July 18, 2002 – Improvements to the Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve on St. Croix inched a bit closer to reality on Wednesday with passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of a bill sponsored by Delegate Donna M. Christensen that appropriates $1.5 million to pay for part of a parcel of land adjacent to the park.
In order for the measure to move forward, the Senate must pass its version of the bill, and the two bodies must agree on a final version to send to President Bush, Christensen said in a release issued Thursday.
The 8.5-acre parcel of land contains a 4,800-square-foot house that will be converted to a visitor center and staff offices. The park currently has no facilities on its 948 acres. "With park service personnel at the site, visitors to Salt River will be able to have the quality of their experience enhanced as they come to enjoy the rich history and environmental treasures that the area provides," Christensen said. The park will get some of the 8.5-acre parcel through a donation.
The bill also included a $1 million capital improvement grant to help fund solid waste and wastewater treatment facilities in the territory. Brian Modeste, an aide to Christensen, said he expects this figure will be increased in the Senate version of the bill or when the Senate and the House worked out the final version.
"We're telling the members of the Senate and the House that we need more," Modeste said. However, he said that any amount will help to improve the territory's waste-treatment system. The failure to make mandated improvements has cost the territory millions of dollars in federal fines.
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