Thanks to the annual AARP Community Challenge Grant and the V.I. Trail Alliance, St. Croix should see its first paved bike path by Nov. 1 – the first of its kind in the Virgin Islands.
“The challenge is the community coming together to advance AARP’s vision,” Alma Winkfield, vice president of V.I. Trail Alliance, said. AARP’s goals for the grant include improving public places and creating community connectivity through walking and biking.
The V.I. Trail Alliance, a non-profit community organization, won the $22,500 grant and has already begun drawing plans and ordering signage, paint and other materials. They will partner with the V.I. Public Works Department to complete the one-mile project on the Christiansted Bypass by November.
Winkfield – a retired emergency room nurse – designed the project, measured the road and produced the drawings for Public Works, who will add the striping, markings at intersections and reflectors according to Department of Transportation standards.
“Through the years, we’ve always done things for ourselves and now we’re just bringing it to the community,” she said about the work she and her husband, a retired police officer have done with the organization.
The first mile of a path that Winkfield hopes will circle the island some day will start at the Gallows Bay stoplight at the bottom of the Christiansted Bypass. Bikes will share the well-marked passing lane with cars and then veer off to the side of the road to the end of the bypass. Intersections will be designated with bright green pavement markings and upright indicators.
“This little bike path project is just the kickoff. There’s more to come,” Winkfield said.
The Trail Alliance, comprised of a number of outdoor enthusiasts, is working on plans to add a storytelling circle under the big tree at the D.C. Canegata Recreation Center. Comfortable seating with be placed in a circle encouraging conversation and one larger chair for anyone who wants to be the storyteller.
The group is also working on GIS mapping of current hiking and biking trails around the island as well as all of the island’s schools. They have applied for a grant to add signs, smooth the road and cut bush so the ocean view is open from Scenic Drive West.
The organization has plans to reopen the trails at Windsor Farms, create bike paths or bike lanes from Christiansted to Frederiksted, and build the South Shore Multi Use Pathway and a loop around Gallows Bay. In the future they will apply for funding to build another park and pedestrian walkways.
If anyone doubts the Winkfields can transform a place, they should visit Sundial Park in Tulipan Welcome. They received a grant from the V.I. Department of Agriculture and with other volunteers converted a two-acre dumpsite in their front yard into a neighborhood park, compete with a sundial, seating, shaded areas and drainage to control flooding.