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Port Authority Board Taking Out Lawsuit Insurance

Dec. 19, 2007 — The V.I. Port Authority board Wednesday approved purchasing insurance for its members against expensive lawsuits arising out of actions by the board.
"With insurance, no board member will have to suffer a charge against his own personal finances for having to appear in court in relation to the actions of the board," said VIPA board chairman Robert O'Connor.
Board member Gordon Finch expressed some concern as to whether members would still be covered after they were no longer on the board. Legal counsel for the board said coverage would go forward, insuring members and holding them financially harmless for their actions on the board even after they left, but would not cover anything retroactively or former board members not presently on the board. After this clarification, the board approved the measure.
The board treated as urgent the status of Waste Management Authority plans to close the Anguilla landfill on St. Croix. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration have mandated closing the landfill, adjacent to St. Croix's Henry E. Rohlsen Airport.
"We need to understand what the WM is doing relative to the closeout and get some commitment from the WMA regarding the closing," said VIPA Executive Director Darlan Brin. "The reason we need to know is the impact it is having on AIP funds."
Airport Improvement Funds (AIP) are federal grant monies. FAA concerns about the landfill have restricted those funds.
"What the public needs to realize is the territory is losing money because of the inaction here," said board member Cassan Pancham.
"The Port Authority needs to get proactive in engaging both the WMA and the government in resolving this," Finch said.
Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls, who sits on both the Port Authority and the WMA boards, said he would take the request back to WMA.
"But I can tell you we are working to a resolution," he said. "Although I recognize that the dates are too far out, extending beyond what is acceptable for the Port Authority."
The board also agreed to lease property in Crown Bay to Jaredian Design Group to construct a building to house a professional architectural and engineering firm and other rental space.
The building would cost Jaredian roughly $800,000 to build, said Attorney General Vincent Frazer, also a board member. Jaredian would need more parking than is currently available, he said. The approval was granted with the provision that Jaredian would finance half the cost of paving 9,000 square feet of the property. The Port Authority would shoulder the other half.
Resurfacing work on runways at the Rohlsen airport should be complete soon, Finch reported.
"The resurfacing has been requested by the FAA in order to resolve their finding that the taxiway was in serious disrepair, during their last inspection," Finch said. "The staff expects by mid-January that work will be done. One issue still up in the air is the disposal of the asphalt spoils from this contract."
New parking-payment machines are on their way to the Rohlsen and Cyril E. King airports and to Redhook.
"These are highly automated systems," he said. "You'll be able to use your credit card to pay. Part of the concern was to get funding from people who are leaving late and not paying for parking."
They are slated to be completely installed by the end of February, Finch said.
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