Most of the walking surfaces in Frank Powell Park, above, are being ripped out and replaced with variegated tile.
The latest voice to question the Frank Powell Park renovations arose last week from the V.I. Legislature Hall.
After being contacted by several constituents, Senator at Large Craig Barshinger viewed the planned changes to the highly-visible Cruz Bay park, which has been surrounded by a tall beige fence since renovations began in February.
“I have heard several constituents complain about the park,” he said. “People are not happy with all sorts of aspects of it. As I heard more and more complaints, I became more and more concerned.”
The loudest complaint regarded the timing of the project, Barshinger explained.
“The timing was inane,” he said. “Starting the renovations when they did knocked the Arts Festival out of the park. It’s like shooting yourself in the foot.”
“It’s the kind of situation where some nice benefactor creates a nice event and we make it hard for him to do,” said the senator. “Why would someone come and do something nice if we are abusive to him.”
Other complaints Barshinger heard centered around the lockout of food vendor Sheila Liburd of Sheila’s Pot and the six-month time frame of the project, he explained.
To find out more about the project, and what would take six months to complete, Barshinger viewed diagrams of the renovations at St. John Administrator Leona Smith’s office. The senator was not impressed, he explained.
“I went over there and looked at the diagrams,” said Barshinger. “The things they are doing are not structural and are really just paving. The fact that they want six months for this is not appropriate.”
“We want it to be done correctly, yes, but why do you close the park in the middle of high season and why do you need six months for this,” said the senator at large.
The project, overseen by Department of Public Works, was awarded to Apex Construction to the tune of $200,000, and work got underway in early February. Renovations are scheduled to wrap up in mid-June and until then it seems that the Cruz Bay waterfront sidewalk will remain behind the tall beige fence currently in place.
The diagrams which Barshinger viewed did not include an artist’s rendering of what the prominent park will look like once renovations are complete, he explained.
“It’s just engineering stuff there and it shows that they are basically changing very little,” said the senator. “I did my best to read the diagrams and it seems that all of the walking surfaces will be redone. They are putting in variegated pavers over sand.”
“They are very careful to specify every aspect of the technique to put the pavers over sand and put sand between the pavers,” said Barshinger. “But there is not going to be a lot different in the park. They are not using space in a new way or restructuring the area.”
The plans were reportedly created years ago by a committee, which has since disbanded.
“A committee recommended many of these changes 10 years ago and that committee has since disbanded,” said Barshinger. “I tried to call a phone number listed on the drawings and the number was out of order. Who decided all this stuff?”
“There are a lot of questions about this project,” he said.