The old barge dock area has now become an outdoor garage for ferry repairs, a parking lot, and a dock for small cruise ships. It could be, and should be, much more.
Smart planning now could turn this valuable waterfront into an attractive boardwalk and plaza, offering visitors options for exploring the island and the Park, water sports and activities, and maybe a spot to enjoy a rum-and-Coke. Light retail with island-made art, hot sauce, jewelry and pottery could be featured, too.
This has a chance of happening if the Port Authority "thinks different," as Steve Jobs would say.
The Authority should offer the land for lease to commercial or island-based, community-minded developers. The deal should be structured to benefit Cruz Bay and groups like the Baby Pan Dragons or Sprauve School. It is not unreasonable to expect far-sighted dreamers to offer the island incentives, either cash or in-kind projects, to improve some of the deteriorating public facilities on the island.
Planning of the waterfront development should also be a joint effort by private developers and the community. The winner(s) ought to be required to give groups like the St. John Coalition a seat at the drawing table. Public meetings should offer citizens the opportunity to explain what they would like to see in the project.
The Port Authority has had no problem issuing long leases (20-40 years) for car rentals and food stands across the street, where Nature’s Nook is. The Authority should seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to improve St. John.