The Frank Powell Park will be closed over the next few months for renovations.
Say goodbye to the Franklin Powell Park for the next few months.
Renovations to the park began on Monday, February 7, and will wrap up sometime in June. The date of the renovations will force the 11th Annual St. John Arts Festival to find a new home in the V.I. National Park ball field, when it kicks off February 18.
The work will be done in a “manner that minimizes disruptions” to the popular businesses which line the park, JJ’s Texas Coast Cafe, Coral Bay Jewelers and Sparky’s, according to a statement from Government House.
“The work will start Monday, February 7, and is scheduled for completion by the middle of June,” according to the statement. “During that time, the park will be closed to the public, but provisions will be made to avoid disrupting the public’s access to nearby businesses.”
“This work will be undertaken in a manner that minimizes disruptions for the businesses that surround the park and the neighboring community,” Department of Public Works Commissioner Smalls said in the prepared statement. “We have discussed these objectives with the contractor, and are confident they understand and will be responsive.”
Smalls did not return repeated phone calls from St. John Tradewinds requesting additional information and renderings of the renovations for the Cruz Bay park.
Apex Construction will be doing the work, which is expected to include installation of an underground electrical system for new lighting and new paving and landscaping. The project will cost $336,792 and should be completed by June 14, according to St. John Administrator Leona Smith.
While plans to renovate the park have been discussed for years, the news of the impending work did not reach St. John Arts Festival Founder Frank Langley’s ears until the end of January, almost a month after he obtained a permit, booked bands, printed booklets and updated the website www.stjohnartsfestival.org.
Langley also questioned the need to cordon off the park — which is usually the first thing tourists see when entering Cruz Bay — at the height of busy season.
“Beyond my festival being changed to a new location, this impacts tourism,” said Langley. “Nothing worse could be imagined than for visitors arriving from the ferry to be greeted with a construction gang with jackhammers digging up the only green spot left in Cruz Bay.”
Despite his disappointment, Langley is optimistic that the festival will be a success at its new home in the VINP ball field, he added.
“The show must go on,” said the festival founder. “Given the cooperation of Leona Smith and (DPW St. John Deputy Directory) Ira Wade, we’ll be able to reconstruct our own little park in the big ball field. Ira Wade will be erecting a bandstand for the 40-piece 73rd Army Band which will perform on February 19 starting at 12:30 p.m.”
The St. John Arts Festival will continue on Sunday, February 20, with a gospel concert at the ball field and the Caribbean Ritual Dancers performing that night at the Westin Resort and Villas.
For a full schedule of events for the festival, check out www.stjohnartsfestival.org.
In the prepared statement from Government House, Smalls apologized for the expected disruptions caused by the almost five months of renovations.
“We apologize for the imposition that will be caused by this beautification project that is long over-due and sorely needed to recapture the park’s charm and its importance as a central focal point,” Smalls said in the statement.