Persons with mobility issues will soon have access to two trails on St. John thanks to V.I. National Park and Friends of VINP — as long as volunteers come forward to help.
Friends of VINP officials have been planning the Accessible Trails Project since a conference at Maho Bay Campground was hosted several years ago to discuss making St. John more accessible to people with
disabilities and mobility problems.
“This grew out of the ‘Building a Destination for All’ conference that took place out at Maho several years ago,” said Joe Kessler, Friends of VINP president. “That’s when we started talking about accessibility in the park. St. John is not a very accessible place.”
“The idea was, ‘how can we enhance that,’” said Kessler.
The group identified two trails which could be made more accessible and settled on the Cinnamon Bay Loop trial and the Francis Bay walking trail, explained Kessler.
Both of those areas are fairly level where some sort of flooring could be installed to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, Kessler added.
Thanks to a donation of lumber from MSI, support from Maho Bay Camps and designs from Rob Crane, the first phase of the project will kick off with the installation of a 700-foot boardwalk along the lower portion of the Francis Bay walking trail.
Construction will start on Wednesday, July 29, and Friends officials need volunteers to help with the installation, Kessler explained.
“Volunteers are urgently needed to assist with the construction,” he said. “Carpenters, people with general construction experience and building skills or anyone who would like to, we really need the help.”
The project is expected to take about a week or less depending on the number of volunteers who come out, Kessler added.
“We’d like to have as many people as can help,” he said. “The more help we get, the faster it will go.”
The next phase of the Accessible Trails Project will be at Cinnamon Bay Loop trail, where a permeable concrete walkway will be poured around the ruins to near the Danish grave site, according to Kessler.
“A boardwalk would be too out of keeping with the historic fabric of the area so we’ll install a permeable concrete that water can percolate through,” said the Friends president. “Park officials suggested using the concrete and we’ll probably put coloring in so it blends with the surroundings a bit more.”
Anyone willing to help install the boardwalk at the Francis Bay Walking trail should call Friends of VINP at 779-4940.