ST. THOMAS — While leading the V.I. Port Authority to unprecedented expansion, VIPA Executive Director and former Senator Carlton Dowe has apparently met his management match in the Cruz Bay Taxi Stand at the Loredon L. Boynes Sr. Ferry Terminal.
VIPA officials will no longer exercise authority over the St. John taxi medallion holders at the waterfront spaces allocated to taxis, Dowe announced unilaterally on August 11. Government oversight of the taxi stand was handed over to the Department of Property and Procurement, according to a VIPA release.
The move ends a two-year period in which the Port Authority arbitrarily had claimed control of the concession operated by the St. John Taxi Association – and the coveted waterfront parking spaces overlooking Cruz Bay Beach.
The parking spaces belong to the central government, but Dowe said his agency never received a deed for the spaces and was not interested in managing the property or any activity around the property without a deed, according to VIPA public relations officer Monife Braithwaite.
(Official signage marking several waterfront spaces near the Battery for exclusive use by villa rental companies also was removed without public comment in mid-summer.)
“Dowe said the Port Authority never signed any official lease or deed for the property, nor does VIPA have any interest in managing the concession without such any longer,” a Property and Procurement official acknowledged.
Control of the waterfront taxi stand changed hands in 2013 after it was alleged that taxi drivers operating near the Loredon L. Boynes Sr. Ferry Terminal were paying dues to an association operating the taxi stand but association leadership could not account for the revenues collected.
For several months Dowe urged members of the VIPA Governing Board to put the taxi franchise out for bid, but that step was never accomplished, Dowe said in a Port Authority statement issued Aug. 10.
Several taxi medallion holders attempted to organize an association in recent months, but the effort has been unsuccessful, according to one senior taxi man.
Property and Procurement also has been at odds with the association, whose members park their vehicles in spaces adjacent to the ferry dock which are under the control of that agency. In 2011, under former Commissioner Lynn Millin-Maduro, the agency attempted to evict the St. John Taxi Association.
That attempt was also unsuccessful.