Rivera-O'Reilly pushing for new water park study
Published: July 16, 2012
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ST. CROIX - The Senate Economic Development, Technology and Agriculture Committee will take up a bill today that the sponsor hopes will renew discussion on the possibility of developing a water and adventure park on St. Croix.
The legislation would authorize the V.I. Public Finance Authority to solicit proposals for such a project.
Bill sponsor Sen. Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly said she hopes the legislation sparks interest and discussion. The idea to explore the feasibility of developing a cultural/historical/ecological water and adventure theme park to help revive tourism on St. Croix started with the V.I. Port Authority in the early 2000s, Rivera-O'Reilly said.
The Port Authority had a feasibility study done on the idea in 2003 but did not pursue the idea further, she said.
Rivera-O'Reilly said she came across the feasibility study in 2010 and met with the stateside company that conducted it. She passed along the information to the executive branch through a special assistant to the governor, she said. She also has spoken to the Port Authority.
When HOVENSA announced in January that it would be ceasing refining operations, Rivera-O'Reilly said she thought of the theme park idea as a possibility for "trying to see how we may restart the St. Croix economy."
Sen. Ronald Russell and Sen. Sammuel Sanes also are sponsors of the legislation.
While the Public Finance Authority does not need the Legislature's approval to solicit proposals for any project, Rivera-O'Reilly said she hopes the bill discussion sparks some interest.
"The PFA can do it if they want to do it," she said. "I'm hoping at least having the discussion will generate some interest."
A video showing the possibilities of an adventure park on St. Croix - a video that Rivera-O'Reilly's office posted on You Tube as she was trying to get feedback from various local groups - was provided by the company that did the 2003 feasibility study, she said.
The video can be seen at: http://youtu.be/olBWLyHx5mw.
Rivera-O'Reilly also distributed a link to an online survey about the water park idea. The survey is at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6S2SQFH.
"That was all part of the feasibility study that was done," she said. "It's a video. I'm just trying to show people the possibilities. This is a futuristic look at what is possible."
While she does not know whether developers would be interested in the idea, Rivera-O'Reilly said she feels the idea is worth discussing, particularly because the Port Authority paid for the feasibility study several years ago.
She said that it would take another $100,000 to update and revise the study, which no longer is current.