St. John Administrator Leona Smith is taking a new approach in her position — using her personable nature to encourage local businesses and residents to participate in community efforts.
Evidence of Smith’s partnership with community members can already be seen in the Frank Powell Park, where local developer Eric Tillett donated gravel, and throughout Cruz Bay, where local EDC company Hai-2 donated trash receptacles.
“I have a really good rapport with the private sector,” said Smith. “We are really close knit on St. John. You have to be personable to get things done, and I really would like to thank everyone who continues to come forward to make a better St. John a reality.”
Beautification of Cruz Bay
Next on Smith’s community service agenda is a day of beautification in Cruz Bay, when Bay Isle Associates, Westin Resort, Caneel Bay Resort and other local companies will come forward to help spruce up the island town.
“We have a beautification group, which is going to do some planting around the island and will be picking up trash, mainly in Cruz Bay,” said Smith. “We are getting a helping hand from the Westin, who will be buying some of the plants. Caneel Bay is going to help with that also.”
Westin General Manager Matt Balcik is excited to get started on beautifying the island, he explained.
“We did a quick walk around with Leona last week, and I felt like I was the governor,” said Balcik. “I’m just thinking, ‘let’s do this, let’s do that.’ You really get pumped up.”
Clean Up Advertisements
Possible initiatives the group hopes to take on include cleaning up advertisements around Cruz Bay, and pressure washing and painting curbs.
“We noticed all those freestanding signs for yachts and all kinds of services, and while the economy is critical, we wondered how we could make that information available in a little more organized and aesthetically acceptable way,” said Balcik. “We want to pressure wash curbs and paint all the way out to Leander Jurgen Command. We also hope to add some landscaping and benches around the town.”
The beautification group is also investigating sprucing up Cruz Bay’s parking lots.
Bay Isle Associates Also Contributing
“There is no separation between the customs parking lot and the road,” said Balcik. “We thought, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to have a line of palm trees separating the parking lot from the street?’”
Kelly Frye of Bay Isle Associates is also contributing to the beautification effort.
“My partners and I always wanted to do the right thing in the community, to participate in being a good neighbor,” said Frye. “We’re going to try to provide some additional help wherever it’s needed. It’s a community effort.”
While the beautification group is taking the betterment of St. John into its own hands, it will do so with the V.I. government’s blessing.
“We still need government support, not necessarily financially,” said Balcik. “We want their blessing. We want this to be a partnership.”
Others Invited To Participate
Balcik praised Smith’s efforts to get local businesses involved in the beautification of the island.
“Leona’s been great,” said Balcik. “She’s a fresh set of eyes. She’s really trying her hardest to get some volunteers.”
“We’re very happy to be able to do this, and I can’t wait,” Balcik added.
Smith will continue to solicit local companies for help, she explained.
“As time progresses, we are going to have other people come in and donate their resources,” said Smith.
Anyone interested in contributing to Smith’s effort should contact the administrator at 776-6484.