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Monday, April 15, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsFinance Committee Approves Funds for STX Improvement Projects

Finance Committee Approves Funds for STX Improvement Projects

Sen. Kurt Vialet presides over Friday’s Finance Committee hearing. (Legislature photo)

The V.I. Senate Finance Committee forwarded four pieces of legislation on Friday that, if eventually enacted into law, would appropriate a total of over $4.5 million to fund four separate enhancement projects on St. Croix.

The committee-approved measures would lead to infrastructure improvement across St. Croix, Sen. Kurt Vialet said.

Approval to the bills could lead to renovations at the Ann E. Abramson Marine Terminal in Frederiksted, the pier at King’s Alley Hotel in Christiansted, the dock at Gallows Bay Marine Facility, the ramp at the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier at Krause Lagoon, the Police Athletic League Headquarters in Estate Whim, and the St. Croix Motor Sports Complex.

Damian Cartwright, the assistant executive director and director of engineering of the Virgin Islands Port Authority, told senators the potential appropriation of $2 million from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund would be used to replace the corroding pier at the Ann E. Abramson Marine Terminal.

Cartwright said the south side of the pier “is primarily used by businesses conducting cruise ship excursions and tours, fishermen, and other small vessel operators. It was damaged during the 2017 storms and has greatly deteriorated since then, as it is exposed to saltwater and open-air elements.”

Port Authority plans to replace the pier with a new 80-by-15-foot pier.

The marine terminal may not be the only pier receiving repairs. Should Bill No. 33-0014 be signed into law, the pier at King’s Alley Hotel in Christiansted, the dock at Gallows Bay Marine Facility and the ramp at the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier at Krause Lagoon would all be restored.

Jean-Pierre L. Oriol, Commissioner for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said the dock at Gallows Bay has needed repairs since 2015.

“When the project went out to bid, the proposals exceeded the amount of funding available to complete the repairs … DPNR was unable to secure additional funds through the federal program as well. We are hopeful that the $300,000 allocated towards this project will allow us to successfully implement the repairs on this pier,” Oriol said.

The ramp at the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier “has fallen into disrepair due to its use for offloading aggregate material at this site,” Oriol said.

“While in the past DPNR has been reluctant to attempt any investment at this site while this industrial operation is taking place, it is our position that closing this facility for construction and forcing this industrial activity to the proper location may be the best way to restore the use as a recreational launch point for the community,” Oriol said.

In addition to the potential for repaired docks across St. Croix, the island’s Police Athletic League headquarters may be renovated and the St. Croix Motor Sports Complex restored.

VIPD Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations Celvin Walwyn said the Police Athletic League was established in 1973 and served as a “community-based crime prevention program that offers recreational, educational, cultural, and social initiatives to youths while strengthening the bond between the police officers and children.”

Should the bill be signed into law, an appropriation of almost $300,000 from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund would be used to renovate the athletic league headquarters.

The facility hasn’t been renovated for more than 20 years Walwyn said and requires several repairs.

“The auditorium, music building located on the south side of the property needs to be repaired. The sound and light control booths are inoperable due to electrical and structural failures. There are other structures located on the southeastern side of the property that received severe damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.”

Just as much in need of restoration is the St. Croix Motor Sports Complex, which would have nearly $700,000 appropriated from the Community Facility Trust Fund to the Caribbean Drag Racing Association if the legislation is signed into law.

Caribbean Drag Racing Association, Inc. President Arthur Hector Sr. said if the funds are appropriated the repairs will include: the installation of security barriers for the drag strip, drag strip wedge and leveling, building a return road, installing internal fencing, restoring concession interior, timing tower repairs, restroom repairs, and the installation of a security camera system. “All of the repairs are critical for the safe opening of the facility,” Hector said.

In other business, the Finance Committee approved and sent to the Committee on Rules and the Judiciary:

– Bill No. 33-0003, which would require the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to implement an electronic permitting system and reduces time limits for the department to act on building permit applications.

– Bill No. 33-0004, which seeks to ensure taxes on imported gasoline are collected both accurately and swiftly.

– Bill No. 33-0024, which appropriates over $3.5 million to the Department of Justice to partially pay a settlement agreement between Vanterpool Enterprises and the Government of the Virgin Islands, another $2 million to the Department of Labor for outstanding Worker’s Compensation payments to medical providers, and an additional $40,000 to Clean Sweep Frederiksted for the enhancements done in Frederiksted.

Sens. Kurt Vialet, Samuel Carrion, Marvin Blyden, Donna Frett-Gregory, Dwayne DeGraff, Janelle Sarauw and Javan James Sr. were present for the hearing. Additional non-committee members were also present.

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