CORAL BAY — The former Sputnik’s bar and restaurant and Donkey Diner across from the former Guy H. Benjamin Elementary School in Coral Bay is taking shape under a major renovation by Scott Wilkies and Hillary Tittle, the owners of Rhumb Lines restaurant in downtown Cruz Bay.
The full renovation has included a complete new kitchen and opening the front of the combined space to allow an indoor and outdoor bar on the roadside patio.
Details of plans for the new restaurant are still forthcoming, but it will include pizza!
CORAL BAY — Armed with a $90,000 federal grant, Coral Bay Community Council officials hope to start removing the first of about 12 sunken vessels from Coral Bay harbor in January, according to the group’s new environmental programs associate.
“We want to start getting the boats out in January,” said Sean Richardson, CBCC’s recently hired Environmental Programs Associate, who is overseeing the group’s Marine Debris Removal Grant. “We hope to have things in place in terms of selecting a contractor by December.”
CBCC received $90,000 in grant funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program and NOAA’s Restoration Center to remove derelict vessels and clean along shorelines and mangroves.
With CBCC committing additional in-kind donations, the total project value of the grant reaches about $140,000. Of that total, however, only $60,000 will be used to remove sunken and derelict vessels, according to Richardson.
“The total for the grant is $90,000,” Richardson said. “For the boat removal we have about $60,000.”
The CBCC Environmental Programs Associate did not know how many of the estimated 12 derelict vessels currently in Coral Bay harbor could be removed with the $60,000.
“We actually have no idea right now about the number of vessels that can be removed,” said Richardson. “That depends on what the contractors say they will be able to do.”
CBCC will host a pre-Request for Proposal meeting with all potential contractors — who must be fully insured and have valid business licenses to qualify — on Thursday, October 30, at 10 a.m. at the group’s Coral Bay office. At the meeting, officials will introduce requirements and the scope of work for the project, according to a CBCC prepared statement.
V.I. Tax Assessor Ira Mills personally came out to meet with St. John taxpayers on Saturday morning October 11 at the Julius E. Sprauve School in Cruz Bay without the typical bureaucratic entourage to shield him from hoards of protesting property owners or any trepidation. Instead, the unassuming government official at the center of the maelstrom enveloping the new property evaluations and tax bills met with a dozen residents to explain what exemptions are available to reduce individual property tax bills – even if they have already paid a higher amount to receive the early payment discount.
CRUZ BAY — The Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, Senator at Large Craig Barshinger, along with Senator Myron Jackson, will conduct a meeting in the St. John Legislative Annex on Tuesday, October 28th.
"The property tax problem seems to be most severe on St. John. In fact, on St. Thomas and St. Croix, some property taxes have gone down since the last valid assessment in 1998," Barshinger noted. "Act 6991 may have to be changed"
I encourage you to come to the meeting, bringing your story and any solutions that you recommend," said Barshinger. "We want to hear from you."
V.I. Tax Assessor Ira Mills came to St. John on Saturday morning October 11, to face St. John taxpayers at the Julius E. Sprauve School and answer many questions.
But for the small group who came seeking relief, there was no immediate remedy, according to St. John Senator at Large Craig Barshinger, who has detailed steps for property owners to take if they are troubled by their property tax bills.
“If your bill shows a market value that is incorrect, go to the Tax Assessors Office and file an informal appeal,” Sen. Barshinger told constituents. “The Tax Assessor will re-evaluate your property and try to arrive at the true market value. That is, the amount your property would have sold for in 2013, had you put it on the market.“
If the informal appeal process does not work, property owners can file a formal appeal by December 15, the St. John senator added. If an individual’s property tax is unaffordable and the market value is accurate, legislation will be necessary to bring relief, according to Sen. Barshinger.
CRUZ BAY — The street level of the Cruz Bay building which includes Café Roma on the second floor is undergoing a major transformation for a new enterprise, Longboard, a restaurant by two men from Charlestown, South Carolina, according to long-time St. John contractor Charlie Roddy who is overseeing the project.
The enclosed steeet-side porch of the former Joe’s Diner had been stripped away by October 17 and work was progressing quickly to renovate the entire first floor, replacing the street-side deck and latticework enclosure with a new raised street-side dining area, according to Roddy. While observers were pleased to see the arches of the original masonry building which were uncovered in the facade demolition, the arches will not be retained in the new design, the contractor said.
Cruz Bay I, above left, was spotted in operation on Sunday, October 19.
CRUZ BAY — With the ferry franchises held by two St. Johnian-owned companies set to expire in 2016, Transportation Services restarted service with the vessel Cruz Bay 1, above at head of the Loredon L. Boynes pier in Cruz Bay, on Sunday, October 19.
Gov. John deJongh and the V.I. Public Works Department have worked to enable the two franchisees to put the multi-hulled VITRAN vessels into operation almost a year after their arrival in the territory. Gov. deJongh signed a subsidy agreement for the ferry companies on Tuesday afternoon, October 14, and PWD Commissioner Darryl Smalls promised the catamaran ferries would be in operation before the end of the month.
An official of Varlack Ventures, the other franchise operator, was not available for comment on when that company’s ferry, Red Hook 1, would be in operation, at press time.
The “Save Coral Bay” flip flop leaves a statement in the sand.
CORAL BAY — Within a week of being launched, the Fund to Save Coral Bay — an effort to raise $50,000 to finance a legal battle against the controversial recently approved Summers End Marina — reached more than $45,000 with contributions from almost 300 people by Sunday afternoon, October 19, including an anonymous $10,000 donation on Saturday, October 18.
“The amazing outpouring of support to Save Coral Bay validates what we all know — this is a resource to be cherished, to be nurtured, and to be protected from harm,” community activist Coral Bay resident David Silverman wrote last week on the campaign’s website, www.GoFundMe.com/coralbay. “Our heartfelt thanks goes to every single one of our contributors - you are ALL the family of Coral Bay!”
The website drew donations ranging from $5 to $10,000 and illustrated the fact that many people agree with the protestors of the proposed Summers End Marina, explained Silverman.
“It’s been pretty phenomenal,” he said. “The campaign has way exceeded our expectations. It’s doing really, really well.”
“In just five days we had over 200 contributors which doesn’t count funds which have been sent directly to the Coral Bay Community Council,” Silverman said. “This has really united people.”