The Port Authority was hoping to bring in 40,000 cruise ship passengers to St. Croix for the upcoming tourist season. But the projected number has increased to 145,000 passengers with ships entering the district at full capacity as a result of collaboration with Sports, Parks and Recreation at the Frederiksted pier, Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe said during Wednesday’s board meeting. Work being done on the beaches and the addition of excursions are anticipated to be major attractions.
The Port Authority governing board shared their 2023 fiscal year budget, updates on projects, and updates on tenants, but refrained from much discussion of the $17 million that was recently approved by the Public Finance Authority for the dredging of the St. Thomas Harbor.
Soon after Executive Director Carlton Dowe shared his monthly report, board member Lionel Jacobs questioned the millions of dollars that he “noticed in the paper” being approved by the Public Finance Authority to dredge the harbor at the WICO dock.
“Seventeen million dollars has been made available to dredge the harbor. I notice you didn’t say anything about that, and this is a very big item … what is the silence all about,” asked Jacobs.
“It’s not silence on our behalf,” responded Dowe. “But while that discussion has been had and the talk is there, this is a process that still needs legislative authorization as far as I understand.”
Dowe said he reached out to the Public Finance Authority but while the item was addressed, to his knowledge, it is not officially approved.
“While that discussion at the PFA board took action, based on my understanding, they’re still now having to forward that at the Legislature. I don’t want to anticipate what might happen or what might not happen, but that’s where that is.”
The Port Authority board also discussed the upcoming fiscal year budget, with $266.2 million approved for the 2023 fiscal year. According to a breakdown provided by the Port Authority’s finance committee, the following will be allocated to the budget:
Operating revenues – $72,702,000
Passenger facility charges – $697,000
Car rental facility charges – $700,000
Capital grants – $168,851,000
Cash reserves and other – $10,588,000
ARPA Act – $6,400,000
Government grants – $2,874,000
Debt-funded marine projects – $3,373,000
In addition, Dowe highlighted the recent opening of the Gordon Finch Molasses Pier on St. Croix and two projects underway in both districts that are making strides. The other highlighted project is the Cyril E. King Airport parking garage and transportation center.
“The Cyril E. King Airport parking garage and transportation project is progressing very well. The project is getting ready to pour within the next week, week and a half, in excess of 300 yards of concrete for the second floor,” said Dowe.
He added that the Port Authority has been receiving requests from car rental agencies for space reservations at the garage. The project is expected to be completed by April 2023.
Currently, there are seven active projects in the St. Thomas-St. John district and 18 projects in the St. Croix district with more to come online shortly.