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PORT AUTHORITY PREVIEWS 2002 PROJECTS

Aug. 24, 2001 – The financially healthy V.I. Port Authority brought the Senate Finance Committee up to date Thursday on capital projects in the pipeline and noted plans for new airline and ferry operations.
Gordon Finch, VIPA executive director, appearing with Darlan Brin, chief port planner, and Lloyd Romeo, director of administration and finance, outlined VIPA's 2002 budget, which, Finch stressed, will not go before the authority board of directors for approval until Sept. 19. The proposed budget calls for $56.6 million in spending, $21.3 million of it for capital projects Finch outlined.
The budget is to be financed primarily from generated revenues, estimated at $45.6 million. The balance is projected to come from federal grants. The authority does not receive any money from the government's General Fund.
Capital projects VIPA has started or will start in FY 2002 include the following:
St. Croix: the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport terminal building expansion and renovation, the airport runway extension, and the Gallows Bay dock development.
St. John: the long-planned, $16 million Enighed Pond cargo facility, which Finch said will move forward as soon as VIPA receives the funding from the V.I. government.
St. Thomas: the Red Hook marine facility, St. Thomas harbor dredging, the Crown Bay cruise ship terminal, and the upgrading of the Charlotte Amalie waterfront apron — which still is scheduled to begin in FY 2001, or before the end of September.
Under questioning from Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole, Finch gave some details about the Federal Aviation Administration's deadline for the territory to shut down the Anguilla landfill on St. Croix. The FAA has said the landfill must be closed by the end of 2002 because it poses a hazard to aviation from the birds at the landfill. [See St. Croix Source story "FAA wants answers to landfill closure plan".]
Sen. Norma Pickard-Samuel asked Finch about rumors that VIPA was going to supply $5 million to subsidize a new airline coming into St. Croix. Finch said it was only a rumor. He noted that Sun Airways had made a presentation at the last VIPA board meeting and had asked for nothing in the way of financial considerations. Finch said he would welcome more airline seats into St. Croix, which he said has been an ongoing concern.
Finch also noted that two fast ferry services are scheduled to begin service this winter between St. Thomas and St. Croix: Boston Harbor Cruises, which already has a V.I. business license, and Crucian Express Inc.

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