Volunteers fill potholes on Coki Point road

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ST. THOMAS - The Smith Bay community got tired of waiting, so they started working.

On Friday evening, a dozen or so volunteers decided to fill a stretch of potholes that has pocked one of its roads most-traveled by residents and tourists headed to Coral World and Coki Point beach, two popular St. Thomas attractions.

"We got to do better than we're doing," said Roy Chesterfield, president of Smith Bay Community Action Foundation. "It's not enough, but it's better than nothing."

Volunteers took up shovels and rakes, leveling out a truckload of gravel into the large, deep potholes that had been eroded during the last six or so years, residents said.

"If I am walking here, I have to walk through this," said Avanelle Alcendor, pointing to the loose rubble and pools of water spread across the road, half of which was covered in stagnant water at the time.

The road is worn down not only by heavy traffic, but also by water that is attempting to take its natural path through the wetland.

"It's important for us to realize why we have a problem," said Jason Budsan, president of the V.I. Conservation Society.

The area that the road passes through, Budsan said, is a natural watershed that has been built up and blocked off, forcing the water to pool at the base of the road, where vehicles and pedestrians pass over.

Local residents have constructed makeshift bridges to cross the muddiest sections, but it does not suffice, said some of the people who live in the area.

"Our government is failing to do what they are supposed to do," Chesterfield said.

Chesterfield, who organized the project with the rest of the foundation, said that the office of Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone donated the truckload of gravel, and the V.I. Port Authority donated two truckloads of asphalt.

The Smith Bay Community Action Foundation formed in 2010 in an effort to begin a grassroots effort to clean up the community. Thus far, its projects have ranged from repairing potholes to beautifying run-down parks, recreational areas and abandoned buildings.

The next step, Chesterfield said, is to gather the entire Smith Bay community in an effort to place signage in the community and assign addresses to all the residents.

"We will take matters into our own hands if we have to," Chesterfield said.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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