STJ Angels – Long Term Recovery Team Unveils Community-Driven Recovery Plan; Seeks Public Comment

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A plan for the long-term recovery of St. John, created with direct public input from the community, is now publicly available, and it is open for additional public comment until Friday, Oct. 5. The St. John Long Term Recovery Plan incorporates the post-storm needs and vision of St. John residents in one document, detailing over 30 key projects designed to make the island more resilient.

The STJ Angels – Long Term Recovery Team, in partnership with many non-profit organizations and territorial and federal government agencies, conducted the community-based planning process. This includes data from: individual interviews across a diverse sampling of the community; direct public outreach in the form of surveys in English, Spanish and French; additional oral and written feedback through houses of worship; and community meetings.

Projects were identified to align with the community vision and to address community priorities. Medical care, education and infrastructure, including roads and inter-island transportation, were identified as top areas of most concern. Others priorities identified throughout the planning process are emergency shelters and shelters for women and children, along with other human services; waste management and recycling; better planning for Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, including walkability and beautification; and economic growth and diversification.

A community survey provided more detailed information on the needs and desires of the St. John Community. The full data is available upon request by emailing rachel@sjcf.org

All comments collected between now and Friday, Oct. 5, will be published as an addendum. The plan can be downloaded from www.sjcf.org/st-john-community-plan. Paper copies are located at Connections of St. John in Cruz Bay, the St. John Community Foundation, and the Coral Bay Community Council.

Community Survey Highlights

The St. John Community Survey received 545 responses, with over 80% of respondents identifying as year-round residents. Overall, the results showed strong support for the expansion of community facilities, expansion of recreation, arts, and learning opportunities, and an increase in resilience and readiness for this hurricane season.

Personal safety was a preeminent concern of the survey respondents, including uncertainty surrounding the status of community shelters. Additionally, despite storm season beginning while the survey was being administered, over two-thirds of respondents felt that they still needed additional preparations to be ready for the 2018 storm season, one-third were not sure they had a safe place to go during another hurricane, and one-fifth stated that they do not yet have a watertight roof.

More than half of those surveyed felt that their health care needs were not being met on-island. This is, however, an improvement over previous surveys. Almost all responses stated that on-island emergency services are a must. Other top priorities were primary care, X-rays and imaging, and improved emergency evacuation service; each was selected by over two-thirds of respondents.

Almost 98% of the respondents would like to participate in a recycling program. Respondents would like to see an expansion of community facilities, especially with regards to playgrounds and athletic facilities. In Cruz Bay, respondents indicated strong support for efforts to improve walkability and to keep litter off the streets. Write-in results indicate that many St. John residents would also like to see the library’s hours expanded to give students the opportunity to make use of the facilities in the evening. 

Over half of those surveyed would like to see an adult learning and training center on the island. The top choices for classes that they would like to see offered were sailing, art, general business, electrical trades, and building construction. There was also a high level of interest noted in the write-in responses for language classes, especially Spanish classes and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

Overall, the data collected in this survey appears to point toward a community beginning to recover, but also one that still needs a lot of help, especially among the most vulnerable populations. Nevertheless, the data provides a picture of a community that is hopeful and full of great ideas to improve itself and rebuild with greater resiliency. The Long Term Community Recovery Plan is a stepping-stone to realizing these desires.