Like the minor league ball player who has a hitting streak and seems headed for the majors, the Paul E. Joseph Stadium project has gotten a burst of positive hits and appeared ready to make it out of the design stage a couple of times. But then it runs into another slump. The sad ballplayer stays in the minors because of a lack of production; the proposed stadium for Frederiksted has stayed in the design stage because of a lack of money.
The stadium is listed on the Department of Public Works website as an active project, but so is the proposed St. Croix bike path and no one has seen action on that in the last decade.
Among those unhappy with the stagnant state the stadium appears to be in is Sen. Javan James Sr.
On Sunday he sent out a press release saying, “The prolonged delay with the Paul E. Joseph Stadium project is unacceptable.”
He said then Gov. John de Jongh in October 2014 signed a law setting out the sources of security for the financing of the design and construction of the project, but five years later James says he sees no progress on the ground north of Frederiksted. The first-phase of the project calls for the construction of a 700-seat Little League facility, complete with team amenities and also a permanent festival village ground in Frederiksted.
Senators being unhappy about the progress of the project is not new. The headline after a budget hearing two years ago said, “Senators Frustrated with Delays on Paul E. Joseph Stadium.”
On Monday officials from another administration said basically what officials from the two administrations before it have said, it will get done. Senators may hope this is the hitting streak that takes the stadium all the way home.
Public Works engineer James Grum told senators certain capital improvement projects had been “reprioritized,” and then he said the stadium would be completed at the end of next year. $20 million has been appropriated for the project; $12 million of that has been spent getting the project through the design and site assessment stage and some foundation work.
Sen. Kurt Vialet, Finance Committee chair, said he was troubled by the numbers.
“$10 million spent and I don’t see any concrete. I don’t see any blocks. We got $10 million worth of dirt and beams,” Vialet said.
He said it was obvious that $20 million was not going to be enough for the project. He questioned Grum what the real cost of the project would be. Grum said $27 million, and on further questioning, said the 2020 completion date was contingent on the Senate appropriating another $7 million for the project.
James wrote earlier in the week, “I’m calling on Gov. Albert Bryan and Commissioner nominee Calvert White of Sports, Parks and Recreation to push this project forward because Sports Tourism is a must for the U.S. Virgin Islands. The need to change course is now, so that the Virgin Islands can tap into another revenue source that can stimulate our economy.”