The Pine Peace basketball court remains in disrepair after being flooded by a Water And Power Authority water main line break several months ago and at least one resident is sick of the situation.
With only limited working lights and no restroom facilities at the basketball court, the government is failing the children of St. John, according to long-time resident Steve Black.
“We have created a terrible situation for our kids,” said Black. “We have a drop-out rate of over 50 percent and we have violence and crime and very little athletic activities. It’s time to do something for these kids.”
“Although I don’t have children myself, we should all care about the children more or what we’ll be looking at is that these kids will turn to a life of crime and the thugs will be their new teachers,” Black continued. “We need to clean up our neighborhoods and show the kids that we care.”
Months have gone by since the original flooding problem in the Pine Peace area and the site hasn’t even been cleared, according to Black.
No Clean Up and No Remedy
“If they wanted to eliminate the flooding they could just put in a French drain,” said Black. “I was over there looking and they haven’t done anything. Pine Peace is exactly the way it was when it was flooded several months ago. They haven’t cleaned it out at all.”
Not only have government officials made empty promises, but several courts in St. Thomas are in far better condition than the sole public court on St. John, Black added.
“It’s amazing how clean and how beautiful basketball courts on St. Thomas are,” he said. “Over here we have one basketball court and the last resurfacing was done by a private person, not the government. I have written to (St. John Administrator) Leona (Smith), (Senator at Large) Carmen (Wesselhoft) and (Governor) John deJongh, but haven’t gotten any reply.”
Although Black may not have gotten a response, Acting Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner St. Claire Williams is looking into renovating the area, explained Smith.
“The acting commissioner is doing a study on the Pine Peace court,” said the administrator. “They were supposed to be doing a study and looking into raising the level of the court and other ways to avoid flooding in the area. I also asked that HPR place a portable rest room over there.”
Smith agreed the children are being short changed.
“I definitely think the children need somewhere to go and we’re going to be working on this,” said the administrator.
Commissioner Promises Action
While renovations for the basketball court are planned for the future, right now the project is in the preliminary stage, according to HPR Acting Commissioner Williams.
“We have been discussing the Pine Peace project since it was brought to my attention but nothing definitive is in place at this time,” Williams said. “An assessment will be done to look at ways we can avoid the situation with the flooding in the future.”
In addition to the Pine Peace basketball court, HPR will take a look at all of its facilities on Love City, added Williams.
“Although it is just preliminary at this time, we do want to deal with those recreation facilities over there on St. John for sure,” said the acting commissioner. “We do need to look at St. John and we will be doing that.”
Lack of Action Is Insulting
For the sake of St. John youth, Black promises to hold Williams to his word.
“I am just appalled that there is just one basketball court on St. John and the state it is in is an absolute insult,” said Black. “The government promised months ago that they were going to jump on this and they haven’t. We’re talking about pennies in the big scheme of things compared to the cost of incarcerating children and putting them through the corrections system.”