St. John Improvements Update!

St. John Improvements Update!

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.

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Shikima Jones-Sprauve

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!

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Disaster recovery projects broken down by completion.

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.
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Soon Come…We say goodbye to many of the power lines in the sky. WAPA aims to support 50% of its customer base with underground power.
    • 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.
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Department of Public Works patch roads in Coral Bay – Photo Courtesy Shikima Jones-Sprauve
    • 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.
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Crosswalks in Cruz Bay getting a facelift. – Photo courtesy Shikima Jones-Sprauve
  • 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.

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  • 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!
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Areas of interest with a large nuber of abandoned vehicles are recommended by community members to the administration
  • 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!

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  • Other notable projects are the restoration of the Adrian Senior Center, Pop-Up COVID testing and vaccination clinics, community events and so many more!
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The Adrian Senior Center re-opened this spring, giving the island’s elders community center for recreation and support

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).

10 thoughts on “St. John Improvements Update!”

  1. I was there in February and noticed how much cleaner the island looked. Especially how the abandoned cars were removed. Keep up the good work

  2. I never really understood why power lines were still above ground, not just on St.John but anywhere in the U.S.
    There are really no above ground power lines in the U.K. except in the heart of the country.
    It just makes sense to me. Thank you Ms. Administrator – so smart

  3. Thank you, Shikima! You are doing a great job. I visit St John often and always wanted to see those power and phone line buried. That will improve the view and make the lines safer and more secure during storms. Way to go !!!

  4. This is such fabulous news and such a long time coming for so many of these improvements! Does this mean the electrical lines in front of Grande Bay condo buildings will go underground? They’ve been the eyesore of all my photos for many years! Thanks 🙂

  5. so glad to see some action on much needed clean up! Especially abandoned cars! and road improvements. When we were there in February and March Centerline Road from Cruz Bay up was in terrible shape

  6. I have another suggestion for those of us who love St. John. We often bring a lot of supplies for our stay on the island and several suitcases bring those supplies
    . We plan to have several empty suitcases to bring home with us. We fill those suitcases with all the plastic we use on the island and we often pick up other plastics we find when we are walking or hiking. We normally have at least 2 suitcases full of plastic that we can recycle when we get home. Please consider doing this! Even if you have to pay $20 for a bag at the airport, isn’t it worth it to keep this island beautiful and help the ocean population? Whatever you bring in or use on the island that needs to be recycled, please plan to bring it home! The island cannot afford the costs of doing it at this time.

  7. I’ve been visiting St, John regularly since the mid nineties and most recently last month for two weeks. As I explored the Island (for the first time since hurricanes Irma and Maria) I mentioned to my girlfriend how impressed I was with all of the work and improvements that were being done. The Islands beaches hiking trails and roadsides seamed to be in much better shape. Your hard work is definitely being noticed!! Thank you so much for your hard work. I’m planning on returning for the winter again this fall.

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