WAPA to consolidate offices

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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Water and Power Authority soon will change locations on St. Thomas and move their operations to a new, consolidated space in Four Winds Plaza.

After the utility's offices in Sub Base were destroyed by a fire in July 2012, the WAPA offices were split up between three separate locations.

The customer service, meter-reading, revenue assurance and collections divisions currently are in the Beltjen Road building. Other offices are located in Havensight and Altona.

"This was never intended to be a permanent solution. Our goal is to get back into one building," WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. told the WAPA governing board during its meeting Thursday.

The move to a new location was made more urgent when the Beltjen Place location was sold to Island Capital Management, and the utility was placed on a month-to-month lease. WAPA was asked to relocate by the end of 2014, according to documentation provided at Thursday's meeting.

Hodge said construction on the Beltjen Place property began Thursday, and a great number of parking spaces were lost to accommodate the activity.

"It's going to be a mess over there," Hodge said.

The board approved a three-year lease with Four Winds Plaza corporation for 7,900 square feet of office space with four options to renew at one year each.

The price per square foot is about $14.43, significantly cheaper than the $34.98 per square foot WAPA pays at the Beltjen Road building, the $16.23 per square foot in Altona and the $26.25 charged for the Havensight property.

The board also approved a $574,757 contract with Apex Construction to do the build-out for the Four Winds building, which Hodge said should take about 60 days.

The lease will begin June 1, with a rental charge of $9,500 per month. The rent will increase slightly in each year going forward.

In other business Thursday, the board:

- Approved a $213,992.98 expenditure for spare parts for Unit 24, a waste heat recovery boiler at the Richmond Power Plant on St. Croix.

- Authorized the payment of mandated Public Services Commission assessments in the amount of $120,000.

- Amended the contract with Public Resource Management Group, increasing the contract by $72,845.59 for a total contract cost of $372,937.59. The company provides financial consulting services to WAPA and assists in the utility's response to the Public Services Commission's reports on the electric and water LEAC filings.

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

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