March 28, 2002 While the V.I. National Park Visitor's Center has been open for nearly two years, the park is holding the official dedication ceremony from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday. The public is invited.
"It's primarily to signal the completion of the whole thing," Superintendent John King said.
While the park held an open house when the center opened in June 2000 and a similar event when new exhibits arrived last December, it has not held any formal ceremonies. King said landscaping has been added since the last open house.
Thursday's event will include a tour of the facility, located at the Creek in Cruz Bay. The building also houses the park's administrative offices and facilities for enforcement and interpretive divisions.
King said he expects Delegate Donna Christian Christensen, Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd, St. John Administrator Julien Harley, Friends of the National Park President Joe Kessler, and the National Park Service's regional director, Jerry Belson, to speak.
Construction on the $3.4 million center began in 1999. It is built on the footprint of the old visitor center, which was torn down to make way for the new.
The exhibits focus on the park's major themes - the natural history of its flora and fauna as well as its cultural history. They include sections on the sea, the land and the people who historically inhabited the island - the Amerindians, early Europeans and enslaved and free Africans — and the subsistence economy that existed until the 1950s.
If you miss the dedication ceremony, you can view the exhibits and ask park rangers questions from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
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