Visitors and residents with mobility issues will soon be able to get an up-close look at the Cinnamon Bay estate ruins thanks to an exciting project funded by Friends of V.I. National Park.
Seeds for the Cinnamon Bay Accessible Trail were actually planted about five years ago when a group of accessibility specialists hosted a conference at Maho Bay Campground. The group looked at areas of Love City which could be relatively easily made more accessible for people with mobility problems.
Rosanne Ramos Lloyd, principal of Inclusive By Design, was part of that conference five years ago. Since then, Lloyd has made St. John her home and is lending her expertise to Friends’ accessibility projects.
Last year Friends of VINP oversaw construction of the Francis Bay Walking Trail boardwalk, opening the area to people who would not otherwise be able to watch the prime bird viewing pond. While Friends officials plan to expand that boardwalk even further, they are focusing now on the Cinnamon Bay Accessible Trail.
Lloyd designed plans for the trail, which starts across the street from the Cinnamon Bay Campground parking area. The roughly 550-foot trail winds around the Cinnamon Bay estate ruins to the beginning of the loop trail in the rear of the area.
“It’s really great that the trail goes all the way to back of the site here,” said Lloyd. “People won’t be just off the street, but you really get a different feel way in the back of the ruins under the trees.
The project calls for installing a walkway which will be composed of both concrete and wood. Friends contracted out the concrete portion of the project, which was expected to wrap up this week.
Officials are hoping to recruit volunteers to install the boardwalk portion of the walkway the week of October 18, according to Friends executive director Joe Kessler.
“We’re looking for volunteers and especially volunteers who are skilled woodworkers, carpenters or boat builders as well as folks who just want to help out,” said Kessler. “At Francis Bay we got a great group of people who came out. The quality of the boardwalk is an indication of the quality of people who worked on the project.”
“We hope to replicate that here at the Cinnamon Bay trail,” Kessler said. “If we get enough volunteers the project could be finished that week.”
The new St. John accessible trail comes as citizens across the country celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and officials hope the Cinnamon Bay Ruins trail will be another step toward making St. John a more inclusive destination, explained Kessler.
“Friends is really interested in helping the VINP become more accessible for all individuals,” said the Friends of VINP executive director. “Not a lot of handicapped people come to St. John because of their mobility problems and the limited areas they can visit.”
The Francis Bay walkway was the first major project to address that issue and the Cinnamon Bay trail is another step in the right direction, according to Lloyd.
“During the conference five years ago we talked about the number of people with mobility issues who travel and aren’t coming here because there aren’t many accessible areas,” said Lloyd. “That market has only grown.”
MSI and Diageo USVI are major sponsors of the project and Diageo will host a ribbon-cutting trail opening and reception for the project on Saturday, November 13.
For more information about the Cinnamon Bay Accessible Trail or to volunteer for the project, call Kessler at Friends at 779-4940.