March 8, 2006 – It was a gathering place for families. It was an entertainment venue for the best bands in the Caribbean. It was a place where childhood memories were made. It is the Vincent F. Mason Sr. Coral Resort, affectionately called "The Pool." This public gathering place has been restored to its former glory and more than 200 members of the community came out to give it a grand "welcome back".
Turn left at the Frederiksted fish market and travel about two miles past white sandy beaches interspersed with sea grape groves and you will run right into the Frederiksted public swimming pool. After being closed for more than two years for renovations, residents were welcomed back Tuesday, to rededicate the facility.
The young and not so young, dignitaries, friends and families congregated under the pavilion and mingled amid the picnic tables celebrating the reopening of the facility that was community gathering place for decades.
The facility, originally called the public swimming pool, was renamed in 1980 in honor of Vincent F. Mason Sr. an employee of the Department of Conservation and Cultural Affairs who died while on duty.
"If Vincent were here today he would have been proud. I am sure he is here with us in spirit and smiling," said Vincent's widow, Irene Mason, who attended the opening with her sons.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards reflected on his earlier days at the pool. He said as a youth he played in a band that often entertained at the pool. "Memories were made here," he said, smiling. Richards said the governor emphasized the necessity to restore historical buildings, parks and recreation areas.
"St. Croix is on the move," Richards said. He pointed to an increase in restaurant dining, real estate sales and construction. Gov. Charles W. Turnbull was out of the territory.
The facility holds restrooms, a concession building and lifeguard room painted in vibrant yellows, pinks and blues to complement the backdrop of the tropical sky and sea. The cool water of the newly renovated pool anticipates the hordes of swimming and splashing children. The spacious pavilion, with its curved pine roof, awaits the crowds of people who will celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other family milestones.
"It's a wonderful facility," said Delegate Donna M. Christiansen.
Harvey Sasso, president of Coastal Systems International, the general contractor for the project, said the facility was designed to give a "resort feel" to the area.
Kenneth Mapp, director of finance and administration for the Public Finance Authority that financed the $14 million Frederiksted Revitalization of which the pool and recreation area are a part described what is phase one of the larger project. He said the pool and recreation area encompass approximately five acres. The 1,150 square foot pool has been converted from salt water to fresh water. The newly renovated restrooms are equipped with showers and the former pump house has been relocated to provide an unobstructed view of the sea. The landscaping includes 55 coconut palms, 24 silver buttonwood trees, seven Tiki shelters, 13 picnic tables, eight barbeque's and a new volleyball court, all connected by 700 feet of paved walkway.
Agriculture Commissioner Lawrence Lewis served as master of ceremonies. Housing Parks and Recreation Commissioner Ira Hobson made opening remarks. Other speakers included David Benjamin, who was a personal friend of Vincent Mason Sr. and Our Town Frederiksted President, Alphonso Franklin. The event was catered by the Career and Technical Education Center Good to Chew Catering Company.
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