V.I. Government accepts GEC's proposal for Paul E. Joseph Stadium reconstruction


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ST. CROIX - The V.I. government has selected a proposal from General Engineering Corp., or GEC, for the demolition and reconstruction of the Paul E. Joseph Stadium in Frederiksted - a step toward starting to rebuild the ball park.

The government still is in the process of negotiating the specifics on a design-and-build contract with GEC for the project, which is expected to cost approximately $20 million, Government House spokesman Jean Greaux Jr. said in written response to a Daily News inquiry.

More than a year has passed since the request for proposals on the project was reissued.

Sports, Parks and Recreation Commissioner St. Claire Williams said Friday that the lengthy time to decide on the winning proposal had to do with the procurement process, including presentations and discussions, along with background checks conducted by the Property and Procurement Department.

Williams said he did not know how long it would take to negotiate the contract, nor did he know how long it would take to complete the new stadium development once the contract is in place and executed. The contract will lay out that information, he said.

The project involves tearing down the old stadium and redeveloping the area.

According to Greaux's statement, the redevelopment of the stadium is to include:

- A 3,500-seat AAA baseball stadium with multi-use capabilities, including concerts.

- A 750-seat Little League field, associated lighting, press box and other amenities.

- An entry plaza with ticket booths, restrooms, concession buildings, an open pavilion and energy efficient lighting, a locker and maintenance building with locker room.

- A permanent St. Croix Christmas Carnival Village with 10 permanent concession/vending booths and 10 permanent slab foundations with utility hookups for power, water and sewer for temporary vendor-installed vending booths.

GEC has extensive experience in general contracting in the territory.

The government, according to Greaux, received a pair of responses to its RFP, and a committee that included representatives from the Sports, Parks and Recreation and Property and Procurement departments selected the GEC proposal as the winning bid last month.

The current plan for the stadium is significantly scaled back from the 2012 plan, which involved a $55 million comprehensive sports complex development in Frederiksted that was to include stadiums for baseball, tennis/volleyball and swimming, along with a Festival Village Park. The 2012 plan had been touted as a boon for sports tourism.

The 2012 proposed agreement, which required approval from the 29th Legislature, had called for the government to put up $30 million in taxpayer money and for private-sector partners to put up the remaining $25 million.

A Senate committee put the brakes on that proposal - tabling it indefinitely - after The Daily News published an investigative report that found some of the off-island contractors the government intended to partner with had misrepresented credentials and connections; amassed a history of financial troubles, foreclosures and failures that cast doubt on their ability to provide funds for the project; and had earned the distrust of some stateside governments.

For that RFP, GEC had actually gotten the initial nod from the selection committee when the government decided that the proposal from an off-island company named Globevest LLC - which included the tennis/volleyball and swimming stadium - would be more advantageous to the government.

Eventually, the government asked GEC and Globevest to meld their proposals into one, which they agreed to do and formed the company Globevest V.I.

Greaux would not name the other company that submitted a proposal during the current RFP process - but he said it was not Globevest.

Although Williams said last year he hoped the reissued RFP would bring additional ideas and financing to the table, he said Friday that did not happen.

During its meeting Friday, the V.I. Public Finance Authority discussed the status of the Paul E. Joseph proposal - which would be financed through bonding that already has been approved by the Legislature - but wound up not taking action and is requesting more information from Williams.

PFA Executive Director and V.I. Finance Commissioner Angel Dawson Jr. said the funding source for the bonding is the Community Facilities Trust Fund, part of the rum cover-over revenues coming to the territory as a result of its agreement with rum producer Diageo.

The funding available for the project includes more than $17 million in bonding that already has gotten Legislative approval; $2 million from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund; and $1.7 million in funding the Public Finance Authority already has, Dawson said.

The Public Finance Authority is likely to consider moving forward with the bond issuance at the agency's next meeting, after receiving the information, according to a prepared statement Government House issued Friday.

Gov. John DeJongh Jr. said in the statement that the Public Finance Authority also wants to use the additional time to get a better understanding of the progress being made by the V.I. Housing Finance Authority and its task force on the development of a multi-purpose indoor sports facility at Mars Hill in Frederiksted.

The legislative approval for bonding for the redevelopment of Paul E. Joseph Stadium also included approval for bonding to construct the Mars Hill facility.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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