St. John Tradewinds News

Residents Hear from Fire, Police, Waste Management and Public Works

St. John will have a deputy police chief by June 12, V.I. Police Department Commissioner James McCall promised residents at a town meeting on Tuesday evening, June 5, at the Cruz Bay Legislature building.

That was just one of the promises made to residents who packed the building for the meeting — hosted by St. John Administrator Leona Smith and Senator at Large Carmen Wesselhoft — to hear from  government department heads, including representatives of Public Works, Waste Management Authority, Port Authority, Fire Service and VIPD.

With questions ranging from the cleanliness of the public bathrooms to police surveillance cameras,  residents were pleased to have the opportunity to address officials.

The absence of several key department heads, however, may have fed some of the frustrations aired. Representatives from the Water And Power Authority, Department of Planning and Natural Resources and Housing, Parks and Recreation were notably missing from the gathering.

Police matters were raised by several residents during the three and a half hour meeting.

VIPD Deputy Chief Soon Come
While St. John has been without a deputy police chief since Angelo Hill was removed from the position late last year that will soon change, McCall explained.

“You will have a deputy chief within seven days,” McCall said in response to a question from Albert Willis.

After residents on St. Thomas and St. John complained of excessive towing, VIPD officials have revaluated their towing policy, according to McCall.

Drivers who do not have their license or proof of insurance with them, will have one hour to get their vehicles off the road instead of being towed on the spot. Also, the towing of a vehicle is no longer a VIPD officer’s decision, but must now be approved by the watch commander on duty.

“No longer will there be the wanton towing of vehicles,” said McCall.

While VIPD surveillance cameras are operational, individuals often know how to avoid getting taped and officers need to be informed if something must be looked at, according to Sgt. Penn.

Cameras Work, But Crooks Can Evade Lens
“The cameras are working but we have not received any information from residents saying we should look at something,” said Penn. “If something happens, let us know.”

As part of a new initiative, officers will no longer park in front of the Loredon Boynes Ferry Dock, but will patrol the area on foot, McCall explained.

VIPD officials are hoping to launch a cadet program on St. John in an effort to get the island’s youth involved with law enforcement and more Love City residents are needed on the force, according to St. Thomas/St. John VIPD Chief Milton Petersen.

“We need to see more St. John police,” said Petersen. “We depend greatly on officers coming from St. Thomas. I would like to see more St. John residents join the force and take care of law enforcement on their island.”

Sirenusa Fire Issue Raised
The issue of Sirenusa was first raised in relation to the ability to combat fire St. John will have a deputy police chief by June 12, V.I. Police Department Commissioner James McCall promised residents at a town meeting on Tuesday evening, June 5, at the Cruz Bay Legislature building.

That was just one of the promises made to residents who packed the building for the meeting — hosted by St. John Administrator Leona Smith and Senator at Large Carmen Wesselhoft — to hear from  government department heads, including representatives of Public Works, Waste Management Authority, Port Authority, Fire Service and VIPD.

With questions ranging from the cleanliness of the public bathrooms to police surveillance cameras,  residents were pleased to have the opportunity to address officials.

The absence of several key department heads, however, may have fed some of the frustrations aired. Representatives from the Water And Power Authority, Department of Planning and Natural Resources and Housing, Parks and Recreation were notably missing from the gathering.

Police matters were raised by several residents during the three and a half hour meeting.

VIPD Deputy Chief Soon Come
While St. John has been without a deputy police chief since Angelo Hill was removed from the position late last year that will soon change, McCall explained.

“You will have a deputy chief within seven days,” McCall said in response to a question from Albert Willis.

After residents on St. Thomas and St. John complained of excessive towing, VIPD officials have revaluated their towing policy, according to McCall.

Drivers who do not have their license or proof of insurance with them, will have one hour to get their vehicles off the road instead of being towed on the spot. Also, the towing of a vehicle is no longer a VIPD officer’s decision, but must now be approved by the watch commander on duty.

“No longer will there be the wanton towing of vehicles,” said McCall.

While VIPD surveillance cameras are operational, individuals often know how to avoid getting taped and officers need to be informed if something must be looked at, according to Sgt. Penn.

Cameras Work, But Crooks Can Evade Lens
“The cameras are working but we have not received any information from residents saying we should look at something,” said Penn. “If something happens, let us know.”

As part of a new initiative, officers will no longer park in front of the Loredon Boynes Ferry Dock, but will patrol the area on foot, McCall explained.

VIPD officials are hoping to launch a cadet program on St. John in an effort to get the island’s youth involved with law enforcement and more Love City residents are needed on the force, according to St. Thomas/St. John VIPD Chief Milton Petersen.

“We need to see more St. John police,” said Petersen. “We depend greatly on officers coming from St. Thomas. I would like to see more St. John residents join the force and take care of law enforcement on their island.”

Sirenusa Fire Issue Raised
The issue of Sirenusa was first raised in relation to the ability to combat fires in tall buildings.

