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HomeNewsArchivesBIDS TOO HIGH, SO PARK WILL COLLECT MOORING FEES

BIDS TOO HIGH, SO PARK WILL COLLECT MOORING FEES

Aug. 13, 2002 – Contractors bidding on the job wanted too much money to collect mooring fees, V.I. National Park Superintendent John King said Tuesday; so, the park will do the job itself.
He said that in a couple of cases the bidders wanted more money than the projected amount of revenues. "We would have lost money," he said.
Initially, the park will use an honor system for collecting the $15 nightly fee for using any of the 182 moorings in park waters, King said. It will set up collection boxes mounted on platforms in popular anchorages. The boxes will have "pipe safes" for boaters to deposit their money, which will be collected several times a day by park staff
"We'll start out fairly low key to keep costs down," King said.
He said similar systems are in place at many national parks and federal campgrounds on the mainland. "The compliance rate is very high in stateside campgrounds," he said.
King said the collector will probably be the only person added to the existing park staff. Rangers already count boats and interact with visitors; so, they will be able to keep tabs on who pays and who doesn't, he said. However, if necessary, the park will add more staff.
Also, the park may start up a "bay host" program similar to those in place at stateside campgrounds, offering free use of facilities in return for services. Campground hosts receive a free campsite for monitoring camp activities. Locally, boating volunteers would receive a free long-term mooring in exchange for keeping an eye on bay activities. They would provide information to visitors and alert park rangers if boaters failed to put their mooring payments in the pipe safes.
No target date has been set for implementing the "host" program, the superintendent said.
King said 10 firms and individuals from St. Thomas and St. John bid on the fee-collection job and five of them met the bid specifications. He, Rafe Boulon, the park's chief of resources management, and National Park Service staff evaluated the five.
King said mooring revenues are projected at $350,000 a year. The cost to collect the fees and a 20 percent cut that goes to the National Park Service must come out of whatever is realized. He said the NPS gets 20 percent because the mooring fee collection program is part of the Park Service's fee demonstration program, which is in place at about a hundred national parks across the country.
The $4 daily fee charged at Trunk Bay and Annaberg Plantation also falls under the fee demonstration program. King said that since the program began in mid-1998, it has netted $1.1 million for park improvements on St. John. Expenditures totaling $660,000 have gone for such things as repairing the utility system at Trunk Bay and fixing showers for the handicapped.
King said that this year's fee demonstration program money will go for improvements at Hawksnest Bay and Maho Bay. The work will include replacing bathrooms and changing rooms at Hawksnest and replacing the pavilion and installing bathrooms at Maho, with costs expected to total $572,000.
Last year, the program grossed $739,717. It cost the park $239,000 to collect the fees, and the National Park Service got $148,000 as its 20 percent, leaving the park more than $352,000 for its projects.
The money generated by the mooring fee program will go to pay for maintaining the moorings and navigational aids within park waters. King said the cost of doing so is about $250,00 a year.
The fee demonstration program has been extended several times, he said, and he expects it eventually to be made permanent.

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