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Cruz Bay
Monday, February 6, 2023


Nov 5, 2001 – Plans are afoot to improve signs, pedestrian walkways and the transportation system in Cruz Bay with help from the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service.
Acting park planner Jim Owens said that two or three staff members from that program will work on St. John in December and January to help develop plans for those areas of concern.
Improvements to Cruz Bay such as signage are the focus of St. John's Gateway Planning Council, a group developed by park management and island administrator Julien Harley to take advantage of National Park Service support available to assist park gateway communities. Cruz Bay is one of nine communities and organizations in the NPS Southeast Region to receive such help.
Ideally, Owens said, the same signage style should be used throughout Cruz Bay and the park itself. "The intent is not to overwhelm the community with signs," he noted. The signs would guide visitors to Cruz Bay facilities such as shopping, banks and the park Visitors Center, well as through the park. With a plan, he said, it takes a minimal number of signs to accomplish that goal.
Kate Campbell, saying such signs are needed, added her hope that they would direct visitors to all shopping areas, not just a few. "As long as it's fair," she said.
She said Cruz Bay and the rest of St. John need signs that work. Many posted now are unclear, she said, and many residents don't know the route numbers on maps and give directions like "Go by the tall tree and take a left at the Dumpster."
As far as pedestrian traffic, Owens said Cruz Bay suffers from narrow sidewalks — and in some places no sidewalks. Both situations make it difficult for those on foot to find their way safely around town.
The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance team also will tackle long- and short-term solutions for improving the transportation system in Cruz Bay. The traffic flow needs work and parking is a major headache.
"It's dog eat dog when it comes to parking," Campbell said. Government officials urge residents and visitors to use the parking lot adjacent to the tennis courts near the fire station, she said, but even there it's hard to find a space.
Other parking areas around Cruz Bay fill up early. Campbell said the seven spaces in front of Lemon Tree Mall, home of Pink Papaya, typically are taken up from early morning by cars owned by commuters to St. Thomas or people who work elsewhere in Cruz Bay.
Campbell said the situation is especially frustrating for her when she has to transport large numbers of boxes to her store and can't find anywhere nearby to park her car.
The NPS team also will work on developing a "gateway" concept for the Cruz Bay ferry dock and the park entrances. "At most national parks, you know you're entering a national park. Here, you hardly know it," Owens said. He said the entrances will not have actual gates but will feature some design element that signals entry to the park.
The National Park Service is not providing direct funding to the V.I. National Park for the project. Instead, it is funding the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program staff who will work on St. John.
The team is made up of experts in technical design and planning. Chris Abbett, who heads the program in the NPS Southeast Region, first visited St. John in March to lay groundwork for the project. He said the staff will be able to assist by conducting public workshops, providing educational materials, identifying potential funding sources and developing community-based visions and strategic plans.

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