Citing the need for revenue to fund capital projects, the head of the Port Authority told a recent gathering why he thinks parking fees at the newly opened Red Hook facility must increase. But that proposal by Director Carlton Dowe was met with resistance.
Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach was among those casting a wary eye over a new fee schedule unveiled last week. Roach was one of the two dozen people attending a meeting on Port Authority initiative held Thursday, Nov. 7, on the campus of the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.
The new double-decker parking garage with 170 available spaces opened July 22. Motorists using the space pay between $2 for a stay between 16 minutes to an hour, and up to $10 to park between four hours to a full day.
Under a revised fee schedule, day-long parking would be $15. The minimum rate — 16 minutes to an hour, would go to $4. The monthly parking fee would increase from $150 to $175. The fee for lost tickets would leap from $10 to $25.
The Port Authority parking plan at Red Hook would also allot six spaces for use by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the $150 monthly rate, with no increase. Terminal tenants, renting commercial space in the Urman Fredericks Marine Terminal, will be allowed to park at a negotiated rate.
No reserved parking spaces would be allowed under the proposal. Motorists who can grab a space for a quick stop and go have up to 15 minutes to park for free.
The plan did not sit well with terminal tenants. One tenant, Derek Callwood, said the arrangement is already frustrating for him, trying to stop by and check on his business but not being able to park.
“Then, I have to go over into a next person’s parking lot, and that shouldn’t be,” he said. “Two dollars a day, $28 a month, I could pay that for allotted space. A sign saying, ‘Parking for Net View,’ and paying because I’m already paying every day. I would at least like to have a parking space.”
Dowe said he’d think about it.
First responders – police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians commuting by ferry from Red Hook to Cruz Bay, St. John – said they also need more consideration from the Port Authority.
The lieutenant governor’s solution was the simplest of all. No increase for now. After the meeting, Roach said it’s unfair to the public to increase the rates so soon after the double decker garage opened. He said give the public a chance to enjoy the new facility before increasing the fees.
Dowe told those attending the Thursday meeting the Port Authority needs extra money to build a new Customs office at Red Hook. The proposed site – the old Red Hook dock known as Shark Wharf – is currently used as a refueling station for passenger ferries.
“That thing’s falling off in the water. To get the permits to go into the water, it’s not two cents. The Port Authority’s going to spend approximately $6 million between the building and reconstructing a dock,” Dowe said.
Most of the passengers using the Customs facility are traveling on to the British Virgin Islands. Those BVI passengers are important to the USVI, he said.
But as the Thursday meeting wound down the director said he would consider all requests, meet with the Port Authority staff and come up with a determination.