May 8, 2005 – When the newly renovated Frederiksted waterfront area opens to the public in June, residents will be able to enjoy a multi-use facility that combines form and function. The waterfront renovations stretch for about one quarter mile from the south wall of Fort Frederik to the Ingerborg Nesbitt Clinic parking lot. On Friday, Lionel Jacobs, waterfront revitalization government representative, conducted a walk-through of the project. Francisco "Paquito" Melendez, St. Croix assistant administrator, and Fred Essanason, from the office of the Governor, participated in the walk-through.
Clock Tower Plaza and Vendors Square
At the northern end of the renovations is the Clock Tower Plaza and Vendors Square. The clock tower stands on a rise of three steps circling the structure. The steps are made of cut limestone imported from Santo Domingo, and thinner limestone tiles decorate the bottom half of the tower. The clock has a new face and will chime on the hour. Seven flagpoles stand in a semi-circle on the east side of the clock tower. The seven flags, which at one time flew over St. Croix, will fly again in this area. Lighting is installed at ground level to illuminate the flagpoles as well as many of the palm trees throughout the park.
There will be eight permanent vendors' booths in the Vendors Plaza. An additional eight mobile booths will be utilized on cruise ship days. Rest rooms are being completed on the pier and there are additional rest rooms at the Oscar Henry Customs house a few feet away. A new oval sea wall, capped with limestone, provides several feet of scenic seating.
The meandering path begins at the clock tower plaza and snakes its way through the entire waterfront area. The area is landscaped with several types of palm trees and indigenous flowering plants. At one point the path descends to sea level providing amblers a closer access to the sea.
The original walking path, along the sea, features the familiar four foot yellow "ballards," or columns, connected by heavy metal chain link. The columns have been updated with limestone caps. Hard wood benches with decorative wrought iron work and matching trash receptacles dot the park.
At the point where Customs House street intersects the waterfront is Star Plaza. Fashioned into the brick walk is an eight-pointed star representing the cardinal points, or principal points, of a compass. The west point of the star is in line with the center of the pier, the east point is in line with the center of Customs Street. The other points direct you south, north, and directions in between. A plaque which explains the significance of the star will be placed at the center.
Market Street Plaza
At the foot of Market Street is an area locals will soon be frequenting with regularity. Domino enthusiasts will enjoy a quick game on one of the six custom-made, permanently installed, domino tables. The area also features several groupings of benches for family fun, meetings, or just watching the sunset. Anglers will enjoy this section of the park too. A set of stairs leading to the sea will allow fishing enthusiasts to cast their line into the water in hopes of catching a bite.
The Entertainment Section
The stage is 15 feet by 40 feet and elevated to about 2 feet. The monthly Sunset Jazz production and many other musical events are waiting in the wings to grace this waterfront stage. No entertainment stage in the Virgin Islands can boast of such a scenic background, featuring unmatched natural sunrises, sunsets and the ever-changing vista of the Caribbean Sea. Additional lighting has been installed as well as electrical outlets. The stage can also be used for graduations and other ceremonies. You still will have to bring your lawn chairs because in front of the stage is a grassy area.
This is the section of the waterfront where the meandering path diverts behind the stage and descends to sea level before ascending again and continuing through the park.
The next area of interest is Veterans Plaza. The section marked off by bricks forming a triangular shape with the point indicating the center of Hill Street. Veterans Plaza honors Virgin Islands veterans of five wars and is a dignified memorial, marked by several stately royal palms. Five granite plaques with the names of Virgin Islands veterans will be permanently affixed in this area. At the wide end of the triangle, three flag poles stand; ready to fly the U.S., V.I. and Veteran's flags. Behind the flag poles a set of four stairs descend to sea level so sea side ceremonies can be incorporated into veteran's ceremonies. The original well will be refurbished with a new non-operable pump.
King Cross Street Plaza
The King Cross Street Plaza is located at the end of the waterfront revitalization project, abutting the Ingerborg Nesbitt clinic parking lot. Highlighting the area are two open wood work trellis gazebos. In time, native plants will climb these wooden structures giving both shade and beauty. Residents working in Frederiksted will enjoy a brief respite on several benches located under the gazebos. There is no doubt this picturesque area will be a favorite for visitors too. Another great item for picture taking and history buffs will be the refurbished well complete with a new old fashioned pump. The original walking path extends about 250 feet beyond this plaza
Parking Remains the Same
The public can utilize the parallel parking spaces on the left side of Strand Street. Cars will park in designated marked spaces atop newly installed cobblestone.
Finishing Touches Will Continue
The project, which contractors say is ahead of schedule, will be turned over to the government on June 30. However, the public may have limited access to the waterfront as early as June 15. Limited access allows admission to all of the waterfront area except the Ann E. Abramson Pier. Work on the pier will continue until October or November and be completed in time for the winter cruise ship season, according to Jacobs. Installation of water and underground utility lines continue. Renovations are also planned for Fort Frederik and the Paul E. Joseph Stadium.
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