St. Croix News: Phase 2 initiated for Revitalizing Frederiksted!
ST. CROIX — A grand groundbreaking was recently held for the Paul E. Joseph Stadium, a project that commenced some 15 years ago, with the aim of revitalizing Frederiksted.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Pedro Cruz, whose department has a vested interest in the project’s development, thanked the Governor for securing the needed funds for this project, which he believes will give the people of St. Croix a very good and long-lasting product which residents and visitors will enjoy for many generations to come.
Stacy Plaskett, St Croix’s delegate to Congress, also spoke of the potential impact of sports tourism on St. Croix’s economy. “This project is a true commitment to the fortitude and development of the future of the entire Virgin Islands,” she said.
General Engineering Corporation (G.E.C.) President John Wessel spoke of the expanded vision of the governor, and how the project had changed in scope compared to when G.E.C. was originally contracted under the de Jongh administration to build the stadium. “It is truly a remarkable difference between what was originally contracted and what is going to be built,” Mr. Wessel said. He revealed that the designs that were on display were not simply pretty pictures, “These pictures are the results of two years of hard design work,” he said. Mr. Wessel said the stadium was designed by the company that designed the new ballpark for the New York Yankees, the Populous design group.
The project will most likely be completed beyond Mr. Mapp’s first term in office. Mr. Wessel said his company will work with the Department of Labor to ensure that abled locals receive employment.
G.E.C., Mr. Wessel also made known, was founded 50 years ago in the territory, and has worked exclusive within the islands. “Our motto, and we plan to keep it with this project, is ‘building the Virgin Islands with Virgin Islanders,’” he concluded.
Harvey Sasso, president of Coastal Systems Development, Inc., spoke of how the project came together after officials had listened to the Frederiksted community’s desires. The end result of the first phase is the beauty that is the Frederiksted waterfront today, which includes the Verne Richards Veterans Park, Strand Street, the waterfront parks, the Eliza James-McBean Clock Tower, and the Ann E. Abramson Pier.
The stadium represents phase two of the revitalization effort. Mr. Mapp expressed confidence in the final design after over two years of delay, stating that the project was more than a stadium, representing a far broader vision for the west town. “We’re not trying to build a stadium, we’re trying to revitalize, from an economic perspective, the town of Frederiskted and the island of St. Croix,” he said. Mr. Mapp said the stadium, once done, will serve not only as an attraction for tourists (he expects sports tourism to takeoff in a big way way, and said that multiple U.S. college sports organizations that are part of the NCAA have expressed strong interest in visiting the territory for training), but also for residents of the territory, whose families are raised here.
The stadium will cost just over $20 million, as the Senate recently approved an additional $480,000. Mr. Mapp spoke of an additional $7 million for another extension, telling senators at yesterday’s event that he knew where the funds would come from.