The Virgin Islands Port Authority’s Board of Governors acted Wednesday on tearing down and replacing the port’s Gallows Bay arrival building, dredging again the Crown Bay channel, repairing the runway at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, and negotiating with Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT) in light of its proposed departure from servicing the U.S Virgin Islands.
The board accepted the bid from GEC Inc. of $1.4 million to tear down the present arrival building and build a new one. The staff report states, “The Gallows Bay Marine Passenger Terminal serves as a hub for inter-ferry service. Unfortunately, regularly scheduled ferry service between the islands has been suspended now for quite a number of years. However, there are plans in the making from both the public and private sector to reinstate the service.”
A bid opening was held Jan. 25 and GEC was the low bidder. Construction is expected to take one year.
The board agreed to allow LIAT to pay 50 percent of finance charges and 50 percent of 2007 operational dues fees due, or $26,000, and write off another $26,000. Donna Frett-Gregory, the chief financial officer, reported that neither party had full documentation any longer to prove what was exactly owed from 2007.
David Mapp, acting executive director, said LIAT never explained to him convincingly why it was stopping service to the Virgin Islands. He said he was only told LIAT was “reallocating resources” and “cutting out certain underperforming markets.” Mapp said, in his observation the airline was doing a brisk business serving the Virgin Islands. LIAT ceased operation on St. Croix March 1 and is expected to discontinue services to St. Thomas on June 15.
Attorney-General Claude Walker was the lone board member voting against the settlement. He questioned whether LIAT would actually discontinue service to St. Thomas.
The board authorized a proposal from American Infrastructure Development Inc. to provide professional consulting services for the design, permitting, bidding and award of services of the apron rehabilitation at the St. Croix airport. This effort is to ensure that certain pavement areas are safe for intended aircraft.
The board also approved the bid by Virgin Islands Paving of $278,000 to perform electrical repairs to the Frederiksted pier lighting systems. The new lighting system will include energy efficient LED lights. The bids were open Jan. 26 with Virgin Island Paving being the low bidder.
The board approved $250,000 to correct a Crown Bay channel dredging error when a funding source becomes available.
Last year the port authority received a Transportation Investment Generation Economic Recovery VIII grant for $10.4 million to conduct infrastructure improvements at the Gordon A. Finch Terminal on St. Croix. The board approved that staff enter into negotiations with Angie Brewer and Associates to define the scope of services and staffing to move forward on the grant projects.
The board approved a payment plan for O’Neal’s Transport past-due accounts of $86,000. The plan calls for payment of $5,000 per month for the next 19 months. The company has paid the rent due to the authority, but is past due on operational fees.
The board began the Wednesday meeting with a lengthy executive session. It reported two actions out of the session 1) staff is to expedite the payment of invoice process and 2) the executive director is to give monthly update on ongoing projects. The meeting was held in the Authority’s conference room on the second floor of the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport Terminal on St. Croix.