Cruz Bay’s Texaco gas station reopened Thursday, September 14, after St. John residents faced a tense two weeks following the closure of the Texaco and the impending temporary closure of the E&C gas station in Pine Peace during the peak of hurricane season.
An agreement was reached between Chevron, Texxaco Caribbean Inc’s parent company, the V.I. government and Texaco retailer Robert O’Connor Jr., said Chevron spokesperson Isabelle Guerin, who did not know the specifics of the agreement.
The reason for the closure of the gas station remains unclear as government officials and Chevron pointed fingers at each other.
No Right To Evict
Although condemnation ac-tions have begun on the site of the Texaco station, which is being claimed by the government through eminent domain for the construction of a roundabout, the government does not yet have the right to evict the gas station, according to Department of Public Works Deputy Director Ira Wade.
“The condemnation is not complete, and we still don’t have a right to evict the station,” Wade told concerned St. John residents at an emergency town hall meeting on Thursday, September 7. “At no time have I seen a document ordering the Texaco to quit the premises.”
The government will not require the gas station to close until it is ready to begin construction on the roundabout in June 2007, according to Wade.
“We sent a formal letter to Chevron asking them to reopen the tanks at least until June of next year,” Wade said at the September 7 meeting. “Con-struction will not begin until June 2007.”
Government Told Texaco To Close
Texaco was told to close by September 30, said Guerin in a direct contradiction to Wade’s statements.
“We were asked to close the station and were given a date of September 30,” said Guerin. “On the third of September, we closed so we had ample time to remove our tanks.”
Once the station closed, the government contacted Chevron and asked them to reopen the Texaco, according to Guerin.
“Once we closed on the third in order to have ample time to remove all of our assets from the property, the government came back to us and asked us to stay open,” she said. “We agreed, and they told us the closure deadline would be extended until June 30, 2007.”
Chevron was in the midst of working out a month-to-month agreement, said Guerin on Tuesday, September 12.
“Right now, we are trying to finalize all the negotiations,” she said. “We are trying to work out a month-to-month agreement with the retailer. We are focusing on trying to get the station reopened, to get product to consumers in the area — that is our priority.”
Although the reason for the closure of the Texaco station is unclear, Wade, who was providing gasoline for emergency government vehicles at the Susannaberg transfer station in the wake of Texaco’s closing, was happy to see the station reopen, he said.
“I just got a call a few minutes ago from the station saying they’ve reopened for business,” he said on Thursday afternoon, September 14. “I am out of the gas station business for a while.”
The E&C gas station still plans to close in the near future for some maintenance work, according to station owner Myrtle Barry.
Public Will Be Notified Of Closure
“We will be replacing the tanks and all the pump equipment,” she said. “We are upgrading. We hope to notify the newspapers and everyone of when we will be closing.”
The dates the station will close are still up in the air, according to Barry.
“The dates have not been firmed yet,” she said. “It’s in the hands of the attorneys. The upgrades will take about eight weeks — if we have eight weeks of excellent weather.”
Fuel will not be sold during those eight weeks. However, the station will continue to service cars as long as they have the space, said Barry.
“We won’t be selling any fuel, because we are replacing the tanks and all the pump equipment,” she said. “We will be repairing tires and fixing cars for as long as we can. When the time comes that we have to discontinue that work because of the progress, we will stop servicing cars.”