken the lead to provide the funds for the shed’s construction,” Flamon said.
Andreas “The German” Tietge, an active St. Thomas community member, even donated $1,000 to the cause, despite not living on the east end of St. Thomas.
“On the spur of the moment, I called Bruce and donated the money to help start get the donations rolling,” Tietge said. “Bruce is very engaged in our community and I find it hard to believe how long it can take to just raise $2,000 dollars.”
Area businesses also donated supplies for the shelter, with ProSolar gifting a solar light and Colormax providing the signage that will be put in the shelter to thank the partners who helped make the shelter a reality. To reduce the building costs, the Department of Public Works waved the construction permit fees.
Rotary Club members who run contractor businesses will provide the labor for the shelter’s construction free of charge and, once construction fully begins in about two weeks, Flamon said the shelter will take three to four days to build.
Flamon said CAPA plans to partner with more community organizations to build pedestrian shelters in other areas of the island. There are plans to build another shelter across the street from the one currently being built near the armory too.
“The best part is that we use the community organizations to get these projects built, so we don’t need to wait on the government. We just need it to wave the building permit fees,” Flamon explained.
Community organizations and members interested in having a pedestrian shelter built in their area can contact CAPA by calling Flamon at 340-513-4041.