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HomeNewsArchivesNearly $2M in Funding Slated for Coki Point

Nearly $2M in Funding Slated for Coki Point

Now that a 10-day cleanup effort has cleared Coki Point Beach of garbage and debris, the government is moving ahead with some more permanent improvements to the area, including plans for new restrooms and a boardwalk.

Public Finance Authority board members on Friday approved $750,123 worth of funding to finish off the project, which, according to Housing, Parks and Recreation officials, is expected to cost an overall $1.7 million. The department has already received a little more than $500,000 to start the project, but plans were stalled after an archaeological study revealed there are graves in the area, which forced a change in the design plans.

Since then, the project has been broken up into phases, the first of which will be the renovation of bathrooms to include a cistern and office, which is expected to cost — according to the winning bid — $472,000. The remainder is pegged somewhere around $261,000, Roy Canton, the department’s territorial projects coordinator, told board members Friday. Canton said Housing, Parks is also including a 15 percent contingency — about $97,000 — in case there are more changes in the architectural and engineering plans or other unforeseen developments.

Also included in the plans is a vendor pavilion, with spaces for nine vendors instead of the initial 11 to 13, officials added. The extra funds needed to finish off the project will be coming from interest earnings on the 2003 gross receipts bonds, according to board members.

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Negotiations are ongoing with the selected contractor, St. Thomas-based Custom Builders, who Canton said he’s trying to work down to five or six months for the construction of the bathrooms, instead of a projected 18 months.

Part of the beach area — including land around the cemetery — is privately owned, and the government currently has an informal agreement with the landowners to use the space for parking. Negotiations to put in place a more formal agreement fell apart years ago, but PFA board chairman Gov. John deJongh Jr. said after the meeting that he will be sitting back down for negotiations now that the government has cleaned up the area and is committed to maintaining it.

DeJongh said the recent cleanup, which he launched after a shootout last month killed two teenagers, went well and addressed two main issues: beautifying the area and adding police to curb illegal activities and help safeguard against any further violence.

And as officials look at taking a more aggressive approach to crime, efforts are also underway to find youngsters in the community more things to do — which includes backing Housing, Parks on a number of playground and recreation projects. PFA board members approved:

  • $195,000 to complete renovations inside the Winston Raymo Recreational Center on St. Thomas (funds will be coming from interest earnings on the 2003 gross receipts bonds);
  • $65,000 to construct a concession and bathrooms at Isaac Boynes Ball Park on St. Croix (the money will be coming from the PFA’s project and administration fund)
  • $17,500 to reimburse Housing, Parks for the cost of installing energy efficient lights at the Subbase paddleball and tennis courts;
  • $75,000 for renovations to the Contant playground and basketball court; and
  • $48,000 to finish work at the Kirwan Terrace basketball court, along with field and fence upgrades.

"The funding for these capital projects is important, because if you notice, they’re all focused on improving neighborhoods," deJongh said after the meeting. "We have been looking at being aggressive with arrests, but we also need facilities for our kids to go."

Wrapping up Friday’s meeting, the board also approved a $147,840 funding request for the Health Department to buy a new chiller for the Charles Harwood Medical Center (because one of the units is beyond repair, the building has become overheated, forcing workers to go home early, officials said), and gave the go-ahead for the V.I. Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) to begin negotiating with the V.I. Water and Power Authority on a final lease agreement for space near Crown Bay.

VIHFA owns the land and has agreed to build an office complex that WAPA will lease in order to cover the debt service payment on up to $10 million in Recovery Zone Economic Development bonds that the PFA will be floating to finance the project. The proposal will come back to the PFA once an agreement between the two agencies is finalized, officials said.

Board members present during Friday’s meeting were Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson, deJongh, Office of Management and Budget Director Debra Gottlieb and Keith O’Neale Jr. Board member Pablo O’Neill was absent.

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