With an empty 10,000-to-12,000-square-foot building at the Crown Bay cruise ship port on St. Thomas, the agency’s board Wednesday took a look at the bigger picture.
“We want to have something with serious brand recognition that drives business to Crown Bay,” Tourism Commissioner and board member Beverly Nicholson-Doty said at the meeting held at the Battery on St. John.
She said that whatever business the Port Authority attracts to the vacant building, it needs to be one that generates excitement.
“We need a driver for Crown Bay,” she said.
Further, she said that a holistic approach is needed to the Crown Bay area, not just the cruise ship port. Other than the cruise ship dock and the adjacent tourism-related businesses, the remainder of the Crown Bay area is mainly industrial with numerous small businesses as well as the V.I. Water and Power Authority and the Public Works Department located near the port.
According to Nicholson-Doty, tourists frequently walk from the Crown Bay port to the downtown Charlotte Amalie historic district. While she said the area hasn’t faced any crime issues, it lacks sidewalks. She said she envisioned developing it into a place that provides a “pleasant walk” out of the cruise ship port.
Attorney General Vincent Frazer, who heads the Port Authority’s Property Committee, said that the agency needs to “begin discussion” with Property and Procurement about what to do outside the port’s fence. He said that the Port Authority might consider exchanging property it owns deep into the Crown Bay area and away from the port for property closer to the port to give it “total control of the street.” He also called for discussions with organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce on how to develop Crown Bay.
Vickee Armstrong, the Crown Bay District’s general manager, called for a master plan for Crown Bay.
When asked about the agency’s plans for developing the Port Authority’s waterfront property in Cruz Bay, St. John, Frazer said plans are still in the draft stage. The Port Authority presented several ideas to the public at a July 19, 2010 meeting that including shopping, walkways and in one plan, an amphitheater. Many at the meeting were not in favor of the agency’s plans, with one person calling them grandiose.
Frazer said the public will be allowed more input into the plans during public hearings.
Frazer briefly mentioned repairs at its Bournfield housing area. The Port Authority, after trying to close it down, agreed to make repairs. Frazer said a dozen units have had their roofs sealed.
Frazer also chastised Port Authority management for increasing the number of staff members. He said that the board pushed for things like retirements to reduce the number of people working for the Port Authority.
“I’m not going to be inclined to do any more hiring,” Frazer said.
In a departure from its usual practice of holding St. John meetings at the Westin Resort and Villas, the Port Authority met at the government-owned Battery with a catered lunch.
Board Chairman Robert O’Connor Jr. could not say what the savings would be.
“But the cost is going to be less,” he said of Wednesday’s meeting.