Jan. 25, 2006 – While the V.I. government has appropriated funds for the construction of public restrooms at three local beaches, Ira M. Hobson, commissioner of Housing, Parks, and Recreation, said Wednesday that there are still some things holding up the building process.
The money, which totals $325,000, was approved by the Legislature and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull in October as part of the government's 2006 operating budget. It will go toward restrooms at Lindbergh Bay and John Brewer's Bay on St. Thomas, along with Cramer's Park on St. Croix. Hobson said that the funds for these projects have already been released by the Office of Management and Budget.
However, he also explained that the department is still waiting on the approval of building permits for the bathrooms from Coastal Zone Management. "We have drawn up the plans for the new facilities," he said in a phone interview Wednesday. "But in the case of Lindbergh Bay, we are waiting to hear from the V.I. Port Authority. They own the land, and we have to get their approval before we can do anything like this."
Hobson said he has already spoken to Darlan Brin, VIPA's executive director, about the project. "He definitely approves of what we're going to do," Hobson said. "We just have to work a few things out."
Because of these factors, Hobson could not say when construction would begin. "But I can say that these restrooms are much needed – and this has been a problem for the community for years."
Hobson added that the lack of restrooms particularly concerned Reynald Charles, owner of the Patrick Charles Trucking Company on St. Thomas. Hobson said Charles came to him to discuss the issue about two years ago and offered to build the restrooms if the government funded the projects.
When contacted Wednesday, Charles said the need for bathroom facilities was most urgent at John Brewer's Beach, which both residents and tourists frequent throughout the year.
"When you don't have a bathroom at a beach like that, people end up going in the water, in the bush, anywhere they can," he said.
Sen. Celestino A. White Sr., who had been pushing for funding for the bathrooms prior to the approval of the budget, also said that Brewer's Beach holds activities for retirees during the weekends. "They shouldn't have to go and relieve themselves in the bush because there's no bathroom," White said when contacted Wednesday. "It's unsanitary."
White said he is calling on Hobson to make some headway with the construction within the next 30 days. "Otherwise, I will be calling on the public to stand up in protest – something should have been done already, but I haven't seen any action as yet," White said when contacted Wednesday morning.
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