May 23, 2005 – Reliance Housing Foundation is negotiating to buy Cruz Bay Apartments, a 20-unit affordable-housing complex near the Cruz Bay Creek, St. John Community Foundation board member Rob Crane said at the organization's annual meeting Monday.
The meeting, attended by about two dozen people, was held at the Fish Trap Restaurant.
The Community Foundation has managed the property for about two years. It is owned by First Centrum of Sterling, Va.
"We had planned on buying it and were going through the arduous contract process when Reliance came forward," Crane said.
He said that Reliance Housing is a better fit because the company is in the affordable-housing businesses. It is wrapping up work on the Bellevue Village affordable-housing complex on Gifft Hill Road and is preparing to build a similar project at Calabash Boom. It also built the Lovenlund Apartments on St. Thomas.
Lonnie Willis, outgoing president, said that the organization sent a report in February to Gov. Charles Turnbull on the feasibility of an island council-type government.
"We have not heard a word from the governor, I'm sorry to say," she said.
The governor charged the Community Foundation with exploring the idea when he spoke at a town meeting sponsored by the organization in December 2003.
The Community Foundation oversees several other projects on St. John. Director Carole DeSenne said that funding comes from grants worth "a couple of hundred thousand dollars."
For example, she said the Community Foundation's Dial-A-Ride program gets $20,000 from the United Way and $40,000 from the Human Services Department. The program provides low-cost, door-to-door transportation for elderly and infirm residents.
DeSenne said the seniors who currently use the program in conjunction with the Community Foundation are planning a marketing program to let those who might benefit from the program know about it.
She said that the organization hopes to get a smaller van to make it easier for the driver to get to houses located on narrow lanes.
She said the Community Foundation is looking for the $155,000 it needs to start up its glass recycling program.
"We have $60,000 worth of equipment," she said.
The glass recycling machine is set up at the Westin Resort and Villas because the hotel allows the organization to use space on its property.
DeSenne said that once the program gets underway, the organization will work with the island's hotels and then the restaurants to gather glass. Eventually, it will place bins around the island for the public to deposit glass to be recycled.
She said the glass will be ground fine and used for various uses, including road building and making tiles.
The Community Foundation also developed a conflict resolution program for St. John public school students in grades kindergarten through nine.
"By the time they get to ninth grade they know how to deal with violence," board member Leslie A. Smith said.
Among it's numerous projects, the organization runs the Cruz Bay Clean Up and Beautification program, a children's village at the July 4th Celebration and is working on developing a cultural and civic center adjacent to Bellevue Village affordable housing community.
The members elected Martha Hills as president, Harry Daniel as vice-president, Smith as secretary, and Willis as treasurer for the 2005-2006 year.
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