WAPA Board Approves New Lease, Change Orders

With a lease for office space in Altona about to expire, V.I. Water and Power Authority officials are seeking to move the utility’s business and financial services divisions to the Port of Sale Mall, which would give employees easy access to WAPA’s executive offices across the street.

During Wednesday’s monthly meeting on St. Thomas, WAPA’s board authorized the authority’s acting executive director to enter into a lease with Port of Sale for $4,315 per month beginning next week and ending on Jan. 31, 2018.

WAPA relocated its business and financial offices from Estate Subbase in 2012 after they were destroyed in a fire. The lease for the Altona space ends this month and officials said that the location “has not proved the most desirable” for conducting business. Officials said everything can be moved into the new space by Tuesday.

The board also approved a $65,548 change order that would allow for the completion of a project that would put a dedicated water line from the authority’s New Street storage tank in Frederiksted to Stand Street. The purpose of the project is to improve water quality to the cruise ship dock and officials said Wednesday that the change order covers, among other things, the installation of a new filtration system and adds 66 calendar days to the existing contract.

The line will improve water quality in the area and officials said they are looking at covering the cost with federal funds recently awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would deal with the second phase of the project, which looks at improving water quality within the entire town. In the meantime, the funds for the first phase have been appropriated by the Legislature through the Public Finance Authority.

With the change order, the total project cost would total $543,125 and the end date will be June 24.

The board also approved a change order of $454,299 for detailed design, engineering and construction management for fire protection systems upgrades at the territory’s two power plants. WAPA officials said that the funds cover the addition of a sprinkler system and extra detectors for Unit 16, along with safety awareness training for utility personnel that come into contact with the power plants.

The change order brings the original contract amount up to $5.2 million and pushes back the original end date for the project.

In response to questions from board members about the additional change orders, WAPA officials said that slow payments from the government, particularly the territory’s two hospitals, have caused delays to various projects and are impacting other contracts, along with the supply of materials.

The board also approved a one year option to purchase property insurance for the authority until March 31, 2017, for a premium of $1.6 million from Wortham Insurance; and a one year option for excess liability insurance coverage for the authority through April 1, 2017, for a premium of $1.1 million from Theodore Tunick & Co.

Wrapping up the meeting Wednesday with an executive summary of the authority’s ongoing conversion to liquefied propane gas, officials said they expect St. Croix to be fully on propane during the week of April 4.

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