VIPA Delays Re-Opening of Gravel Lot Near Cruz Bay

Abandoned cars such as this were removed from the lot last summer. (Source file photo by Amy Roberts)
Abandoned cars such as this were removed from the lot last summer. (Source file photo by Amy Roberts)

The Virgin Islands Port Authority has delayed the re-opening of the gravel parking lot near Cruz Bay until December while it considers an expansion to include approximately 1,200 feet of adjacent undeveloped property.

The lot, which accommodated about 180 vehicles, was closed last August for an upgrade in preparation for its conversion to a paid parking facility.

“Initially we closed the lot to rebuild the fencing, replace the gravel, get the old derelict cars out and repair the lighting,” said Monifa Marrero-Brathwaite, public information officer for the port authority. “But there’s a portion of land right behind the existing lot that could expanded. We don’t have an estimated number of spaces [for the expansion.] The land has to be cleared and graded.”

The Department of Homeland Security required new fencing to secure the nearby Theovald E. Moorehead Marine Terminal, where barge service is based. Marrero-Brathwaite said the fencing installed in recent weeks was positioned to include the potential area for expansion and will not have to be moved.

Before the lot can reopen, contractors will have to install concrete areas to support structures including an attendant’s booth and pay-station equipment.

Marrero-Brathwaite said Paris Dump Truck is performing the parking lot expansion and improvements, including the cleaning, fencing, gravel and grading; Charles Electric will install the parking lot lighting; and Inter-Caribbean Multi-Service, Corp will provide the parking equipment.

Piles of gravel wait on the lot, ready to be spread for parking. (Source photo by Amy Roberts)
Piles of gravel wait on the lot, ready to be spread for parking. (Source photo by Amy Roberts)

“There is no final cost for the project yet, pending the cost of the parking lot equipment that will be installed,” she said.

VIPA did not pin down an exact date for the lot’s re-opening.

“We’re shooting for early December,” she said.

Marrero-Brathwaite asked the public to be patient while the lot is closed as a safety precaution during ongoing work.

“We know it is an inconvenience,” she said. “There will be heavy equipment moving throughout the lot while the expansion and improvements are being performed. The safety precautions will protect pedestrians and vehicles from being injured or damaged. Vehicles parked in the lot would also hamper the contractors’ progress and delay the reopening of the lot.”

VIPA officials have not yet determined rates for the new parking facility. The agency will hold a public hearing on St. John before any rates are implemented.

Hearing scheduled for Red Hook parking facility

“Public hearings for parking lots are mandated,” Marrero-Brathwaite said. “In fact, we’re holding a public hearing to discuss public parking in Red Hook – monthly rates, rules and regulations, and long-term parking for agencies.”

The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 31. Since that is also Halloween, VIPA invited members of the public to call in on a conference line rather than attend in person. Details will be available on VIPA’s Facebook page.

Parking at Customs Lot in Cruz Bay still limited

The parking area across from the post office in Cruz Bay is still limited while the contractor, Lemartec USVI, continues construction of the new, $1.8 million facility being built for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The old facility was destroyed by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

Marrero-Brathwaite said the building is now 40 percent complete, and the port authority expects their part of the work will be completed by mid-January 2020. She did not have a timeline for the completion of the interior of the building or the reopening of the lot.