Above: St Thomas
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The US Virgin Islands will beginning work Feb. 11 on a planned revitalization project of downtown Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas.
USVI officials met last week to discuss the project with merchants and retailers.
The move comes after the US’ FEMA did not grant the territory a requested 12-month extension to begin the work, which would have given the territory the opportunity to delay the start of the project until the end of the tourist season.
The project is a “complex undertaking,” according to USVI Governor John de Jongh, who said it required “tremendous coordination with our federal partners and a number of local agencies.”
Funding for the project was first made available in 2008, with a five-year shelf life.
De Jongh said that while he and other officials were cognizant of that fact, they wrote a letter to FEMA’s Caribbean Division seeking the extension.
“FEMA did not approve my request and advised the government that the monies would expire on June 30 whether the funds were obligated or not,” he said. “This means that we must initiate the project so as to meet the deadlines and not lose the investment.”
The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s project to bury power lines downtown will cost $2.1 million, of which FEMA is funding $1.6 million.
The project will include improvement of streets and sidewalks, installing a telecommunications and data system and improving the storm and wastewater system, among others.