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HomeNewsArchivesV.I. Answer Desk: When Will Fort Christian Reopen?

V.I. Answer Desk: When Will Fort Christian Reopen?

When is Fort Christian scheduled to reopen, and why is it taking so long? That’s what Adventure of Islands V.I. asks the Answer Desk.
Excellent questions, and ones the Source has been following for years, most recently this April. We have been trying since that time to get permission to explore the structure, and provide an update to our readers.
Though the staff at the V.I. State Historic Preservation Office has been more than accommodating, the permission must come from director Lorna A.C. Thomas, who has not returned repeated calls since April.
Most recently, through a staff member, she referred the Source to Darryl Smalls, Public Works Commissioner, who has not returned recent calls.
Renovation on the historic structure began in May 2005 — after more than a decade of bureaucratic wrangling — with much fanfare and an estimate of a year’s work. The work has been stalled by delays, some unforeseen, such as the discovery of skeletal remains buried in the walls of the Lutheran church once on the site. This was followed a few months later by contract disputes on a lead-abatement contract. Finally in June 2007, the work began again with a new focus brought about by additional funding.
In 2008, the four renovated faces of the tower’s famous clock were installed. Initially, the work was designated as a "conservation and stabilization" project because the government couldn’t afford the work entailed in a restoration process. However, Thomas said at the time, "We were able to get a bit more commitment from the Federal Highway Administration to extend restoration, and the local Public Finance Authority added $2 million more." The FHA originally provided a $1.2 million grant.
The Source will continue its investigation.

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