July 25, 2003 — The V.I. Port Authority's governing board voted unanimously on Friday to grant the Public Finance Authority permission to proceed with the Frederiksted Economic Revitalization Project.
VIPA will write two letters to the PFA, giving them permission for development on land that is owned by the Port Authority, including the entrance to the pier on Strand Street and the Ann E. Abramson Marine Center — the formal name for the Frederiksted pier.
PFA executive director Kenneth Mapp requested that the board grant the permission at the Port Authority's July 15 board meeting, but VIPA could not vote on Mapp's proposal at that time because they lacked a quorum. Mapp also had requested the board assist the PFA by contributing $2 million. (See VIPA board discusses Frederiksted project.)
Although the board granted the PFA permission, the Port Authority still has to iron out a few issues as well as make modifications to the plan.
Ultimately, "development of the docks should be under the control of the VIPA," said Darlan Brin, Port Authority executive director.
Pamela Richards, VIPA chairwoman and Tourism commissioner, had many questions and concerns that will need to be addressed:
— How would the changes in homeland security affect the project?
— Would cruise lines be the primary users of the pier or would locals be able to use it?
— Would Mapp's agency be able to provide a grant?
Leslie Milliner, board member and private citizen, wanted to make the vendor's plaza a permanent set-up. "I think it is very hard on vendors to pick up their goods every day and go home," he said.
Brin suggested that the plan be modified to limit potential hurricane damage by moving back a few items on the pier and constructing the two proposed large buildings on a smaller scale.
The Port Authority did not determine what their financial contribution to the project would be, but changes to the plan would affect the price tag.
"We know the VIPA is in the red financially," said board member Robert O'Connor Jr., private citizen. "An assumption is being made that VIPA has money someplace." Also, he said, an assumption is being made that improving Frederiksted will bring back cruise ships.
"I like how it looks," said O'Connor. "I am bringing these things to the board" because "it needs to be said."
"I don't think it's worth $2 million," said board member Dean Plaskett, Planning and Natural Resources commissioner. He felt, however, something nice can be done for Frederiksted.
"This project would put people to work," said Iver Stridiron, vice chairman of the board and attorney general, in support of the project.
However, "the VIPA should work very closely with the PFA to make sure the project goes through," said Milliner.
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