In the past 18 months or so, a branch of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce was organized on the island. Until then, members (like NewsofStJohn.com) had to go to STT for business camaraderie. Then Kate N Design's Kate Norfleet spearheaded a local chapter effort, with lots of help from Jose Penn, Andy Rutnik, Debbie Hime, and Fraser Drummon and many other business people.
Recently, The Chapter e-mailed Members about the accomplishments of 2010. There are so many, it's astonishing. And to the Inquiring Iguana, they look like the kind of good news about the island others would like to be made aware of. So, here 'tis:
• The Chapter, along with many other public and private individuals, had a successful year with regards to putting to the forefront the parking and waterfront issues with VIPA ––most visibly with the parking lot that is nearly completed at Enighed Pond, a project many people, including Steve Black, have worked a long time for and that we are grateful VI Port Authority and Governor deYongh finally made it a reality.
• Our work with Senator Barshinger's office to put together the Town Meeting on the Cruz Bay Waterfront and the subsequent Waterfront committee that has been formed and is meeting to make St. John's goals heard. The best part of this group is that it truly does represent a broad constituency from the St. John community working together with VIPA and other government officials to get the best plan possible for Cruz Bay.
• Honoring Cid Hamling at the Chamber Awards Banquet for her many years of dedication and hard work on behalf of St. John.
• Pulling together the St. John Community to oppose and influence the decision by VIPA to stop the institution of separate fees with turnstiles for travelers on the Red Hook Ferry.
• Having Don Porter be elected as the second St. John Member on the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, giving St. John a bigger voice in the business community
As we enter 2011, it is time to set some goals for the upcoming year. Though this list is long, it would be a tremendous help if you could tell us where you want to see the Chamber focus it’s efforts. Please let us know what you think is most important. Would any of you be willing to help or take on some of these projects?
• Increasing St. John Membership in the Chamber of Commerce. While membership has increased in the past years, we need more members. There are currently 56 St. John Members; 305 people get this blast. WE ALL BENEFIT, so please add joining the Chamber to you to-do list if you aren't already a member.
• Completion and delivery of Chamber Member Directory. We spent much time last year getting the data base current and prepared for there to be many more benefits and much more exposure for your business. This includes also getting the database ready for the website which is a project that is much too long overdue. (I must admit our shortcomings as well as our successes and am doing what I can to turn these projects out)
• Renewed involvement with public and private schools on St. John and community based projects such as the landscaping of the roundabout. The Chapter has been given the green light by Public Works to adopt this site and with the start of the new year, we hope to make rapid progress.
• Increased awareness of PSC and public transportation issues relevant to St. John residents and guests.
• Security Camera changes and additions are ongoing on St. John.
• Continued participation in the Waterfront Committee and efforts to reduce the amount of black fences on the Cruz Bay waterfront.
• Town traffic and ferry arrival issues
• Water taxi signs in Redhook, Cruz Bay and the Airport?
• Other directional signs throughout St. John
And 2011 has already brought achievement including getting one side of the dinghy dock rebuilt with private donations of time, materials and funds.
The Chapter is also now trying to do something to make the Cruz Bay Park Renovation project more positive for St. John while it is happening. Everyone is excited that the Park is being renovated but the loss of the entire park for the next few months is a challenge to our small town.