After the ground is stabilized to hold vehicle loads, Enighed Pond Marine Facility, above, will boast 151 parking spaces.
Relief is on the horizon for the island’s years-long parking and congestion woes.
The contractor, Wharton-Smith, started work on the Enighed Pond Marine Facility parking area last week. The project, contracted out for about $900,000, is expected to take around 90 days and will bring 151 much-needed parking spaces to the Cruz Bay area.
The land is owned by V.I. Port Authority, which collaborated with the Department of Public Works on the project, explained Robert deJongh, president of the deJongh Group Architects and Planners.
DeJongh had been working with VIPA to devise a plan for the Cruz Bay Creek area, when the need for additional public parking became obvious, explained deJongh.
“The parking lot project came as an outgrowth of the planning work we were doing for the Creek project for VIPA,” said deJongh. “It became pretty obvious that whatever was going to be done with the Creek area, it would require that a large portion of it, at least for some time, be off limits to public parking. That required us to look for interim parking somewhere in the Cruz Bay area.”
With the Cruz Bay Creek plans currently on hold, VIPA and deJongh officials shifted their attention to the Enighed Pond Marine Facility.
“It became apparent that the Creek project was going to require a certain amount of discussion and collaboration and work with various parts of the community and that it was likely to take some time to have a thought-through prototype that was effectively conceived,” said deJongh. “So we started looking at the opportunity to provide this interim parking. That portion of the Enighed Pond area was an obviously unused portion of Cruz Bay, so we started looking at that.”
The biggest problem presented by the Enighed Pond parking area plan was the makeup of the lot, which consists of dredged material from the pond, explained deJongh.
“The objections that came about early were that the area wasn’t structurally stable,” he said. “So we set about trying to find ways we could utilize it. We decided it was best to use only the fringe of the parking area, which had the shallowest depth to fill.”
“We then devised ways to make it more structurally stable, not for construction loads, but for normal vehicle loads,” said the architect.
In order to make the soft fill material stable enough to handle vehicle loads, contractors will first move the berm from its current location back by 80 feet, removing the soft material underneath the berm to a certain depth and then installing a geo-textile fabric, according to deJongh.
“The geo-textile material includes a geo-grid which will be installed in order to harden the soft fill there,” he said. “Then the final paving will be installed and that will comprise the parking lot.”
VIPA, DPW, the public and legislators have collaborated to bring the long-awaited project to fruition, deJongh added.
“By working with the contractor, VIPA and the St. John committee that was organized with VIPA and included Leona Smith, we were able to get the support for doing this project,” said deJongh. “Also the governor was able to involve the legislature in getting the funds and I know that Senator Craig Barshinger was very involved with that.”
“It’s a project that is the product of a great deal of widespread cooperation from VIPA, the executive director and board of directors, DPW, the governor and the legislature,” deJongh said.
The roughly $900,000 project is being paid for from a bond issue that was passed by the legislature this past year, deJongh explained.
Once complete, the free public parking lot will accommodate 151 vehicles, be illuminated by solar LED lights and most likely be under the jurisdiction of DPW, according to deJongh.
“I am certain that Public Works and VIPA will have some involvement in operating the lot,” he said. “It is VIPA’s land, however, the Port Authority is not in involved in the role of operating parking facilities. There will have to be some memorandum of understanding developed concerning who actually does what.”
Even after the ground is made as stable as possible, the lot will require maintenance as a certain amount of settling is still expected, explained deJongh.
“The facility will require some occasional maintenance because of the very soft underlying material, there is a likelihood that certain portions will settle differentially,” said the architect. “Those portions will have to have small amounts of materials added to them so that the level straight surface can be maintained.”
“They are all aware of this,” said deJongh. “DPW and especially Commissioner Darryl Smalls has been instrumental in the project and he understands the need for the maintenance.”
Once completed, which is expected to be sometime in February, the new parking facility will be a welcome relief for St. John drivers, deJongh added.
“They’re going to get a good facility and it’s something that I know has been hoped for for years,” he said.