Feb. 10, 2005 — Standing on the corner of King and Market streets in the heat of the midday sun, representatives of the West Indian Company Ltd. presented Our Town Frederiksted with a check for $50,000 to further the organization's efforts in the revitalization of the historic buildings and residences in the town of Frederiksted. WICO board member, Bent Lawaetz, a former St. Croix senator who was born and raised in Frederiksted, said WICO "has a lot of interest in the town." Lawaetz and St. Croix Administrator, Gregory Francis, who is also a WICO board member, handed over the check to Our Town board member Alphonso Franklin and executive director Alice Henry.
"OTF has made a big difference in this community," Francis said. "We need to give the people of St. Croix a positive image of WICO; WICO is a Virgin Islands entity." Francis commended the organization for their efforts in sprucing up the town. He also reminded the gathering of other recent donations made by WICO to the community. In November 2004, Edward Thomas, WICO president, presented the Juan F. Luis Hospital and the Crucian Christmas Festival with $10,000 and the Frederiksted Economic Development Organization with $35,000. (See "President: WICO Involved in Getting Ships to St. Croix").
Henry echoed Francis's sentiments. "WICO has been a major donor to OTF for the last three years," she said. "This will go a long way to help carry out our initiatives."
Our Town Frederiksted started its efforts to make over the historic town three years ago. "It's been remarkable," Henry said. The organization has restored over 100 buildings with its Paint, Scrape and Rejuvenate program, and Henry said the low-interest rehabilitation project has one final project to complete. Another Our Town initiative is the "Clean Sweep" program which targets empty lots which are sometimes a haven for drug dealers, and, with the owners' permission, clears the lot of debris. "If there is any demolition to be done, we can do that too," Franklin added. Franklin said several properties whose owners no longer live in the Virgin Islands have been donated to the town after being contacted by the organization.
Henry said one of the good things about the WICO donation is that it is not restrictive. "It can be applied to almost any project; it's not dedicated to a specific project."
Lawaetz said he asked the WICO board to contribute the money to Our Town. Lawaetz said he told the board $50 million is being spent on the waterfront project, and asked what is being done on the other streets. "$50,000 is a pittance" compared to what is happening on Strand Street, Lawaetz said. The Frederiksted waterfront, Veterans Park and Vendors Plaza are currently being renovated by Coastal Systems International and funded by the Public Finance Authority.
"We want to thank WICO for their confidence in us," Henry said.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.