Anyone who’s driven by Cruz Bay after the sun goes down knows that the town can be a noisy place.
Now downtown businesses, via the St. Thomas/St. John Chamber of Commerce’s St. John Chapter, are fighting for stricter enforcement of the Virgin Islands’ noise ordinance.
“The law needs to be worded much better than it is, and enforcement needs to be across the board,” said Castaways owner Jeff Quinlan. “The law is very generalized.”
While Quinlan has been approached by V.I. Police Department officers despite his efforts to keep noise at his bar to a minimum, he’s witnessed officers ignoring blaringly loud music emitting from other downtown establishments and even from cars, he said.
“It’s painful to drive by these places even with the windows rolled up in my car,” agreed St. John Chamber board representative Don Porter.
Businesses from Estate Lindholm to Lavender Hill, both just outside of Cruz Bay on opposite ends of the town, have faced issues with the noise level, Cruz Bay Boutique Hotel owner David Guidi explained.
“There are a few places that are so loud at three and four in the morning that it spoils it for everybody else,” said Guidi, who suggested that VIPD officers making use of noise meters would help solve the problem.
Castaways owner Quinlan lauded the FBI and DEA on their recent drug busts, saying it’s reduced the size of the crowd that usually hangs out across the street from his bar allegedly selling drugs.
“We’ve noticed a huge difference,” he said. “If local police followed that trend and enforced the No Loitering sign there, it would help to solve the problem.”
While it’s up to the VIPD to enforce the law, the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, which grants the business licenses determining which establishments can play loud music — within the limits of the law — should also be involved in the discussion of making Cruz Bay a quieter place, said St. John Administrator Leona Smith.
Chamber members agreed to invite VIPD and DLCA representatives to next month’s meeting in order to further the discussion.
Also on the agenda was the issue of the approved gas station project near Power Boyd, where excavation has reportedly begun.
“Gasoline will have to go over Jacob’s Ladder,” said Porter. “It’s a potential serious disaster.”
“We really need to step up our objection,” added Cid Hamling.
Chamber members agreed to follow up on a rumored opposition to the project by a neighboring property owner, who claims the gas station’s plans encroach on her land.
On the heels of Administrator Smith’s announcement that V.I. Port Authority board member Robert O’Connor will soon recommend restricted parking at the VIPA-owned U.S. Customs lot, Chamber Chapter members agreed to formally recommend that parking at the lot be restricted to two hours during the day and three hours during the evening.
Chamber members also lamented the recent proposal of a bill to add a one cent import fee per pound to everything arriving in the territory aside from food and medicine.
“It sounds innocuous, but it’s a little deceptive,” said Porter. “It gets interesting with things like building materials.”
“It’s not a good bill,” added Hamling.