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Hardgrove: Paving, Parking On Tap For Park

Feb. 27, 2009 — The V.I. National Park is on the move with a slew of improvement projects, park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove told the 25 members of the Rotary Club of St. John gathered Friday for their weekly meeting at the Westin Resort and Villas.
Chief among them is paving the North Shore Road, in the planning stages for several years but about to come to fruition.
"If funded, we'll pave all the way to Annaberg and Centerline Road," Hardgrove said.
The year-long paving project, expected to begin in June, will start at the park's maintenance area, located where the North Shore Road heads uphill out of Cruz Bay. The Federal Highway Administration has allocated $4.9 million to pave as far as Trunk Bay, but if another $3.9 million becomes available under the stimulus bill, more work can be done, Hardgrove said.
The additional work will include paving behind the Cruz Bay Visitors Center, which Hardgrove said would increase the number of parking spots available. While there were only two of the 25 spots allotted for visitors, Hardgrove said that the park has shifted some of its parking needs to the nearby maintenance parking lot to free up more spaces for visitor parking.
The paving project also includes reconstructing the failing road base where needed, installing new signs and putting in pedestrian walkways.
The park plans to open up a 25- to 30-vehicle parking lot across from Maho Bay where a trailer now sits. Hardgrove said this will alleviate the dangerous parking situation that exists along the North Shore Road at Maho Bay because cars must park along the road.
The park will receive a $50,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to hire a transportation expert to develop alternative transportation solutions for the park. Hardgrove said the park will work with the island's taxi drivers to make sure they're included. The transportation expert will live on St. John from June through December.
Hardgrove ticked off a list of other projects slated for the near future if the U.S. Congress passes the 2009 budget. They include rehabilitation of the public restrooms at the Cruz Bay Visitor's Center and emergency stabilizations of the Trunk Bay ruins.
Hardgrove announced that the park's archive and research center, located at the Biosphere Reserve, will open in two or three months. It will house the park's historic documents and photos.
"They're irreplaceable," he said.
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