Dear Source,
I have been wondering for some time, and I have expressed my concern openly to a few associates. Do we here in the Virgin Islands have competent civil engineers working in the interest of our government and are they truly concerned citizens of this community? You may wonder why the question since you may know of civil engineers who reside in this community. My question is born out of the obvious lack of open expressions of concern over what I and others have observed to be patently deficient public works done on behalf of our government. I have not heard nor seen engineers who share their expertise with the community in seeking viable solutions to our engineering problems.
When we look at the repairs or refurbishing of the "Franklin Building" or the construction of the new public schools they exhibit all kinds of deficiencies. Some I understand do not have sufficient storage facilities for potable water, others have deficient air conditioning systems, others have in my personal observation, inadequate playgrounds for our children. Now let us turn to our roads, a typical example is the streets in town, particularly Main Street. DPW's way of maintaining or repairing the street is by adding asphalt on top of what is there raising the level of the streets that in some areas the street and the sidewalk are almost on the same level. Is that proper engineering ?
I am no engineer and neither are many of the residents, but common sense would suggest that the streets should be kept lower that the sidewalks that the water could run into the gutters to get to the draining system that exist. And speaking of sidewalks; sidewalks should not be maintained by DPW but rather by the property owners who would meet the standard set by DPW Engineering Division. I guess this is to expect too much of the elected and appointed public servants, for them to truly work intelligently and efficiently in the interest of our community.
Have you observed the newly paved federally sponsored road that runs from the Magens Bay road in the West past Mahagony Run to Cassi Hill? There have been attempts to "fix" the most visible damage where a gut runs. I would think a type of bridge would be a more efficient way of solving that problem. A high official of DPW agreed with me that would a better solution than what is being applied. That is not the only spot that could use that corrective measure.
Should we expect better from these public servants if we the people don't demand that they do better? Most of the work that I see being done is by low echelon employees that do not have the title nor the salary of the technicians and middle and upper management personnel. These highly paid public servants who do not want to get their shoes dusty avoid field supervision of work being done for the government. No wonder there is so much deficient work done by the government and for the governmentpaid for by our tax dollars.
I do not think the Senate Government Operations Committee would care to investigate any such allegations; it may be too trivial for their attention, to seek improvement of government services.
What is left for us to do as concerned citizens? I think we can publicly discuss our dissatisfaction with their performance and then seek to have them replaced. There have to be consequences for malfeasance, for negligence, for disrespect to the public by public servants.
Without consequences of some sort, the bad conditions in our government that we complain about would not be corrected. If you doubt my assertion let us try it, let us express in tangible and legal ways our dissatisfaction with the services we are receiving. We have experienced that inaction gets us no positive results, action does. Therefore let us be proactive and join together to demand better public services, better government.
J. J. Estemac
St. Thomas

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