A $10.5 million grant will help the V.I. Port Authority move forward with several aviation initiatives, including terminal improvements at both the Henry E. Rohlsen and Cyril E. King airports, officials announced Tuesday.
According to a VIPA news release, the grant will cover 90 percent of each project’s cost, leaving the authority to pay only 10 percent. Of the $10.5 million, officials said that $5.5 million comes in the form of Federal Aviation Administration discretionary funds, which up until three years ago were being withheld from the territory pending the closure of the Anguilla Landfill on St. Croix.
At this month’s board meeting, VIPA Executive Director Carlton Dowe spoke about the importance of having the agency maintain its relationship with the FAA, since the authority is already moving forward with some of the projects covered by the discretionary funds.
The issue was brought up during discussions about a lease renewal for the V.I. Waste Management Authority’s Red Point Wastewater Treatment Facility and a proposal by the FAA to include special conditions that would levy fines on WMA for its failure to close the landfill by the original 2016 date.
After about an hour of discussion, board members approved the conditions, which hinge upon VIWMA “capping and sealing” the landfill by June 30, 2020. At the meeting Dowe said VIWMA’s original consent decree with the federal government specified that the landfill by closed by 2016 and, since the agency missed the date, they would have to pay $31,000 in penalties, along with increased rent if they want the St. Thomas facility – which sits on Port Authority land behind the Cyril E. King Airport – renewed.
At a Public Finance Authority board meeting earlier this month, Gov. Kenneth Mapp said he had sent bills to the Legislature to fund the VIWMA: $10 million that would help cover some outstanding payments to vendors and another $20 million that Dowe said is meant to facilitate the closure of the Anguilla landfill. If the money is coming, it would not be a good idea to jeopardize millions of dollars in federal discretionary funds that the FAA could begin to withhold if the lease were renewed without the special conditions, Dowe said during this month’s board meeting.
According to VIPA’s Tuesday release, the $10.5 million grant would fund a runway rehabilitation and the sealing/remarking of the midsection of the taxiway at Rohlsen, along with the rehabilitation of Taxiway B (in the general aviation area used by private jets), the re-circuiting and installation of new runway edge lighting and an upgrade to the terminal security access control system at Cyril E. King.
“I sincerely thank VIPA’s staff who have worked diligently to complete this task,” Dowe said in Tuesday’s press release. “Their hard work allows us to continue to receive much needed funds to improve our airports.”
Dowe added that VIPA will continue to work diligently to improve its infrastructure throughout the territory.