St. John Tradewinds News

Still No Decision on U.S. Post Office Site as Officials Consider Garage or Guinea Gut

The V.I. Senate approved a lease for a plumbing supply company on a portion of this government-owned parking lot behind St. Ursula’s near the Elaine I. Sprauve Library despite suggestions the lot could be the site of a parking garage and U.S. Post Office.

The V.I. Legislature approved a lease for a small portion of government-owned land near the Elaine I. Sprauve Library and Museum to a plumbing company, a move which may eliminate the property as a potential site for a public parking garage and new Cruz Bay U.S. Postal Service facility.

A 5,000 square foot, street-front parcel next to the St. John Animal Care Center is being leased by the V.I. government to Hill’s Plumbing Supply, for a reported $700 per month.

The company is owned by a relative of St. John Deputy Police Commissioner Angelo Hill.

Awaiting Governor’s Approval
The lease was passed by the Senate “late at night” and awaits signature by Gov. Charles Turnbull, according to Senator at Large Craig Barshinger.

“It’s rare that a lease gets voted down once it gets that far,” said Barshinger of the senate vote on the lease to the plumbing company.

The parcel is a small portion of the government-owned vacant lot behind St. Ursula’s Church which is used for parking by rental car companies.

The site behind St. Ursula’s has been suggested as an alternative location for a public parking garage being pushed by Turnbull Administration officials for construction on the site of Nature’s Nook and W&W Fast Foods opposite the Cruz Bay creek bulkhead.

A new Cruz Bay U.S. Post Office could be built on top of a parking garage on that site adjacent to the Sprauve Library, according to proponents.

The St. John senator said he raised a general objection to the proposed lease of government land on St. John.

“I raised the issue that St. John real estate needed to be the subject of a plan,” Barshinger said.

The rental car companies are seeking a lease for the remainder of the property behind St. Ursula’s, according to Barshinger.

Despite strong community opposition to the construction of a parking garage at the Cruz Bay creek site which has included a lengthy petition against the project, Turnbull administration officials are still pushing for construction of a combined vendor’s plaza and parking garage on the site.

In recent months, the Governor’s Special Assistant for Capital Projects, Keith Richards, has suggested including a new Cruz Bay Post Office in the same project after a Postal Service search for a new location elicited the offer of only one private site, a property on South Shore Road across from The Westin Resort in Guinea Gut.

Only Two Sites Considered
The vendors plaza and Guinea Gut sites are the only two sites currently under consideration, according to U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Mildred Diaz.

“Everything is being evaluated,” Diaz said on May 9. “Officially, it is still in the evaluation stage. Alternate sites are being evaluated.”

The final Postal Service evaluation was limited to those two sites, according to V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, who met with V.I. government and Postal Service officials in the territory April.

There was an early May deadline for a Postal Service decision, according to Christensen who said it was too late for Postal Service officials to consider any other sites, either public or private.

No other sites have been suggested to the Postal Service, according to Diaz.

The Guinea Gut site, which is at the bottom of the east side of the precipitous Jacob’s Ladder hill between Great Cruz Bay and Cruz Bay, is adjacent to an apartment complex being completed in the gut to provide housing for staff at the nearby Westin Resort.