Several years after discussions to renovate the Frank Powell Park in Cruz Bay began, Department of Public Works St. John Deputy Director Ira Wade is optimistic the renovations will be completed by the end of 2007.
The renovations will be based on drawings by local architect Doug White, who collaborated in 2002 with community group Cruz Bay Revitalization Project. St. John Tradewinds previously reported the design was by St. Thomas architect William Karr based on incorrect information.
Officials from DPW and the Department of Property and Procurement last week met with St. John Administrator Leona Smith and the project’s contractor, who Wade declined to name.
“The administrator invited a representative from Property and Procurement so we could discuss the legal status of trying to enter into a public/private partnership for the renovation project,” said Wade. “We discussed the materials that will be needed, who will order them and where and how they will be stored. There were some issues that came up that we’ll need to get a legal review on.”
Wade hopes to ensure the rights of everyone involved are protected, and wants to avoid being tied to any corruption, which has plagued the V.I. government in recent years.
“We don’t want to enter into any agreement without making sure the rights of the contractors and the rights of the government are protected,” said Wade. “You read in the paper every day about all these government atrocities, and we don’t want to be associated with that. We want to do it right the first time.”
Funding Shortfall Will Not Stop Renovations
It was determined at the meeting that more funding will be needed for the park renovations, but that won’t stop the project from moving forward, explained Wade.
“That will not impact on our quest to go ahead and get the project started,” he said. “We feel that with proper management, we could undertake the project with what we have now — we can renovate the park and make it better. With a few dollars more, we could come up with a better product.”
Wade is now waiting on a legal opinion from Property and Procurement regarding the public/private partnership which will undertake the project before meeting again with those involved with the renovations. The DPW St. John deputy director remains optimistic the project will be completed soon.
“We want to have it done this year,” he said. “I just think we never really pushed it hard enough. I think now we’re going to get it done.”
The renovations include bringing the park’s ground up to one level, installing wrought iron benches and replacing the current kiosk with a “master information board,” according to Wade.
“The benches will give an old rustic antique look, and the master information board will give people information about exactly what direction to travel depending on where they want to go,” said Wade.
The landscaping will change, but the mature trees will remain in place.
ADA To Be Addressed
“No one would ever think about touching the mahogany trees — those will not move,” said Wade.
A sidewalk will be constructed from Connections straight through the park to help pedestrians avoid walking in the street, and the Americans With Disabilities Act will also be addressed.
“We are going to install a ramp at the bandstand, so anyone who can’t climb the stairs will have access,” said Wade.
Members of the Cruz Bay Revilatization Project, a group which has since disbanded, remain hopeful the renovations to the park will be completed, explained White.
“Our group got together for the purpose of the park, and we are still hopeful the park will be successful,” said White.