Mahogany cut down at Havensight Mall
Published: October 22, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - The last mahogany tree slated for the chopping block in Havensight was felled Sunday.
V.I. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said the tree had to be removed to allow larger vehicles to turn into and out of the Port of Sale Mall.
It will be the last mahogany tree to be removed as part of the Long Bay Road project, according to Smalls.
Last year, five large mahogany trees were removed as part of the road construction, which will widen the road through Havensight to four lanes to reduce traffic congestion.
At the time, Smalls said he did not foresee any more tree removal, but Sunday night, road crews took a chainsaw to another mahogany.
"We remain committed to maintaining all the tress in that area and the decision to remove this tree is based solely on the safety of the motoring public," Smalls said Monday.
The wood is government property, and Smalls has said from the beginning that the wood is to be used for either government purposes or given to youth-related nonprofits or local woodworkers.
Under the contract for the road work - phase three of the Long Bay Road expansion project - the contractor has specific instructions for handling the wood. The contractor for the project is V.I. Paving, and the contract is between V.I. Paving and Eastern Federal Lands in conjunction with Public Works.
Eastern Federal Lands is a federal entity under the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration and is charged with monitoring and managing federal road projects.
The contract dictates that only the individual mahogany trees designated in the plans are to be removed.
According to the contract, the trees must be removed so that the wood remains in usable condition.
"Cut mahogany tree trunks and branches that are 8" in diameter or larger into the longest section that can still be transported," the contract states.
The cut trees must be delivered to a designated Public Works storage site, according to the contract.
When work first began on phase three of the Long Bay Road expansion project, residents concerned about the fate of the mahogany trees - some of which had been marked with an "x" in red spray paint - stood out along the roadway in protest.
Since then, six trees have been removed.
Two lanes of new road have been opened for motorists while the old road is under construction.
At the end of the project, the remaining mahogany trees will populate a landscaped median in between the four lane road, according to Smalls.
The mahogany trees are less than 100 years old, according to Carlos Robles, of the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.