Long-delayed work upgrading the La Reine Fish Market and renovating the Estate Profit Recreation Center may get under way soon, if legislation sent on Thursday for a final Senate vote is enacted into law as anticipated. The Rules and Judiciary Committee also sent on legislation to create scholarships in the field of emergency management and four nominations to volunteer governing boards.
Opened in 2002 at a cost of $205,000, the fish market was shut in November of 2007 after a newspaper report cataloging problems with the market prompted a closer look by the V.I. Health Department, which found poor drainage and plumbing, unsanitary bathrooms and other maintenance problems. Inspectors found full waste tanks, drains clogged with fish scales and broken restrooms. (See Related Links below)
In 2010, the Legislature approved bond funding for the La Reine work and $650,000 is available now – but bids came in well above that figure.
Rules approved a bill from Sen. Sammuel Sanes to reprogram $200,000 of funding for the Durant Tower construction in Frederiksted and devote $150,000 to upgrade the La Reine Fish Market and $50,000 to renovate the Estate Profit Recreation Center. [Bill 30-0343]
This new $150,000 together with the existing money will be enough to pay for the entire project, Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said during recent committee hearings on the bill. Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson testified in support of the reprogramming of funds.
Sanes said, "This is not taking any money from any other funds. It is reprogramming funds from an existing project to repair the concession center and the La Reine Fish Market. We are finally able to get the funds to repair the fish market, which will not only improve the esthetics of the area but boost the seafood industry."
Rules also approved another bill from Sanes [Bill 30-0188] that would create $5,000 scholarships to students who study emergency management and agree to return to the territory to work in that field.
As written, the measure would set aside 1 percent of the Peace Officer Training Fund, a fund made up of $5 fees attached to all detention bonds and a portion of vehicle license fees, created to establish a steady source of funding for police training. It also would set aside 1 percent of the Internal Revenue Matching Fund, which consists of all federal rum excise taxes remitted to the territory.
The committee amended the bill Thursday to instead set aside 2 percent of the Peace Officer Training Fund. Internal Revenue Matching Fund and none of the Internal Revenue Matching Fund. The fund would be held by the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency and doled out in cooperation with the V.I. Board of Education, which handles about $1.5 million in scholarships annually.
Students who do not return to work in the territory would be liable for the full scholarship amount, plus 10 percent.
Both bills were sent on for final floor vote without opposition. Voting yea were Sanes, Sens. Diane Capehart, Janette Millin Young, Kenneth Gittens and Donald Cole. Sens. Shawn-Michael Malone and Myron Jackson were absent.
The committee also voted to send on four St. Thomas-St. John nominations to boards and commissions: Angie Smith to the V.I. Taxicab Commission; Vernon Araujo to the V.I. Council for the Arts; Leigh Goldman to the V.I. Real Estate Appraiser’s Board; and Colette Jones to the V.I. Housing Authority Board.
Smith moved to the territory 25 years ago with her family, graduating high school on St. Thomas, then getting a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business from the University of the Virgin Islands. She owns three St. John businesses: VIVAQ Villas, Sunshine’s Jeep Rental and Grunwald Cottages. She is also a real estate agent.
Jones is currently attending UVI. She is a manager of Claire’s Boutique in Tutu Park Mall.
Goldman received his law degree from Georgia State University College of Law in 2001. He is currently in private practice and is a former associate in the BoltNagi and Smock and Moorehead law firms.
Araujo received a bachelor’s degree in communication from Boston College. He currently works as development director at the Family Resource Center and manages media accounts for 104.3 FM The Buzz and Melee Media.
Editor’s Note: This article originally misstated the source of funding for the scholarship selected in an amendment to the bill, incorrectly suggesting the fund was over-appropriated. The original bill was amended to appropriate 2 percent of the Peace Officer Training Fund.