WAPA crew members cleared a small site adjacent to the Mamey Peak neighborhood and brought in heavy equipment to lift the three sections of a hollow communications tower into place on April 16.
MAMEY PEAK — Retired three-term V.I. Senator at Large Craig W. Barshinger may not see nor appreciate the humor or the irony in his current bugbear, but his latest brush with the V.I. Water and Power Authority has equal doses of both.
Cradling his week-old daughter Caire Urbi Barshinger, the former senator was calling any V.I. official he could as he waited for the police to show up (of course St. John Tradewinds got there first) with a cell phone in one hand and Claire sound asleep in the crook of his free arm.
A frantic call from private citizen Barshinger to St. John Tradewinds on Thursday, April 16, showed just how far the mighty can fall — a retired politician was calling the newspaper for help in dealing with government bureaucracy.
“The police came up and they were able to do nothing,” Barshinger reported.
WAPA Gets Job Done
The WAPA crewmembers, meanwhile, were conducting themselves professionally in the heat of the day — nonchalantly easing giant sections of the pole/tower top the ground on the cleared site in preparation for fitting the three tapered pieces of the hollow fiberglass “pole” together.
It seems that WAPA was installing a three-section “100-foot pole” on property adjacent to Barshinger’s aerie of 30 years on the top of Mamey Peak — which the retired V.I. senator says is part of National Park Service property extending to the North Shore of St. John.
And, the “pole” actually was a hollow communication antenna, according to Barshinger, who charged the antenna was being assembled and erected by WAPA without a required building permit.
“WAPA was trying to do this without a permit by calling it a utility pole,” Barshinger explained. “It is a tower in a mono-pole.”
“It is not a utility pole, it has transmission function,” he elaborated. The hollow fiberglass “tower” gathers WIFI radio signals for WAPA’s own electronic metering, according to Barshinger.
After the hollow pole is assembled it is filled to the density of concrete, the former Senator at Large explained.
House in “Fall Zone”
Public citizen Barshinger expressed his concern about the hazard of this towering tube falling on his former bachelor pad across the narrow dirt neighborhood road — especially since the renowned island bachelor politician is now a proud papa just settling into fatherhood with partner and political-acolyte-turned-aspirant Jody Hodge less than 100-feet away in Barshinger’s simple wood-frame home overlooking Carolina Valley.
“This thing would make an earthquake if it fell,” Barshinger said. “The law is clear, when you have a tower you must have a ‘fall area.’”
“They are trying to use the national park property, the roadway and my property as the ‘fall area,’” the new father explained.
“They have been ordered to stop the tower installation,” Barshinger reported on Friday. April 17. “DPNR told them to stop.”
There remains a question about whether the tower will have support wires, according to Barshinger, who said the NPS officials have said they were told there would be no support wires on park property.
Ironically, Barshinger is renowned for his contentious history with WAPA in a battle of wills which actually led the future senator to become a forerunner in solar power on St. John after an infamous dispute with WAPA over utility service in his isolated neighborhood in the center of the island.
Which brings to mind a favorite island expression, “Time is longer than twine.”