The V.I. National Park in St. John has dropped its admission charge at Trunk Bay for Saturday. It’s the Park’s way of observing a nationwide Public Lands Day. “It’s a good time to bring the family and enjoy the snorkel trail,” Beulah Dalmida-Smith, the Park’s spokeswoman, told the St. John Source. While children under 16 are always free at Trunk Bay, adults are charged $4. Dalmida-Smith said the Park has dropped its admission charge to visit the Annaberg Plantation. The money collected did not justify the cost of a fee collector, she said.
Coral Bay gets two cops
A pair of Virgin islands police officers, both of whom live on St. John, have been assigned duty five days a week in Coral Bay. The Department’s director of crime prevention activities, Kenneth Blake, told members of the Coral Bay Community Council that Alvin Wesselhoft of Coral Bay and Lorraine Sprauve of Cruz Bay will be on patrol Tuesday through Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. They have been assigned the duty for almost two weeks, but “vehicle problems” prevented them from going on patrol, according to the St. John Source. In remarks, Blake blamed some of the recent crime problems on construction workers being paid low wages. He also encouraged Coral Bay businesses to install security cameras.
Bids sought for new post office
The United States Postal Service is soliciting formal proposals for a new main post office on the island. A formal request for submissions was published by the St. John Source. It invites developers to propose a building that is “approximately 5,100 square feet on a site of approximately 52,000 square feet” within an area bounded by North Shore Road, the 104 Junction, Centerline Road and Wharfside. That suggests there are no plans for a mid-island facility or Coral Bay substation. Acceptable proposals would include a long term lease, or a new building constructed to U.S. Postal Service specifications. Offers will be accepted until Oct. 22.
Barshinger hopes 5th time is a charm
Unofficial results of Saturday’s primary voting show St. John resident Craig Barshinger with about 47 percent of the ballots to win the right to contest for the VI Senate’s At Large seat in the general election in November. His victory was a virtual landslide as his closest opponent garnered just 19 percent.
Real Estate report
Nothing happened in the last week. Could be perhaps because most peoples’ attention during part of the time was focused on tracking Hurricane Ivan, fearing it might decide to come north.
On the Multiple Listing Service, there were no additions or subtractions. No new listings, no indications of sales. As this week started, there were 35 residential properties listed.
Last week’s real estate report did NOT contain an error, it turns out. I reported there was a contract to buy the 1st Floor Bookstore. The deal fell through when a contingency was not met. So, the retail outlet at the Marketplace is back in the MLS’s commercial listings, offered at $200,000. There are five other businesses for sale, including two water sports opportunities.
The rest of the market is pretty quiet. Two more land listings came onto the market, bringing the total to 122. No change in condos, at 8 available, and one more timeshare bringing that category to 94.
Contractors accused of cheating
A VI Senator alleged St. John’s major contractors are not paying taxes.
During a hearing this week on proposals to strengthen the building code, Sen. Louis P. Hill challenged Brent E. Blyden, permits director at the Planning and Natural Resources Department, to have his inspectors check pay stubs at construction sites. Blyden responded, “That’s out of our jurisdiction,” the St. John Source reported.
The charge came during a meeting of the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee. On the agenda was a proposal for the VIs to adopt the International Building Code, already used by 44 states and the U.S. Defense Department. The update would be the first since Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. Island engineers said that they did not think the new code would “substantially” increase construction costs.
The growth in construction is, of course, noticeable to any resident. But during the hearing, director Blyden revealed the value of building permits issued in 2000 was $120 million. This year, he said, it will be $250 million.
Master development plan shown
A town meeting Oct. 5 will give residents the opportunity to comment on a proposed Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan proposed by the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. At a preliminary session, senators discussed the plan in a meeting at the St. John Legislature. It would designate land-use and water-use guidelines for areas, ranging from industrial to agriculture, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News. A master plan for the VIs is considered critical for St. John which has only 19.4 square miles of livable space. Sen. Roosevelt David, at the meeting, hinted opposition, saying the plan appeared driven by environmental concerns rather than economic development. “That’s what puts food on the table,” he said, according to the St. John Source. St. John resident and architect Rob Crane said he opposes the plan. The current zoning methods are fine, but they are not enforced, he told the Daily News. The Source has posted online a PDF file of the 284-page plan. You can get it here.
US Airways slashes (some) prices
Sept. 19 — US Airways announced at about Noon Tuesday it is offering special sale fares throughout its system for two days only. Roundtrip prices start as low as $179 for Caribbean travel – but it may not include OUR Caribbean. An initial search of fares found no discount to St. Thomas midweek from LaGuardia or Washington National – tickets about $450. (I did find a deal for about $200 from Nashville!) Special fare offerings are for Monday-Thursday, and travel must be completed by Dec. 16. Purchase tickets no later than Wednesday.
Assaults prompt neighborhood training
The Coral Bay Community Council has scheduled Neighborhood Watch training to be included in its monthly meeting, Sept. 13. following a number of robberies in the area in August. The V.I. Police Department’s crime prevention director, Kenneth Blake, will attend. The Council’s president, Sharon Coldren, said the session will alert residents how to notice “suspicious activity” and gather information on which the police act, according to a report by the St. John Source . The meeting, and training, is open to all island residents.
ATA, US Air add direct flights
During the fall season, there will be almost 50 direct flights to St. Thomas from the mainland. The newest scheduled routes are a second nonstop Saturday flight from Charlotte, N.C. by US Air and the first nonstop Saturday service from Indianapolis by ATA. “We look forward to one of the best fall/winter seasons in recent history,” said Pamela Richards, USVI Tourism Commissioner. “With increased airlift to St. Thomas and the Territory’s new ‘Fall Into America’s Caribbean’ seasonal promotion, the outlook for the fall and winter travel seasons is good,” she added.”