Beautification is the next step in the roundabout construction process.
Now that work is nearly completed at the Cruz Bay roundabout and the utility pole has been removed from the circle’s center, the St. John chapter of the St. Thomas/St. John Chamber of Commerce is looking into beautifying the center of the circle itself, along with the small planted area where the Texaco gas station used to be located.
St. John chamber members met recently with St. John Administrator Leona Smith, officials from the V.I. Police Department and the V.I. Department of Public Works, and architect Glen Speer, who will be working on the design.
The idea of planting the center circle was immediately discounted due to the need for large trucks to ramp up in the center in order to traverse the roundabout, and the necessity of clear visibility across the entire circle. Maintenance of plants was another issue, explained DPW Materials Program Manager Thomas Jones.
“It’s about visibility but it’s also about maintenance,” he said. “You’d have to maintain that on a weekly basis, and you don’t want something you constantly have to keep after.”
Chamber members suggested a compass rose design for the center circle, explained Chamber of Commerce St. John representative Kate Norfleet.
“One suggestion was that we put in the compass rose built out of stone, and I thought it might be cool to do really heavy glass bricks from Maho,” she said. “Glen’s proposal for the currently planted area involves shorter plants toward where the hillside meets the circle, with the possibility of shade trees further up the hill. There might also be a meandering walkway to the lower sidewalk, which would help keep pedestrians out of the center of the circle.”
Once Speer completes his designs and formulates a cost estimate, the Chamber will take over the responsibility of fundraising. A wine sip event has been suggested as a possible fundraiser for the project, along with the option for local businesses to “sponsor” sections of the area where the gas station was formerly located.
“One suggestion that came out was larger businesses can sponsor the walk around area, so maybe they’d have a seating area with their logo in stone, or something like that, to commemorate the businesses that have the wherewithal and the funds to do more significant donations,” said Norfleet.
Norfleet was hesitant to speculate on a cost or timeline for the project until final plans have been delivered.
DPW wholeheartedly supports the final beautification, according to DPW Materials Program Manager Thomas Jones.
“We haven’t gotten anything solid from them to approve, but the commissioner will probably approve it,” said Jones.
As for the roundabout construction, eight months after the contract was scheduled to close, the punch list is still being worked on. While all utilities were buried in the area, DPW is still waiting on Innovative to bury its cables from the Julius E. Sprauve School workshop annex to the new Fatty Crab restaurant.
“The conduit’s already in the ground, so that won’t stop us from moving forward,” said Jones. “It’s all on Innovative now.”
Another issue that has cropped up at the roundabout is people parking their vehicles in the center circle. Jones brought “no parking” signs over from St. Thomas last week, and DPW St. John Deputy Director Ira Wade was expected to have them installed within a few days.
“We’ll put the signs in the middle, and the white hash mark that currently goes around the circle will be painted yellow,” said Jones. “Once you cross that yellow line to park, police can give you a ticket.”
Cars parking in the center of the roundabout disrupt drivers’ visibility, Jones added.