ST. THOMAS — At a Savan community town hall meeting, residents received updates on projects in the community and learned about a new solar energy program that can help keep the lights on during a blackout.
On Thursday evening, around 20 Savaneros met at the Romeo Malone Community Center, along with the Sports, Park and Recreation Commissioner Calvert White, Sen. Janelle Sarauw and Sen. Dwayne DeGraff.
Executive Director of Community Action Now Iffat Walker led the meeting, and gave updates on programs the organization has been facilitating throughout the summer. The programs include a workforce development program, a youth summer program and a diversion and re-entry program for at-risk young adults, NewRock VI YouthBuild.
A hot topic for the community, the Savan basketball court, was revisited. Commissioner White clarified that the court is under the jurisdiction of V.I. Housing Finance Authority, and that an issue with a contractor is partially responsible for a delay in the project.
“There were some issues with the contractor that was hired. We saw that the bleachers they put out there were from another facility — they were not brand new bleachers — so that contract was terminated,” White said.
Sports, Parks and Recreation is preparing to resurface 20 courts in the territory, and if there is funding leftover from that project, the Savan court will be a priority, he said.
“If that project is not started by the time we finish our courts, we have already committed that we will add the Savan court as part of our project,” White said.
Sen. DeGraff reported the V.I. Housing Finance Authority has sent the basketball court project contract out for bid, but there is still no clear date on when work will begin.
Jason Budsan and Don Moreland, from Solarize St. Thomas presented their organization’s new initiative, Share the Sun, which aims to bring solar energy to low and middle income families on the island.
Solarize St. Thomas is a public-private initiative that provides solar energy through crowdsourcing to offset the initial price of installation.
The Share the Sun program provides two options for St. Thomas residents who are interested in investing in a solar panel unit. There are 10 permanent units available for homeowners, and there are 47 mobile units available for those renting homes.
“These are designed to get you through a blackout, or to get you through a storm, there’s a battery inside, you can plug in your devices, phones, your refrigerator, fans,” Moreland explained.
For those who are income qualified, the mobile units will cost no more than $350. Energy generated by the solar panels can also be used to offset the cost of Water and Power Authority power bills.
Community Action Now is asking Savan residents interested in a solar panel unit to make an appointment with the office to provide documents to prove income qualification.
“This is an amazing opportunity, and I’m bringing it to Savan because I want you to take advantage of it,” Walker said.
Budson also announced the organization would donate one of the portable solar units to the Romeo Malone Community Center.
On Monday, Walker reported five application appointments for the solar energy units had already been completed. Walker’s goal is to install at least 25 of the units to the Savan neighborhood.
The next Savan Community town hall meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Aug. 26, and will be cover disaster preparedness.
For more information on Community Action Now call 340-474-1510.