A bike trail through the V.I. National Park and safety concerns at Calabash Boom topped the list of concerns St. John residents told V.I. Police Department Commissioner Novelle Francis on Tuesday, February 23.
Francis met with St. John residents in Cruz Bay at the VIPD’s Leander Jurgen Command between 9 a.m. and noon and then traveled to Coral Bay, where the territory’s top police brass met with citizens at the Coral Bay Community Council’s office until 3 p.m.
Love City residents took full advantage of the chance to have Francis’ ear, keeping him busy all day, according to VIPD spokesperson Melody Rames.
“There were probably about 11 residents who met with the commissioner, five in the morning and six in the afternoon,” said Rames. “Each meeting was between a half an hour and 15 minutes.”
Francis enjoyed his time on St. John and deemed the day a success.
“My day was very productive,” said Francis. “We spent all morning and afternoon with the citizens of St. John, exchanging ideas and addressing concerns.”
Establishing a bike path across the island — and through the V.I. National Park — was brought up by residents in Cruz Bay, explained Rames.
“We’ll start talking with the National Park about that to see how the police can help make that a reality,” Rames said.
Many Coral Bay residents expressed concern over children who live in the recently-built affordable housing community of Calabash Boom playing and riding their bikes on Route 107, according to Francis.
“I heard over and over again the situation that is occurring over at Calabash Boom where we have young kids riding their bikes in the street and into traffic,” said the VIPD Commissioner. “There are some serious safety concerns for the kids out there. That was a predominant theme while speaking with people in Coral Bay.”
“We’ll be working with the Coral Bay Community Council to see how we can address that problem,” Francis said.
In addition to concerns, Francis also got an earful of compliments from St. John residents, he added.
“We definitely heard positive feedback as well,” said the commissioner. “There were indications that people had seen improvement in terms of police community relations. We felt good about that.”
“While still thinking that we have a long way to go, people indicated that we have taken steps in the right direction,” said Francis.
The VIPD Commissioner, who meets regularly with residents on St. Croix and St. Thomas, vowed to make Love City trips a more common occurrence.
“People can regularly get appointments on St. Croix and St. Thomas and to expand our reach to citizens by the police department, we’re going to try to do this at least once a month,” said Francis. “I enjoy having these types of open discussions about any issue people want to share.”
The day is no easy task for the mostly St. Croix-based commissioner. Francis and his support staff caught a 6:40 a.m. seaplane flight from the big island in order to able to make the 8 a.m. ferry from St. Thomas, explained Rames.
Francis met with residents all day until about 3:15 p.m., when he and his support staff rushed to catch the 4 p.m. ferry in order to make a late afternoon flight back to St. Croix.
The commissioner’s day on St. John, luckily, wasn’t all work. Between his Cruz Bay and Coral Bay meetings, Francis was able to enjoy one of the famous juicy hamburgers at St. John landmark Skinny Legs.
“We did take a half hour for lunch at Skinny Legs, which we really enjoyed,” said Rames.