Drivers Roam as Cruz Bay Parking Access Dwindles

Fewer parking spaces in Cruz Bay and those taken up by derelict cars bring seasonal headaches to St. John drivers.
Photo by Judi Shimel.

ST. JOHN — With the annual opening of St. John Festival Village a few days away, a caravan is winding through the streets of Cruz Bay. Drivers are on the move, looking for a place to park.

Parking is a frequent topic at town meetings. This year, in addition to losing 30 spaces with the closing of the Cruz Bay Parking Lot to festival village, a smaller municipal lot is also closed at the foot of the St. John Lumberyard.

Added to that are several vehicles occupying space near the Theovald Moorehead Marine Terminal, some with flat tires and grass growing around them. That lot is operated by the VI Port Authority.

A special advisor to Gov. Kenneth Mapp says talks are underway to try and alleviate the problem. “Right now we’re in the process of working with the Port Authority,” said Senior Advisor Franklin Johnson.

Talks with Port Authority Director David Mapp took place as recently as the Father’s Day weekend, he said. In order for the governor’s Abandoned Vehicle Task Force to remove abandoned cars there, Johnson said, the Port Authority must say yes.

“The local government can’t just go on the property and take the vehicles. We have to get permission from the Port Authority, then we can go in with the Abandoned Vehicle Task Force and remove those vehicles.”

Even if port officials say yes, it would not immediately lead to towing derelict cars. Vehicles would have to be tagged and owners given seven days to remove them before the task force can act, Johnson said.

One resident said she counted 43 vehicles in the lot near the barge dock that showed no signs of having gone anywhere, including one that is being used as a dwelling. Tradewinds was not able to confirm the count, but did spot vehicles with flat tires, one packed with personal belongings. There was also a gray compact with the door open and a woman wearing orange pants sitting inside.

By 7:45 am on a weekday morning, the sound of tires rolling through parking lot gravel is heard every five minutes or so. Some succeed in finding a coveted spot. Others just roll on.

Which means motorists coming to town have become more creative. Near Santo’s Laundromat, across the road from the Animal Care Center, parked cars line the roadway and abut the shipping containers outside.

Typically the grounds of the Winston Wells Ballpark would be opened to accommodate the parking overflow. But the space is being used as a Festival venue. The June 18 Princess Pageant just passed and the St. John Festival Queen Show is scheduled for June 24. Students from the Julius E. Sprauve School have used the ballpark at recess until the semester ended on June 22.

Until then, the caravan continues. Johnson said some relief might come by relaxing restrictions in the lot across the road from the Cruz Bay Bulkhead. The dozen or so parking spots have been cut off by orange barriers and yellow tape since workers began efforts to remove an old water tank there.

Work on tank removal, started in February, was delayed because of technical problems, Johnson said. The initial approach was to drain the water, dismantle the tank and remove it.

But as the work progressed, Johnson said, a problem appeared. The bottom of the tank was coated in sludge. Until engineers are brought in to remove the sludge, he said, work on taking down the tank is stopped.

The special advisor said he would talk with St. John Administrator Camille Paris, Jr. to see if motorists could have access to that parking lot until then.