The St. John Fire Department does not have equipment or manpower to respond to a fire in a four-story building, St. John Deputy Fire Chief Winifred Powell explained.

“We do not have equipment to handle a four-story building on St. John,” said Powell. “That has been a concern. We do not have the equipment or manpower to respond to a fire of four stories or higher.”

Fourteen senators — overriding Governor John deJongh’s veto — voted last month to allow Enighed Condominiums LLC to add additional stories to three buildings at its Sirenusa site, raising the heights of two buildings to four stories.

St. John has bigger problems than being able to respond to four-story fires, Wesselhoft, who voted in favor of the override, said later in the meeting.

Street Names Needed More Than Fire Truck
“No island has the capacity to respond to a four-story fire,” said the senator at large. “We have a bigger problem on St. John than having a fire truck reaching tall buildings. We need street names.”

The subject of Sirenusa came up again when one resident questioned DPW St. John Deputy Director Ira Wade about access to the now 47-unit luxury condominium development overlooking Cruz Bay.

Sirenusa has one entrance — up Serendip Road— and one exit at the bottom of their property, Wade explained.

“We did a traffic study to determine the best way to get traffic back to Route 104,” said Wade. “A determination was made that when residents come out of the exit, they should make a right and come out to Pine Peace Market and onto Route 104.”

“No Good Way” Out of Sirenusa
“The alternative was to come out of the exit and make a left and go back up the hill and come out on the dangerous corner on Jacob’s Ladder,” Wade said. “There just is no good way to come out of there.”

WMA officials answered questions about Sirenusa’s impact on the island’s waste water treats in tall buildings.

The St. John Fire Department does not have equipment or manpower to respond to a fire in a four-story building, St. John Deputy Fire Chief Winifred Powell explained.

“We do not have equipment to handle a four-story building on St. John,” said Powell. “That has been a concern. We do not have the equipment or manpower to respond to a fire of four stories or higher.”

Fourteen senators — overriding Governor John deJongh’s veto — voted last month to allow Enighed Condominiums LLC to add additional stories to three buildings at its Sirenusa site, raising the heights of two buildings to four stories.

St. John has bigger problems than being able to respond to four-story fires, Wesselhoft, who voted in favor of the override, said later in the meeting.

Street Names Needed More Than Fire Truck
“No island has the capacity to respond to a four-story fire,” said the senator at large. “We have a bigger problem on St. John than having a fire truck reaching tall buildings. We need street names.”

The subject of Sirenusa came up again when one resident questioned DPW St. John Deputy Director Ira Wade about access to the now 47-unit luxury condominium development overlooking Cruz Bay.

Sirenusa has one entrance — up Serendip Road— and one exit at the bottom of their property, Wade explained.

“We did a traffic study to determine the best way to get traffic back to Route 104,” said Wade. “A determination was made that when residents come out of the exit, they should make a right and come out to Pine Peace Market and onto Route 104.”

“No Good Way” Out of Sirenusa
“The alternative was to come out of the exit and make a left and go back up the hill and come out on the dangerous corner on Jacob’s Ladder,” Wade said. “There just is no good way to come out of there.”

WMA officials answered questions about Sirenusa’s impact on the island’s waste water treatment system although WAPA officials were not present to field similar questions.

Sirenusa will add about 11,000 gallons of waste water to the Cruz Bay treatment plant a day while Grande Bay will add another 8,000 gallons, according to Charles Bornman, WMA’s director of engineering.

 “We are operating at 50 percent capacity, so we have the capacity to handle an additional 150,000 gallons a day,” said Bornman. “When they applied to hook up to the system, we had no choice but to approve those two permits.”

The well-recognized need for a dialysis unit on island was raised several times during the meeting.

Dialysis Unit Needed
While Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center Administrator Harold Wallace talked about plans for the facility’s future, he cautioned that some services would be too costly to add.

Despite repeated requests for the service from residents and Wesselhoft, bringing a dialysis unit to MKCHC would be a very expensive project, according to Wallace.

“Bringing dialysis here would be very expensive,” said Wallace. “We must understand ‘Business One.’ We’re not talking about “Business 101’ — we’re talking about revenues must exceed expenses.”

“It’s not that the health center doesn’t want dialysis, it’s just very, very expensive,” Wallace added.

It could cost upwards of $1 million to get dialysis started on Love City and additional funds would be needed for maintenance over the next several years.

“A new feasibility study must be conducted and money set aside and earmarked especially for this,” said Wallace.

Getting a dialysis unit on St. John is necessary, according to Wesselhoft.

“This is something we are willing to fight for until it comes to fruition — no matter how expensive,” said the senator at large.

The Schneider Regional Medical Center should provide transportation from Red Hook to the hospital for St. John dialysis patients who must travel to St. Thomas, according to a resident.

“That is something that can be worked out — we have some possibilities,” said Wallace. “We’ll look into it. It’s something we want to do.”

DPW Commissioner Darryl Small said his department would assist in transportation needs for dialysis patients as well.