The V.I. Port Authority is planning to make the public parking lot at Enighed Pond Marine Terminal into a paid facility, VIPA Director Carlton Dowe said Monday at a town meeting held at the Legislature Building. He did not disclose any of the details as to pricing and how the Port Authority planned to collect the money.
Dowe said the Port Authority is also figuring out how to limit parking in its lot across from the post office to two hours.
The paid parking plan was not received well by several among the more than 100 people who attended the meeting.
When St. John resident Denise Wright asked why paid parking was necessary, Dowe told her the money goes to “do the business of the Port Authority.”
Wright continued her line of questioning. “Then we’d have no free parking. Is that okay with you guys?”
Dowe cut her off and told her not to interrupt.
Later St. John resident Michael Milne pointed out that it was likely to cost the Port Authority more to hire staff and pay for the infrastructure to implement paid parking than it would make.
Dowe countered, “The Port Authority manages several paid parking lots and we don’t lose money.”
Former Sen. Craig Barshinger pointed out that the Enighed Pond parking lot construction was paid for with government money, not Port Authority dollars.
Cruz Bay’s third public parking lot, located across from the Creek, is owned by the territorial government. It’s also free. There are several private lots that charge a fee.
The Port Authority, a semi-autonomous agency, opened the Enighed Pond lot about four years ago to help alleviate Cruz Bay’s dire parking situation. Then and now, vehicles park all day at the lot across from the post office, leaving no spaces for people to park while using the post office, shopping or eating at Cruz Bay’s restaurants. People running into the post office usually double park.
The Enighed Pond lot is a bit of a hike to downtown Cruz Bay but drivers desperate for a parking space can usually find room there.
Dowe also announced plans to tighten up the Cruz Bay ferry dock parking situation.
Currently taxis, residents and villa managers jockey for space along the waterfront to pick up people. He said the Port Authority was “not going to allow chaos” on its property.
Kristen Cox of the St. John Accommodations Council said, “Put us in an area where we’re not in the way of the taxi drivers.”
After she told Dowe that the Accommodations Council wanted to work with the Port Authority on this matter, Dowe promised that the Port Authority would do its best to make sure everyone coexists.
He also said that since the taxi drivers are paying to use the parking area near the dock, the villa managers would have to do the same.
Dowe said that the Port Authority will issue a request for proposal to manage the Cruz Bay ferry dock taxi stand.
“We believe it will be done better in the private sector,” he said.
Delrise Varlack, who runs Varlack Ventures ferry company, asked for improvements at the ferry dock. She suggested that restrooms and eating facilities would be a welcome addition.
In response to a suggestion that the Port Authority add a second story to the ferry dock waiting room, Dowe said such a project would cost “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
“But we will look at it,” he said.
Dowe also said that plans are in the works to resurface the ferry dock, which was built in the early 1990s.
St. John resident Sharon Coldren suggested that the Port Authority use the Creek bulkhead as an entry way to Cruz Bay for recreational boaters who want to shop and use restaurants.
“They would pay a fee,” she said.
Dowe told St. John resident Jodi Hodge that the Port Authority put up what Barshinger called Stalag 17 fencing at the ferry dock and the Creek because the federal government mandated it after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
However, Barshinger said the Port Authority could apply for a waiver so it could take down the fencing.