St. John proved its worth as “Love City” as island residents and businesses helped with major renovations at the Cruz Bay Housing, Parks and Recreation building.
The offices, which were located in the middle of the building, were torn down and moved to the back of the building, providing more room for the activities that HPR offers the island’s children.
“The offices used to be in the middle, leaving only a small space for the kids,” said Shikima Jones of HPR. “The capacity was too small.”
Moving the offices also allowed for the construction of a second bathroom, creating separate restroom facilities at the building for girls and boys.
The renovations began in September and were expected to be completed October 30.
“We are going to open next week whether we’re finished or not,” said Jones on Thursday morning, October 26.
Safe Haven for After-School Activities
Several of HPR’s activities are based at the building, including softball, Love City Leapers, basketball and the Love City Pan Dragons.
The building is also a safe place for children to come after school to do homework and socialize.
“We have a computer lab, tutoring and the kids can play pool and cards — but they must do their homework first,” said Jones.
The St. Thomas Home Depot provided major support for the renovation of the building as its quarterly “Team Depot” project, explained store manager Scott Kiefer.
“Four times a year, we do what’s called Team Depot projects, which is giving back to the community,” Kiefer said. “It’s a program that Home Depot does quarterly, where associates participate and we supply some materials and labor. It’s a community giving project.”
The HPR project was chosen by Home Depot among several community projects.
Parks and Rec Chosen for Assistance
“Usually, there are a number of organizations that apply for help, and myself and my management team will sit down and go through the requests to see which one will fit what we’re able to do for that particular quarter,” said Kiefer.
“This particular quarter, Parks and Rec was assisted.”
The Home Depot team helped with painting and constructing the new offices in the back of the building.
“We painted the entire inside, and we built three offices for them in the back, so that their facility could be much more functional than it was,” said Kiefer. “They had offices in the middle with two open spaces around them, and it just wasn’t functional to have the kids there. We spent a couple days over there the week of October 16.”
Other local businesses pitched in, including Paradise Lumber, and Boyson Inc., which donated the toilets and fixtures for the new restroom.
Paying Back Support
The Department of Public Works allowed HPR to store materials at its facility during the renovation, and firemen stationed at the Cruz Bay fire station helped cut metal for the project.
One local man helped out with the renovations in an effort to pay back the support he received from HPR.
"The Parks and Rec helped out the American Legion with our flag football league and allows us to use the parks,” said Paul Devine, American Legion Viggo E. Sewer Post 131 adjutant and Paul E. Devine Electrical Services owner. “They desperately needed help up there, and I said, ‘Okay, I have an electrical business, let’s see what I can do.’ I’ve got to give back what they gave.”
Devine volunteered his employee, Ian Germain, to do electrical work at the building.
“I work for Paul, and he told me the situation, and I’m here,” said Germain.
Terry Willock, who works across the street from the HPR building at the Julius E. Sprauve School, donated his time to the construction project.
“Anything that’s for the children’s sake is a blessing,” Willock said.
The project could not have been completed without the community’s help, said Jones.
“Thank God for the community,” she said. “This is Love City right here.”