Work Stops on New Gas Station

The Planning and Natural Resources Department called a halt to work on a gas station under construction by Estate Chocolate Hole Realty at Great Cruz Bay because of a bowing retaining wall.

“There’s a concrete issue,” Phillip Smith, DPNR’s director of building permits, said Thursday. The issue is a bow about 30 feet long and 18 inches wide located in the upper portion of the retaining wall.

Smith said “it bowed considerably” and that the builder stripped the forms off the concrete too early. He said they have to stay on from 20 to 35 days for the concrete to reach full strength.

He said the St. John building inspector told him about the problem the weekend of Oct. 27 and that, since then, the department has been in talks with Estate Chocolate Hole Realty to resolve the issue.

Planning spokesman Jamal Nielsen said the builder can either tear down the entire wall or rebuild the section. He said the builder is currently testing concrete before deciding on a course of action and submitting the plan to DPNR for its approval.

Smith said Estate Chocolate Hole Realty isn’t facing a fine or other sanctions because the problem wasn’t malicious.

He said earlier in the project, there were some erosion issues that had to be mitigated.

Recently, a piece of heavy equipment fell onto the wall from above, but Phillips said that isn’t part of the bowing problem.

Owner Nedal Salem said he couldn’t talk “right now” when reached Thursday and suggested a reporter call back in an hour. He did not return a message left on his voice mail an hour later.

The project raised the ire of residents during public hearings held by DPNR. Residents cited a variety of reasons that included the steepness of Jacob’s Ladder, the road leading to the site, and its proximity to the island’s only open gas station.

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