Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and Lt. Gov. Tregenza A. Roach met Wednesday night with Water Island residents at a virtual town hall meeting to hear their concerns and provide solutions to issues raised, Government House said in a statement released Thursday night.
About 50 residents, including David Rosselle, president of the Water Island Civic Association, were in attendance at the meeting organized by St. Thomas-Water Island Administrator Avery Lewis.
Rosselle, according to the statement, asked Bryan about his short-term and long-term plans for the island. Bryan mentioned planned projects such as a hotel and marina that “will transform Water Island” as well as enhancing Honeymoon Beach access for tourists while maintaining safe and secure access for residents.
Cleaning out sunken vessels from the lagoon, increasing moorings and ensuring adequate anchoring for residents were also mentioned.
Meeting participants raised a host of issues of concern including the V.I. Water and Power Authority reliability, internet connectivity, landing spaces for residents’ boats on St. Thomas, road repairs, upgrading the commuter dock, police response to emergencies and repairs to the fire station among others.
Bryan, the release stated, “offered assistance and solutions for a number of the issues residents raised, and he told them he will increase internet access, address commuter ferry availability, purchase a fire boat and find funding for repairs to the fire station.” He also promised to clear the sunken and wrecked vessels around the island, “address security concerns at Honeymoon Beach and make sure that Water Island residents have a voice in the planning that is arising for the territory as a result of President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.” According to the statement, Public Works Commissioner Derek Gabriel said work is scheduled within the next 60 days for road and dock repairs and “anticipates that most of their projects on Water Island would be completed by the end of next year.”
Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol told residents that DPNR is in the process of creating designated mooring areas for residents while also providing controlled access points for boats to come in, drop off visitors and use day mooring passes.
In addition to Gabriel and Oriol, other agency heads participating in the virtual meeting were V.I. Police Deputy Commissioner Mario Brooks, Waste Management Authority Executive Director Roger Merritt, Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte, Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Richard Evangelista, and Sports, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Calvert White.