If you have been on island recently, you may have noticed a lot of workers on the roads, in the parking lots and at dump sites. If you come down frequently, you may have taken note over time of the diminishing number of derelict vehicles, trash on the roadsides, potholes in the roads and jumbled power lines in your sight lines. Recently, the Government House VI has started a video series entitled “The Administrators’ Corner,” allowing our lovely Island Administrator, Shikima Jones-Sprauve, to address the community and recap the work that her team, in partnership with local contractors and the Bryan-Roach Administration, have been able to get started and get completed since she took office in 2019. Improvements are on the move and on the horizon for the infrastructure and accessibility here on St. John!
First, let me break down how this works…The Governor is an elected official and oversees the governance of all of the islands in the territory. Each island is led by a Governor appointed Island Administrator on the ground. And I, personally, was thrilled from the start to hear that Shikima would be the St. John Island Administrator.
She hit the ground running in a time that we were still very much in recovery mode from the 2017 storms, Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and has done a stellar job of listening to and working with her community about their wants and needs. And she puts her money where her mouth is. I’m not quite sure if she has time to sleep at night with all the work that she has been overseeing. Ha!
A few notable projects underway that you may have notice just from driving around:
- Construction crews are everywhere.
- Currently, WAPA and local contractors are working to put the power lines underground across a large portion of the island as part of a hazard mitigation project. Phase one began in March to lay power lines underground from Mongoose Junction to Frank Bay. Phase two plans for underground lines to go in between Frank Bay and the Myra Keating Smith Clinic in Susannaberg. The following phases plan to extend the buried lines to the Westin Resort via Southside Road, and to Maho Bay via North Shore Road. Following the burying of the power cables, the corresponding poles and lines will be removed, allowing for more resilient power and recovery of the power in the event of a storm and the removal of eyesores from the skyline.
- You may remember the stretch of flat road in Adrian between Gifft Hill and Catherineberg as being quite the thoroughfare. I know my island car does! Well, this summer the straightaway was completely excavated and paved and it is now so smooth that, in the words of Shikima in her first video presentation, “you could roller skate on it.” —Not recommended. Ha! She tells us that they are currently patching many of the other “problem” areas on the St. John, but by 2022, we should see many of our roadways will be undergoing the same beautiful facelift as this once hazardous to your vehicle’s health straightaway.
- Crosswalks and lines are being repainted as well. St. John local businesses have been contracted to repaint the crosswalks, sidewalks and directional arrows all over the island.
- Trash bin sites are cleaner and relocated.
- Many people were not very happy to hear that the large dumpster in Great Cruz Bay was scheduled for removal earlier this month. We wondered the logic behind removing a dump site when ALL of them are constantly overflowing. Well, the plans set for the Pine Peace dump site that were executed amidst the removal of the Great Crux Bay dumpster set my mind to rest. MANY additional forty foot bins have been added to the space just across from EC Gas station. It is clean and well organized and emptied and maintained regularly. Remember when I said to bring your beach trash to town with you to “pack in, pack out?” Well, this is an ideal location for you with both Pine Peace Mini-Mart and The Marketplace close by! Dump your beach trash and pick up your last minute items for dinner or cocktails before you head back to your accommodations.
- Derelict cars have been, and continue to be, removed from our road ways. In a multi-step process, vehicles are tagged for removal, giving the owners seven days to claim them and arrange for their removal to avoid the $1000 plus in fines associated with the government’s disposal of the vehicle. If they remain unclaimed, they will then be moved by locally owned tow truck companies contracted by the government to a compound on St. John, giving the owner an additional 30 days to claim them. If the vehicle remains unclaimed, it will be moved to the Bovoni Landfill of St. Thomas where it will be discarded at the owners expense. This initiative was announced by Governor Bryan in March of 2019 and, since, close to 100 abandoned vehicles have been removed from Love City!
- The Battery is being restored! The beautiful historic building on the point in the center of Cruz Bay was severely damaged during hurricanes Irma and Maria. The building is currently undergoing restoration and construction and, very soon, the grounds should be open again for the public to stroll about and enjoy!
- Other notable projects are the restoration of the Adrian Senior Center, Pop-Up COVID testing and vaccination clinics, community events and so many more!
This is just the tip of the iceberg…So many projects are currently being done by Shikima and her team and their community partners under the guidance of the Bryan-Roach Administration. I, personally, am so very excited to be here on St. John to watch this team work to beautify the island and make her more accessible and resilient in the years to come. For more information on these projects, please watch the Administrators’ Corner videos on the VI Government House Facebook Page (Episode 3 and Episode 6 feature Shikima and St. John’s Improvement Projects).