St. John villa management companies are questioning the VI. Port Authority’s charging for them to park in the handful of public parking spaces at the Loredon L. Boynes Ferry Dock in Cruz Bay or to meet arriving visitors at the dock.
V.I. Port Authority Officials have continued to have no comment on the mysterious collection of fees from villa rental company representatives meeting arriving clients at the Loredon L. Boynes Dock in Cruz Bay in late 2013
But the apparently unofficial practice appears to have been discontinued after villa companies questioned the authorization for the fee collection.
VIPA officials have been busy bringing taxi drivers under their control on the heels of taking over control of the waterfront taxi stand from the St. John Taxi Association earlier in 2013.
The taxi drivers objected to a daily fee instituted by VIPA when the agency took over the waterfront parking area used predominately as a taxi stand, but now that VIPA has the taxi stand under its control officials appear to be testing their authority over the three public parking spaces at the head of the ferry dock.
VIPA representatives first began collecting a daily fee from villa representatives who parked in the public spaces at the dock to meet guest late last year, according to greeters from several villa companies.
“Some people got receipts, some didn’t,” one villa rental representative acknowledged. “You can’t just charge one you have to charge everyone.”
Some villa owners are being charged per pick up, some are being charged once, and some are not being charged,” Bob Malacarne of Star Villas wrote in a February letter to Tradewinds. “Does this sound a little chaotic.”
Persons purporting to be VIPA employees subsequently sought to collect from villa representatives who had arranged to park at private Cruz Bay parking lots and were meeting arriving guests on foot to direct them to their rental homes or to rental car companies with signs identifying themselves as representatives of villa management companies.
“There is no charge for picking up visitors from the BVI at the Customs dock; there is no charge at the airport, at Red Hook or at the downtown ferry,” Malacarne continued. “The Port Authority has, obviously, not put much thought into or research into this ridiculous plan.”
Airport Car Rentals Recommended
Malacarne said villa rental agents are recommending customers rent vehicles at the St. Thomas airport and travel to St. John by barge instead of ferry which will impact St. John car rental agencies.
St. John Attorney Rafe Muilenberg sent a letter to VIPA Commissioner Carlton Dow and VIPA Chairman Robert O’Connor Jr. on behalf of the villa rental companies saying the agency was being discriminatory in not charging the fee for villa pick-ups on other islands or at other ports.
Representatives of villa companies also met with V.I. Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson and VIPA Chairman Robert O’Connor Jr. of St. John to express their concern about being unfairly singled out for payment of a pick-up fee.
The villa management companies simultaneously are trying to negotiate the use of the public parking spaces on Cruz Bay beach adjacent to the Battery, according to one company owner, who acknowledged villa arrivals are “mostly” between 3 and 6 p.m. and mostly Saturdays.”
The villa companies also have proposed that they take over the public parking adjacent to the rest rooms near the Battery complete with a tented greeting area, according the long-time villa rental company owner.