Sept. 24, 2003 – The V.I. National Park's new superintendent, Art Frederick, is getting his feet wet. In fact, there was so much rain at Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas, thanks to Sunday's deluge, that his plane turned around in the air to return to Puerto Rico.
He finally reached St. John late Sunday and has spent the last few days getting to know his staff of about 80 people.
"That is critical in coming into a new park," Frederick said.
While Frederick hasn't had time to formulate many opinions, he says creating a connection between the park and the community is high on his priority list. "The park needs to be doing a better job" in that regard, he said, and a town hall meeting could provide a forum for him to hear what residents have to say about the park.
Scheduled work laid out in the park's general management plan also is on his plate.
Although the park's last several superintendents have stayed for only for a few years, Frederick said he plans to be in the position for a while to give the park some sense of continuity.
While Frederick is African-American, he said his race will have no impact on his ability to do the job at the V.I. park, where most of the staff is black. "It makes no difference," he said.
He plans to commute regularly to Jacksonville, Florida, to visit his wife, Betty, a librarian, and their son Scottie, 16. He said they stayed behind so Scottie can finish high school where he is now and has two years to go.
The Fredericks have two other children. Borgia, 24, lives in Atlanta, and Trevor, 19, is a student at Florida A&M University.
Frederick has had a long career with the National Park Service, most recently as superintendent at Cumberland Island National Seashore off the Georgia coast.
He sees lots of similarities between Cumberland Island and the Virgin Islands, including the obvious fact that both are surrounded by water. Both also provide lots of recreational opportunities — and he said he plans to take advantage of the local options. He said that growing up in the Florida Panhandle introduced him to hunting and fishing, and he's eager to enjoy fishing on St. John.
A native of Quincy, Florida, Frederick began his park service career at Fort Caroline National Memorial in Jacksonville after graduating from Florida State University with a bachelor's degree in history. He worked four years as a park ranger at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and for 12 years at Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina.
Before transferring to Cumberland Island, he was assistant superintendent at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.
He also served in the U.S. Navy as a member of a special anti-submarine warfare unit.

Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here