Despite Governor John deJongh’s campaign promise to hire a city planner for Love City by the first quarter of this year, the position is still not filled and there has been no word from Government House regarding the matter.
“The governor, in his campaign speeches, said that he wants a planner, but I’m not sure how far we are from getting one on board,” said St. John Administrator Leona Smith.
The lack of action, however, does not diminish the need for such a planner, according to Smith.
“The city planner is something that we need on St. John to give us an idea of where we should go in terms of the infrastructure plans which are pending,” said Smith. “For instance the governor doesn’t want the parking garage to be located by Nature’s, so therefore we have to be looking at a different spot. A city planner could look at the over-all picture and plan the entire Cruz Bay area.”
“Parking garages are on hold until we get a planner to look at these situations,” added Smith.
A number of long-discussed plans must be implemented to get a handle on the island’s infrastructure problems, Smith explained.
“We need to have the relocation of the Cruz Bay school and the multipurpose center and we must deal with the round-about by Texaco,” said Smith. “We also need to build the Police Department sub station in Coral Bay.”
“We have the funds for the project but we must finalize the permits and a planner could help with that,” she added.
The planner position, for which the 26th Legislature appropriated funds last year, is needed now more than ever, according to Sharon Coldren, president of the Coral Bay Community Council.
“Desperate” for Planning
“St. John is desperate for infrastructure planning right now related to all of the building permits that have been issued for major developments and their desire to make them larger,” said Coldren. “This is a different kind of planning and requires different skills than are required for a new zoning scheme or a comprehensive long range land and water use plan.”
Having a planner in place soon would help organize the infrastructure needs in Coral Bay before more development exacerbates existing problems, explained Coldren.
“Before allowing any major developments in Coral Bay, we need to have some understanding about what the realities are about the lack of any water and sewer and infrastructure here in Coral Bay,” Coldren said.
“The planner will be a plus for the whole island,” said Smith. “Planning is needed in Coral Bay before it gets built up.”
Study of Utilities Needed
As large scale developments continue to spring up around the Cruz Bay area — from Grande Bay and Sirenusa to the planned Pond Bay Club — it’s time to take stock of basic utilities, according to Coldren.
“Someone needs to do a detailed study of water, sewer, electric, telephone and the capacity and investment needs here on the island and it needs to be done independent of those various utilities,” said the Coral Bay Community Council president.
While some residents have speculated the position should be filled with a representative from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, others wondered if the position would even be a full-time job. One thing everyone seems to agree on, however, is the need to fill the position.
Must Look To Future
“The position could be part-time or on a need basis,” said Smith. “But the person we select must begin the process of making our community futuristic-possible and tackle the pressing infrastructure needs.”
“The person needs to be a watchdog here,” said Coldren. “They need to have the rights of an enforcement officer and be able to walk on peoples’ land and say, ‘stop.’”
DeJongh’s spokesperson John Greaux did not return repeated calls from St. John Tradewinds requesting information regarding filling the promised city planner position.