Port Authority gets permits, moves ahead with half of Crown Bay dredging project

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ST. THOMAS - At least half of the Crown Bay dredging project has all required permits and is ready to move forward, V.I. Port Authority staff told the board Wednesday.

The Port Authority is on a tight deadline to have the project completed. If the dredging does not happen by the start of the tourist season in November, the port could lose 13 ship calls, representing a potential $18 million loss for the territory, according to Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe.

Dowe said the dredging project is split into two contracts, one for the Crown Bay marina and one for the East Gregorie Channel that leads into the marina.

The marina dredging project received its Army Corps of Engineers permit, and the contract was put out to bid, Dowe said.

One contractor responded, and the Port Authority is moving ahead to negotiate a contract with the company.

"We could do the marina right now," Dowe told The Daily News.

The channel dredging permit is still in process, he said. The latest news was that it was only waiting for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries approval before the Army Corps could grant the permit, according to Dowe.

He said Gov. John deJongh Jr. and Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen have been helping to pressure the federal agencies to move the permit along.

The channel dredging Request for Proposals is still out and the port is awaiting responses, according to Dowe. It would be faster if the same contractor could do both parts of the project, but Dowe said he will have to wait and see who responds.

As for meeting the November deadline, Dowe said he is still hoping it can be done.

"If we get the permit, we're still optimistic that we could get it," he said.

Director of Engineering Dale Gregory said the marina dredging will take about four weeks, and the channel dredging will take about eight weeks.

In other business Wednesday, the Port Authority board:

- Endorsed the memorandum of understanding between the Port Authority and the V.I. Housing Authority to develop the land above Bournefield. The Housing Authority would lease the land and work with a developer to build low-income housing.

- Agreed to take a $550,000 settlement offer from the insurance company for the fire damaged building in Sub Base that used to house the V.I. Water and Power Authority's offices. The Port Authority had been awarded $1.9 million but only received $1.3 million and was seeking the remaining $624,593. The board accepted the offer of $550,000 to close out the claim.

- Ratified a poll vote taken in between last month's meeting and Wednesday's regular meeting. The board voted to assign a lease formerly held by Charaf & Company on a Port Authority-owned parcel in Frenchtown to a new lease-holder, Jeff Pickett.

- Approved a two-year lease for storage space at Monsanto Marine terminal in Crown Bay for a current Crown Bay tenant, Big Horn, doing business as Caribana. The 787 square feet of space will have a $1,400 monthly rent.

- Approved the issuance of a Request for Proposals for the operation of the drag racing strip at Estate Bethlehem Middle Works, St. Croix.

- Approved transferring funds to pay for the replacement of a broken elevator at King Airport. The proposed cost for the project is $99,000.

- Approved a $184,864.48 change order for Island Roads Corporation to cover unforeseen conditions during the King Airport apron rehabilitation project, specifically unsuitable clay material under the existing apron that must be removed and replaced with fill.

- Approved a $117,610 contract to URS Caribe for the design of a fire suppression system at King Airport's terminal building.

- Approved an $89,505 contract with URS Caribe for the design of a fire suppression system at King Airport's general aviation building.

- Approved a $92,496 contract with URS Caribe for the design of a fire suppression system at King Airport's cargo building.

- Approved the use of in-house staff and contract labor to repair and replace sections of the perimeter fencing at Rohlsen Airport to meet Transportation Security Administration compliance standards. The project is expected to cost $75,166.96.

- Adopted an Information Technology Resource Regulations and Acceptable Use Policy to establish appropriate behavior of Port Authority staff as they use the agency's technology.

- Approved keeping the sign at Rohlsen Airport acknowledging Tim Duncan just in his honor and not changing it out to recognize other local athletes.

- Approved reprogramming $200,000 for the purchase of a new back-up generator for Rohlsen Airport.

- Amended a contract with Alpha Risk Management to expand scope of services - paying them an additional $96,000 - to continue the risk management consulting that already has saved the Port Authority more than $1 million, according to chief financial officer Valdamier Collens.

- Established parameters for negotiations with the marine union.

- Accepted a salary increase sufficient to resolve the union negotiations with the Port Authority fire fighters.

- Authorized the board chairman to create ad hoc committees.

- Heard a challenge from a bidder on the solar energy project at Rohlsen Airport and denied the claim. The contract has not yet been awarded.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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