Speculation and rumors have been rampant on St. John since the V.I. Port Authoritys decision in September to provide Dockside, a private business, with four parking spaces in VIPAs parking lot at The Creek in Cruz Bay.
St. John residents questioned how a private business was able to secure parking spots from a government entity in order to meet the requirements for a certificate of occupancy from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR).
DPNR Commissioner Dean Plaskett informed concerned residents at a Nov. 29 town meeting that an agreement had been drawn up between VIPA and Dockside, located on parcel 4C in Cruz Bay, next to the passenger ferry dock, in which the private business is supplying a utility easement to VIPA in exchange for the parking spaces.
On-Site Parking Safety Concerns
The spaces were provided to Dockside in order to avoid a safety problem that could potentially result from on-site parking, causing chaos to the vehicular and pedestrian traffic to and from the ferry dock, said Darlan Brin, VIPAs executive director, in a previous interview with St. John Tradewinds.
Plaskett echoed Brins sentiment at the November town meeting, and said that he believed the safety concerns were related to Homeland Security issues.
The written agreement, recently obtained by St. John Tradewinds, contains several stipulations, one of which prohibits the on-site parking at Dockside, which Brin cited as a safety problem.
No vehicle entry or egress will be provided on the northern boundary of Parcel 4C, which boundary fronts on the landing area of VIPAs Cruz Bay passenger ferry dock, according to the agreement, made on Sept. 1.
The document states that the parking spaces at The Creek were provided in recognition of the valuable consideration received by VIPA, referring to an agreement by Dockside to provide VIPA with a utility easement.
VIPA acknowledges that the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) has requested and received … a utility easement for the undergrounding of VIPAs electrical service to the Cruz Bay passenger ferry dock and for the placement of the VIPA electrical meter on Parcel 4C, said electrical service to utilize a transformer and meter bank that Dockside Mall Inc. has purchased and placed on its property and made available to VIPA, according to the document.
The agreement to provide parking spots to the private business comes with several restrictions.
VIPA reserves the right to relocate these parking places at any time … and VIPA may impose any reasonable restrictions, regulations or fees on the use of said parking places for safety, security or other such reasons to be determined in the sole discretion of VIPA, states the written document.
Despite the fact that the parking spaces were granted to Dockside in recognition of the valuable consideration received by VIPA, many residents have stated that they do not agree with the government agencys decision to reserve parking spaces for a private business.
Several residents at the town meeting questioned whether VIPA officials plan to rent spaces to other businesses in need of parking.
Is the Port Authority going to set a precedent? asked one resident.
Assuming Patrick (owner of Patricks West Indian Delight) was mobile, could he rent two spaces? inquired Senator at Large Craig Barshinger. Is it equal treatment for all?
St. John resident LeAnn Oquendo shared her frustrations in attempting to build her house to code and include the required number of parking spaces.
By the time we finished following the rules and regulations, I had to build up instead of out, and it cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars, Oquendo said. Can the Port Authority give me parking?
There is currently no plan for leasing any further parking spaces, said Dale Gregory, director of engineering at VIPA, in response to residents. What I only can do is take concerns and questions to the executive director.
The provisions of the agreement that allow VIPA to relocate the parking spaces or impose restrictions and regulations could result in Dockside losing its certificate of occupancy, said Plaskett.
If parking is taken away, the CO will be taken away, he said at the town meeting.
The public backlash after the certificate of occupancy was granted was not a surprise to DPNR officials, said spokesperson Jamal Nielsen.
I wouldnt say we were surprised, he said. But were glad (the public) is taking part in the process.