Good Morning! I hope everyone out there had a fantastic weekend! Generally, I wake up on Mondays moving a bit slow (you hear me, right?). But today as I took Chewy out for a walk and watered the plants, the sights around me were absolutely energizing! The water is like shimmery glass right now. The recent wave of Sahara dust has moved on, and the brilliant blues of the sea and the sky are beaming as you can see in the above photo. It’s a beautiful morning here on St. John. And I read an absolutely inspiring report about some up-coming improvements including a new community area, shelter and event center that are in the works for downtown Cruz Bay. It seems that our little town is getting a future facelift in the most positive way possible!
A few weeks ago, I shared with you a story about the playground renovations near the National Park Dock in Cruz Bay that are now well underway. This is a collaborative project of Friends of Virgin Islands National Park and the National Park Service (NPS) that is primarily driven by donation and grant funding.
Both the playground and the ballfield adjacent to it will be under the management of our local Sports, Parks and Recreation Department (SPR) according to a memorandum of understanding signed between the USVI and NPS three months ago. In the Thursday night meeting about the new developments (hang tight, I’m getting there!), it was announced that the ballfield is just waiting for lighting to be installed before it will be open to the public for use as an arena for baseball, softball, soccer and more! Now, this is exciting stuff because this field has been closed and in major disrepair for over FIVE YEARS!
Ok, so these new improvements to our downtown area will center around the gravel lot near the tennis courts and the SPR facility across the street from the Fire Station.
While the group of community members and government officials that met last week had a lot to talk about, including a complete redesign and installation of a new wastewater treatment plant, they will await further community weigh in over the coming months as to what the new community gathering space at the 3.75-acre property should include. They will attempt to gather community weigh in via social media and on the ground canvassing efforts. However, there are some VERY exciting items in the preliminary designs for the park including the following:
- Stage for events and concerts
- Parking area
- Track around the perimeter for running, walking, cycling, etc.
- Shaded coverings for gatherings
- An additional play space for the kiddos
- Sports Fields
- An area for food vendors
How cool would that be!? I have always dreamed of St. John having an outdoor food plaza, similar to the ones we have visited in Oregon and Denver. Picture this: Everyone in your family gets their own pick for dinner (hopefully lots of local food vendors!), the kids are playing on the playground while you wait and there’s live music happening on the stage during dinner. What a dream! In addition, a FLAT space to run or walk? What!!! Other items on the short list are pickleball courts and a skate park.
Now, in addition to all of the fun stuff…Well, you have driven the road around the tennis courts and around to the car barge, correct? We all know the havoc it reeks on the suspension of our cars with its perilous potholes and consistent flooding during rainy times of the year. Well, that little stretch of Fish Fry Road is also on the table for a rebuild and will be discussed in later meetings with Department of Public Works.
Just up the hill from the parking lot, on the right side of the road (just before you enter the roundabout), is the SPR facility. The Office of Disaster Recovery has set aside $2.6 million in order to renovate and repair this 14,000 square foot space and the initial plans include a gym, offices, vocational classrooms, a computer lab and an emergency operations center for VITEMA. Additional plans are in place for a 110-bed emergency storm shelter at the SPR facility and the old vocational classrooms next door which were damaged badly by Hurricane Irma. Bet ya didn’t know that St. John does not, in fact, currently have a large space for residents and visitors to seek shelter from the storms…
So, while I know some of these things may not be of a daily importance to all of you readers out there, these first steps towards the beautification of Cruz Bay will provide all residents and visitors with new ways to play outside and engage with the community. I am so incredibly excited about all of the forward motion on St. John over the past year. Centerline Road is no longer as treacherous a stretch as it has been for many years, WAPA is going underground and with that project comes more road improvements, the playground and NPS ballfield will once again be filled with the laughter of children in the coming months and this new project will add SO much to our downtown area!
Have a great Monday all! Personally, mine is off to a great start 🙂
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