The Virgin Islands Port Authority is expected to select an architectural firm for the beautification of the its bulkhead property at Cruz Bay Creek by June.
The selection will come nearly a year after proposals from national firm Burns and McDonnell and St. Thomas architects deJongh and Associates were submitted in response to VIPA’s request for qualifications to design the project.
“We’re going to hire a designer to prepare plans and specs for making improvements in the creek,” said VIPA Executive Director Darlan Brin. “We haven’t done that as yet. We had an invitation for design submission and qualification, and with that we’ll select a designer to develop plans for improving the creek.”
As for the long-term plan and possible future uses of the VIPA-owned creek property, which has recently welcomed mini cruise ships and a 120-foot yacht, Brin is unsure what direction the property will take, he explained last week.
Public Input Important
“We’re going to have a plan with input from the public and VIPA,” said Brin. “We haven’t devised that plan as yet. We’ll probably come up with some schemes and ask for public input.”
Public input is an important part of the revamping of the creek, added Brin.
“We don’t want to come up with a plan in isolation,” he said. “We shouldn’t be here in St. Thomas planning for St. John.”
VIPA is taking care of minimal im-provements for the time being, according to Brin.
“We started revamping the fence, and we’re going to take down that unsightly frame where we had a tent,” he said. “We intend to replace it and remove old chairs. Those are just cosmetic changes, really.”
“In the long run, we plan to make significant improvements,” Brin added.
Brin hopes the beautification of the bulkhead and the surrounding VIPA-owned areas, which extend to the Virgin Islands National Park visitors center and the U.S. Customs building, will allow those currently using the property — including cruise ships and yachts — to remain.
“The plan should include whatever uses are there, without excluding anyone,” said Brin. “That plan has to be devised. We need to come up with something, because in the past that area was used for cargo, and the cargo is gone.”
Improving the creek’s accessibility to pedestrians is one possible future use for the area, explained Brin.
“The sidewalk there is very narrow, so that probably needs to be widened,” said Brin. “It also needs some landscaping. That’s not a pleasant or safe walk at the present time.”
Welcoming Yachts, Cruise Ships
The area has proved suitable to the mini cruise ships and yachts which have been docking at the creek on a regular basis.
Both the captain of the Spirit of Nantucket, a cruise ship which docks weekly at the creek, and the captain of the mega-yacht Bayou, which docked at the creek in early February, commented on VIPA’s willingness to welcome the vessels to Cruz Bay.
“The mini cruise ships are good for St. John because the commerce is good for St. John, in terms of passengers coming in,” said Brin. “We try to facilitate the movement that’s occurring, whether it’s cruise vessels at the creek or cargo at the Enighed Pond.”
VIPA plans to dredge the creek to continue to accommodate boats, added Brin.
“We’re going to have to do something in the creek in the near future in terms of maintenance dredging,” he said. “That place is getting shallower and shallower by the day.”
Brin said he did not know whether more cruise ships and yachts plan to call on the creek in the near future.