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Coral Council Hears Solutions for Parking Problems

Feb. 16, 2005 –– Help is on the way for Cruz Bay's parking problem, Julien Harley, St. John administrator, said Wednesday at a meeting of the Coral Bay Community Council held at the John's Folly Learning Institute.
He said on Feb. 22 and 23, the parking lot across from the U.S. Post Office will be lined and converted to 45-minute parking so people have a place to park when they have errands to do around Cruz Bay.
"But it's important that the rules are enforced. We will be learning on Hill to be diligent," he said, referring to Deputy Police Chief Angelo Hill.
Currently, people who park for the entire day or longer fill most of the spaces. Harley said those all-day parkers will be expected to park in the parking lot adjacent to the public tennis courts. That parking lot was recently repaved.
Harley also said the plans are progressing on a parking garage in Cruz Bay. The garage will be built in the parking lot adjacent across from the Creek bulkhead.
He said the $2-million garage will have 77 regular parking spaces plus four spaces for handicapped parking.
It will also have some spaces for vendors.
Harley said the Public Finance Authority will fund $1 million of the project, with the other $1 million coming from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund. Apex Construction is the contractor.
The administrator said plans are in the works to trade land owned by the Paiewonsky family on Hassel Island near St. Thomas with a piece of V.I. National Park-owned land at Catherineberg so the local government can build a public school. Similar negotiations between the local government and the park have been on and off for years, but Harley said it appears that this time it will actually happen. The park already owns much of Hassel Island, and the Paiewonsky land would add to its holdings. Harley did not explain how the deal would work.
He said that an occasional visitor, Elizabeth McCormick, is putting together a philanthropic package to raise $8 million for the school on the condition that the government match it with its $8 million.
"We'll match it," Harley said.
Hill, who also spoke at the meeting, said bids went out on a police department substation for Coral Bay on Feb. 10. It will be built next to the fire station on the spot where St. John Rescue currently parks its vehicle.
He said two St. Thomas contractors bid on the job, and will submit final bids by March 10. Hill said it was not too late for a St. John contractor to bid.
He said that the contractor will have six months to finish the job.
Hill said the police department will have to buy things like furniture and radios for the new substation.
Harley said that plans are in the works to restructure the way taxis operate on the Cruz Bay waterfront. Currently, they are assigned almost all the parking spaces along the waterfront, and are not shy about using any other spaces supposed to be reserved for residents and visitors to park.
He said that a limited number of taxis will be allowed at the waterfront. The rest will remain at a staging area.
"When six are used, they'll call in six more," Harley said.
He said that the government will provide a dispatcher.
Additionally, a boardwalk with benches will be built along the waterfront.
Deputy Public Works Commissioner Ira Wade said money has become available to address some of St. John's road problems.
"I recently put in a second request to open up King Hill Road," Wade said.
This road runs from Coral Bay near the Domino gas station past Love City Mini-Mart, on past Coral Bay Gardens to Centerline Road. The portion from Coral Bay Gardens to Centerline Road is usually impassable. Wade said that it can be bulldozed to open it, but as soon as it rains, the road becomes unusable.
Opening the road would provide another route to and from Coral Bay, which could be needed if Centerline Road was closed as it heads downhill into Coral Bay.
Harley also announced that $10,000 left in the coffers when the St. John Action Committee disbanded many years ago will be used for a uniform signage system for St. John. The signs sport palm trees, a beach and blue water.
He said they identify sites like shopping, beaches, the ferry dock, and the library.
A welcome sign on the Cruz Bay ferry dock reads "Welcome to St. John, Virgin Islands: The Crown Jewel of the Caribbean. "
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