Dec. 2, 2004 On Thursday, the V.I. Port Authority Governing Board voted to approve a resolution that would redirect funds from the Red Hook Terminal Project to cover costs of dredging Crown Bay and the Gregerie Channel.
VIPA will redirect $1.5 million from the Series C Bond proceeds geared for the Red Hook Terminal to be used for the dredging to provide easier access to larger cruise vessels.
"There was an impediment in the Gregerie Channel hindering large ships from coming into Crown Bay," VIPA Executive Director Darlin Brin told the board.
Brin said the rock formation had been removed by contractor V.I. Cement and Building Products Inc. and part of the $1.5 million will cover the costs of its removal.
However, two more areas in the East Gregerie Channel need to be dredged because of large deposits from sand drifts that have made the water shallower, Brin added.
"We need to remove these impediments," Brin told the board.
One of the areas is near the cargo dock. Brin said the shallowing of the water makes it difficult for the cargo ships to come in, especially this time of year when they are loaded.
The cost of dredging for the two remaining areas is $692,934.
The board also approved a resolution to seek out requests for proposals for the dredging of the Ann E. Abramson Pier in St. Croix. Brin said the estimated cost for the work, which will remove sand-drift deposits from the northern part of the pier, is $500,000.
Brin said only two local companies have the equipment needed for the dredging: V.I. Cement and Building Products Inc. and Xenon Construction.
The board approved $400,000 budgeted for the Crown Bay project to go towards the dredging of the Frederiksted Pier. The board will also redirect $240,000 from the general operating expenses budget to cover any remaining costs.
"We are seeing that there is an emergency for it [the dredging]," board member Pamela Richards said.
Richard said when the Royal Caribbean ship Voyager of the Seas came into St. Croix Tuesday night divers were sent down in the water to assess where the debris was in relation to the ship.
Brin said in some areas it was a matter of three feet.
"If we're going to continue having the cruise lines coming to take fuel," Brin said, it would be imperative to create more depth.
The Abramson Pier can now accommodate two of the Voyager-class cruise ships and two mini cruise vessels.
The board commended Richards, who also serves as Tourism commissioner, on her efforts in getting the Royal Caribbean to agree to fuel bunkering on St. Croix.
"It was a lovely sight to see all those people on the Frederiksted Pier," board member Alva Swan said.
Richards said the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line also commended the Port Authority on the construction of the Abramson Pier.
"They said it was one of the best constructed piers in the Caribbean," Richards said.
In other action, the board also approved a resolution to lease the Planning and Natural Resources Department two plots of land in Crown Bay in exchange for DPNR's leasing them two plots of land in Gallows Bay, St. Croix, for $1 a year.
Brin said DPNR, believing the land was theirs, has been leasing the Crown Bay property to Amalie Car Rentals for years. Also, VIPA, believing the Gallows Bay land was theirs, had been occupying it for years.
Recently, it was brought to their attention that the Crown Bay land belonged to VIPA, while the Gallows Bay land belonged to DPNR.
"We have been using, occupying and fencing the property as if it were our property," Brin said, urging the board to approve the lease exchange to continue with the plans for the development of Gallows Bay.
VIPA Legal Counsel Don Mills said, "This is the most feasible way of accomplishing what the board wants to do."
Board Chairman Robert O'Connor said if DPNR and VIPA were to swap deed titles it would take a lengthy process due to government bureaucracy. The board voted unanimously to approve the lease exchange.
Attending the meeting Thursday were O'Connor, Richards, Swan, Hector Peguero and James Rodgers. Board members Wayne Callwood and Dean Plaskett were absent.
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