FREDERIKSTED — Members of the Committee on Disaster Recovery and Infrastructure, chaired by Senator Janelle K. Sarauw, convened in a meeting at the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room, St. Croix. Lawmakers received updates on capital projects in the Virgin Islands regarding contracts, professional service, and task order contracts. The Committee invited officials from the Office of Disaster Recovery (ODR), the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority (VIPFA), the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement, and Witt O’Brien.
The Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne Williams-Octalien shared an update and indicated that there are a total of 1500 active projects and out of that 1325 have been obligated totaling $3.3 million. The process to launch these projects are inclusive of finalizing contracts, permits, partnering with agencies, and drawing funds. Williams-Octalien further noted that regarding the Health and Hospitals Industry, the scope of work includes restoring permanent hospital recovery projects such as finalizing the construction of the mechanical building at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital by August 2022 and designing a permanent facility for the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital pending FEMA’s approval.
Additional projects are modernizing public schools in the St. Thomas-St. John District and the St. Croix District. For example, the Glady’s Abraham Elementary School Modernization Project is slated to be completed by April 2022. Meanwhile, five buildings are scheduled for March 2022 for the demolition at the Charlotte Amalie High School since ODR was granted FEMA environmental approval, according to Williams-Octalien. VIPFA Commissioner Bosede Bruce indicated that these projects are vital to the continuous work to upgrade and maintain the existing infrastructure in the Virgin Islands.
Regarding the roads and transportation, although the Department of Public Works completed the scopes of work for roadways in the St. Thomas-St. John District, construction is delayed pending approval from FEMA’s Environmental and Historic Preservation, according to Williams-Octalien. Furthermore, the Design/Build Project Territorywide has already commenced. In response to Senator Sarauw’s inquiry about the completion of the design phase, Williams-Octalien stated the funds awarded by FEMA for the fixed cost will determine the size of the blueprint for buildings and facilities during the design phase.
Sharing the status of the utilities, Williams-Octalien mentioned that the implementation of the Transformation Plan for Water and Power Authority is ongoing. The total cost to revitalize the system is $742 million for repairs and mitigation projects. Separately, the process for the Virgin Islands Housing Authority redevelopment portfolio is focusing on permanently replacing 1500 aging housing units throughout the Virgin Islands.
Senators attending today’s meeting: Janelle K. Sarauw, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Genevieve R. Whitaker, Kurt A. Vialet, Milton E. Potter, Franklin D. Johnson, Samuel Carrion, Carla J. Joseph, and Marvin A. Blyden.