Less than two months into her tenure as St. John Administrator, Leona Smith has picked up the ball on the long-troubled efforts to renovate the Frank Powell Sr. Park.
Smith’s commitment to spruce up the Cruz Bay park was evident last week, as the planter closest to the ferry dock encircling benches and the Freedom Monument was filled with gravel donated by local developer Eric Tillett, beautifying the previously dirt-filled area.
“We just put some gravel in that area today because of the eyesore there,” said Smith on Thursday afternoon, February 22.
The renovations stalled several times during previous St. John Administrator Julien Harley’s time in office.
Problems cited by Harley started with rain in November 2005 and included delays with the original contractor, Best Con-struction, who was eventually removed from the project; permitting issues, and working around tourist season and St. John Festival.
Details Not Worked Out
Smith hopes to start construction in July after the carnival festivities, although many of the renovation details have not yet been worked out.
“We are not too sure if we are going to use the original plans for the renovations,” said Smith of the St. Thomas-based architect William Karr design. “We have to go over the plans and look at them.”
Near the end of Harley’s eight-year tenure as St. John administrator, Carlson Construction came forward to help with the renovations, according to the former administrator.
A contractor has not yet been chosen for the renovation project, explained Smith.
“We haven’t sat down yet to discuss that,” she said. “We have to iron out some details.”
In the meantime, the park will be beautified in simple ways, according to Smith.
“Right now, we will try to do what we can do in regards to keeping it beautiful,” said the administrator. “It’s very unsightly. It’s the first thing you see when you come off the ferry boat, so we really need to work on it.”
Smith also hopes to hire someone to maintain the appearance of the park, she explained.
“We need to hire someone from the Housing, Parks and Recreation Department for maintenance and landscaping,” said Smith.
Renovations are scheduled to take place in July, when the park will be closed for approximately four months, according to Smith.
“We can’t do any kind of big-time renovations until after the fourth of July,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense. The park will be closed July through November.”