DPW Asserts Cruz Bay Roundabout Will Minimally Affect JESS Annex

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JESS students currently use the school annex’s west entrance, above.

Despite education officials’ concern regarding the impact the Texaco roundabout will have on the surrounding Julius E. Sprauve School buildings, Department of Public Works officials assert the roundabout will only minimally affect the Clarice Thomas Annex.

While the construction of the roundabout will require the relocation of the entrance to the Clarice Thomas Annex, the building will otherwise remain intact, explained DPW Territorial Highway Program Manager Wystan Benjamin.

“The school doesn’t have to move,” he said. “There will be one minor impact on the annex. They originally use the west entrance, and when we build the curb there, we’re going to ask them to utilize the east entrance, where there are some stairs already.”

“That’s the only impact,” Benjamin continued. “Nobody has to move, and no buildings have to come down.”

Concern Over Student Shuffle
Teachers and parents have expressed concern over a plan — which has been discussed internally at the V.I. Department of Education, but not made public — to close down the Clarice Thomas Annex and send Julius E. Sprauve School kindergarten through third graders to the Guy Benjamin School in Coral Bay, and ninth graders to the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School on St. Thomas.

The V.I. Department of Education has not officially commented on the plan to shuffle St. John’s students, and DOE spokesperson Juel Anderson did not respond to repeated requests for information.

Julius E. Sprauve School Acting Principal Alecia Wells admitted to knowing about the plan, but said she was “not at liberty to say” what the plan involves.

Education officials may be concerned about the roundabout because they are unsure how much its construction will affect JESS, explained St. John Adminis-trator Leona Smith.

“Apparently, according to education officials here on St. John, they’re up in the air because no one has contacted them,” Smith said.

Businesses Minimally Affected
The affect the roundabout will have on the school was explained to a JESS representative who attended DPW’s “90 percent design meeting” on January 9, according to Benjamin.

Surrounding businesses will also be minimally affected by the construction of the roundabout.

“The Boulon Center is going to see some impact, as we’ll be putting up a couple of retaining walls in that area,” he said. “There will be some impact to the building’s parking, temporarily.”

The construction will be staggered so the Boulon Center parking lot will not have to completely shut down, and the use of the Texaco property will also help to ensure parking is available.

“We’re going to do one side at a time, so we’re not going to move to the other side until we finish the side we’re working on,” said Benjamin. “It’s not going to be one big open excavation. We will leave open whatever portions we can at the space where the gas station is for any additional parking spaces the public may need to access the Boulon Center.”

JESS’ industrial arts building, where Avelino Samuel teaches woodturning, and the V.I. Election Systems office will not be affected.

Sidewalks on All Sides
Despite plans which indicate there is no sidewalk on the Boulon Center side of the handicap ramp and crosswalk, there will be sidewalks along all the roads at the roundabout, explained Benjamin.

“If you follow all the pedestrian walks on the plan, you can’t miss it,” he said. “There should be a sidewalk on each of the four legs.”

Although construction of the roundabout will not begin for several months, the Texaco has been asked to vacate its government-owned lot by June 30.

This will give the gas station enough time to remove its tanks in time for construction, explained Benjamin.

“We know they have a lot of work to do in terms of removing tanks,” he said. “It will take them the same amount of time to remove the tanks as it will take us to advertise and secure a bid for construction.”

The gas station will be demolished once construction begins, Benjamin added.

A public meeting where residents will have the opportunity to offer comments and suggestions on the roundabout has been tentatively scheduled for June 21 at 6 p.m. at the St. John Legislature.

Input on Traffic Control, ADA
“The purpose will be to get some input on how we’re going to construct it, and how the traffic control will be done,” said Benjamin. “We will present some scenarios we’re looking at, and will get ideas from the public in terms of any ideas they may have that we could incorporate into what we have already. We will also discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility.”