April 21, 2006 – Friday was a "feel good" day on St. John, as more than 100 people gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the Enighed Pond Marine Facility.
"It's a major accomplishment," said Sis Frank as she waited for the festivities to begin. Now 82, Frank said that when ground broke for the project on July 13, 2003, she never thought she'd live long enough to see the project happen.
Many speakers mentioned the trials faced by the V.I. Port Authority in bringing the project to fruition. To start with, there were tiffs with the government over ownership, numerous obstacles placed in the way by environmental groups, and funding issues.
Once the project got under way, the Port Authority had to deal with fish kills, foul odors that arose from the material dredged from the pond's bottom, and finally, a big rock in the pond that is now marked with a buoy.
After St. John Administrator Julien Harley said the Port Authority still must build bathrooms and install water and pay phones at the facility, Port Authority board chairman Robert O'Connor Jr. said the facilities will come. O'Connor also said the agency is looking for a company to dry up the dredged spoils that remain in the area.
Sen. Roosevelt David, who was instrumental in lining up $16 million worth of Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles bonds, called GARVEE bonds, got a new name for himself – Sen. Garvee Bonds or similar variations – from many of the speakers.
"I'm so elated. I'm electrified, in fact," David said when he took his turn at the microphone. He said when he first arrived on St. John 40 years ago, people were already talking about the need for a port to move commercial traffic out of the Creek.
O'Connor, a St. John resident, observed that it took lots of people coming together to make the project happen.
Former Sen. Almando Liburd, who attended the event, was responsible for ironing out the ownership issue. "I'm so happy to see the fruits of our labors," he said.
Former Port Authority director Gordon Finch, who also attended, received numerous kudos for his efforts.
Darlan Brin, the current director, also received good words for his years of efforts in making the project happen, though Brin had a meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration and could not attend, according to O'Connor.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards and others noted that long delays in getting Enighed Pond in the works resulted in a higher price tag.
Gov. Charles Turnbull said Enighed Pond was proof that when all three branches of government worked together, things will happen.
"This is a positive step for St. John and the entire Virgin Islands," Turnbull said.