St. John Tradewinds News

Awaiting Permit Modification Approvals, VIPA Eyes November Enighed Opening

The V.I. Port Authority is awaiting approval from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to modify the original permit for the Enighed Pond commercial facility, allowing an extension of the deadline to plant mangroves in the dredged material in the interior corner of the pond, foreground.

V.I. Port Authority officials are still eyeing a November opening date for the long-awaited $16 million Enighed Pond Marine Facility, but VIPA still is awaiting word from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on two permit modification requests before the facility can be opened to the public.

While the newly constructed marine freight facility at Enighed Pond is “nearly complete,” there are two impediments which must be addressed before the port can be opened for public use, according to a VIPA spokesperson.

“Enighed Pond, for all intents and purposes, the majority of the work is finished, but there are two areas where we need approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and we haven’t gotten the approval yet,” said Carol Henneman, VIPA executive assistant and public information specialist.

Rock Must Be Removed
One of the major problems holding up the project’s completion is the USACE’s approval to allow VIPA to remove a rock in the Turner Bay channel, according to Henneman.

The solid rock in the navigable channel of Turner Bay leading to the marine terminal was discovered when the channel was shifted to avoid impacting marine underwater resources such as corals, sponges and other organisms. The rock must be removed but VIPA officials are awaiting a decision by the USACE to modify the permit for the project to allow for the rock to be removed.

“We need permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remove it, and we haven’t gotten approval yet,” said Henneman. “And the second issue is the mangrove planting.”

Mangrove Extension Requested
A large volume of dredged material from the pond which has been deposited on land is very soft and unstable, and the softness of the material is preventing the planting of mangroves.

The material, which was dredged from the pond and deposited behind a docking area, to plant the mangroves is too wet and VIPA is requesting more time to allow the material to dry out, according to the VIPA public relations specialist.

VIPA is asking the USACE to modify the permit to allow a longer time period to start and complete the planting of mangroves since the survival of large percentages of seedlings must be guaranteed.

“The Port Authority is asking for a revision of the original plan – we were supposed to cover a much larger area but now we are asking for a revision,” said Henneman. “We are going to complete the entire mangrove project but we want to do it in stages.”

Approvals Before Port Opens
Both of the permit modification requests must be approved by the USACE before Enighed Pond will open, added the public relations specialist.

Upon receipt of the USACE permit modifications, work will begin on excavation of the rock within the navigable channel and the initiation of the mangrove planting, according to a VIPA press release sent in mid-July.

“Since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not process permits pursuant to any statutory time limit, it is difficult to establish a schedule for completing the work and the opening of the marine terminal,” according to the VIPA release, which assured the public that they will be advised as soon as a decision by USACE is made.

“It would seem to me that once we get permission from the USACE that these two issues can be mitigated and the pond can be open,” said Henneman.

On May 15, 2003, the USACE approved a one-year extension to VIPA’s previous permit expiration date to allow the completion of the construction of the terminal facility, making the new permit expiration date November 3, 2005.

November is the definitely the “target date” for opening Enighed Pond Commercial Port, according to VIPA’s executive director, Darlan Brin.

“November is the target date, but VIPA does not hold all the variables in our hands,” said Henneman. ABC Not Fired From Enighed
The VIPA announced the termination of services of American Bridge Company from the Crown Bay project on September 7, citing the reason for termination as “dissatisfaction with the service provided by the company.”

American Bridge Company, which is also the company that was awarded the VIPA’s $12.8 million design-build contract for the construction of the Enighed Pond port project, has not been terminated from the St. John project, according to the public relations specialist.

“The two projects are not related, they (American Bridge Company) are just terminated at Crown Bay, they have not been terminated from Enighed Pond,” said Henneman.

“American Bridge Company’s work is basically finished at Enighed Pond,” said Henneman. “They may have one or two items left, but all of their work is basically finished.”