Public Works Digs Into Debris Mystery

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Where Kings Hill Road meets Route 107, the trash piles up like a wall. Despite the efforts of haulers and the government, the pile stays stubbornly in place.

This, in spite of a newly posted sign and a warning from Public Works. A lonesome red power shovel, mounted on one pile of debris, offered some perspective on what’s to be done and how much it will take.

The ever-growing pile of tossed furniture, shattered walls and window frames, discarded appliances sprung up around the public dumpster after the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, eight months ago. Contractors working after curfew cleared the site for hours at a time, sometimes working through the night.

But after a few days — and seemingly overnight as well, debris would reappear.
By early May the mysterious game of dumpster Cat and Mouse appeared to reach a truce.

The area around the dumpster stayed tidy. The curb across the street became another story. A five- to six-foot wall of trash now stretches around the corner and down King’s Hill Road towards the grocery store.

Public Works penned a pointed message: “The Department of Public Works would like to inform residents, specifically those living in Coral Bay, at the intersection of Route 107 and Route 20., that a crew will begin working today to remove a pile of debris located near Love City Market Friday, April 20, to clear as much of the growing pile as possible.

‘Once the site is cleared, signs will be posted to notify residents that illegal dumping is not allowed,” said the statement from Public Works spokeswoman Kinila Callendar.

The clean up was supposed to take a week. Now, with less than a month before hurricane season begins June 1, one district lawmaker said he doesn’t understand the slow pace of hurricane debris removal on St. Thomas and St. John.

During an office visit to St. John Friday, Senator Dwayne DeGraff’s staff saw and smelled the situation in Coral Bay.

“This is a hazard that can create health issues for the residents of the surrounding area,” DeGraff said. “The debris could also serve as projectiles in the event of another hurricane. With all the federal funding we have received and the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it’s a shame that debris removal has not been made a priority.”