VITAL Partners

Since inception VITAL was advised that community projects work better when included in a comprehensive plan.  Seeking, competing and being selected to receive technical assistance from the NPS, RTCA (River, Trails and Conservation Assistance), through the Dept. of the Interior, via an application, set our team on a multi-focal, collaborative, transparent and inclusive track. 

The true judge of the need and breadth of a project is the absence of negative forces.  From the onset our projects have been received positively by government, local leaders and residents.  Our vision has been expanded due to the well documented need that exists related to the lack of pedestrian supported infrastructure for the Islands, and its associated evidence of advancing chronic disease amongst our population and the economic downturn as well as the destruction of the hurricanes of 2017. 

Prior to the hurricanes there was no hope to find funding for these projects, but with all devastation comes opportunities.  New funding has been allocated for our Territory, many shovel ready projects that have been planned by the people who came before us are now fundable.  As our role develops, we are identifying the need to be the collaborating factor.  We started due to the need of the people, we continue to represent the people and we are determined to follow the vision that will support the people and future generations.

Through the application process VITAL gathered broad community support.  Some of these partners have remained as supporters waiting for an opportunity to advance to partnership as the need arises.  Other groups have risen to the status of Valued Partners as we carry the Vision of creating Pathways, Trails, and Parks around St. Croix and then the Territory.

VITAL has made application for 5013C status and have been accepted as a project of the St. Croix Foundation who also provide valued fiduciary assistance.  They sponsor applications on behalf of VITAL and partners to varied sources.

The Dept. of Agriculture Commissioner, Carlos Robles and the Senate Majority Leader, Neville James were both founders of this community Initiative. 

The Dept. of Public Works through Commissioner Petty, Assistant Commissioner Brow and staff have been working in full partnership to advance the projects and are co-applicants on several of VITAL applications including the successful application for the 50 Acre Land Acquisition for Public Park and Conservation Project, along with a successful SHIPPO Application for an Archeology Grant for the 14 Mile South Shore Pathway Project.  They continue to support our projects and are a major member of the Steering Committee for planning of new pathways.

VITAL remains a valued member of the Dept. of Health and CDC supported Walkability Island Teams and through collaboration the VITAL pathway projects were formally presented along with the Walkability report with guiding principles for recovery and resiliency to the Governor’s Task Force Post Hurricanes.  This work ensured that the community initiatives were included in the recommendations report to the Governor.

AARP of the Virgin Islands focus is for “improving Transportation for people of all ages” and is actively working with the Walkability Teams and VITAL.  AARP is drafting legislation for Complete Streets for the Virgin Islands with guidance from the Complete Streets advisors through AARP.  This legislation when developed with create law instructing future infrastructure developers to consider pedestrian, ADA, and Transit needs to be equal to vehicle needs when building or repairing infrastructure and roads.

Immediately Post Hurricane VITALs board member, Barbara Walsh became an active member of the St. Croix Community Recovery Team.  VITAL initiatives have risen to a high status through this work and are included in the recently released report that was generated from the people across the Territory.  VITAL continues to be a valued member of this initiative seeking ways to advance projects and funding sources as well as collaboration within the community.

The Cruzan Pathways Inc. were successful to advance the 14-mile South Shore Pathway to a shovel ready project status and the project is now on the DPW approved projects list.  They endorse VITAL’s work to find funding for the project and continue to support other pathway projects.

The Housing Finance Authority, HFA have recognized the value of the concept plans developed by VITAL and foresee funding “the Planning of Future Concept Projects for St. Croix”.  In anticipation VITAL has initiated the process to develop a Steering Committee comprised to key Project leaders.  VITAL supports other projects and believes that “A Win for One is a Win of All”.

Over the last year VITAL has gained the support of various organizations and sporting groups as well as residents.  Each day new supporters are identified.  Vital also received an award from the Prior Family Foundation and the University of Miami for our concept plan.  The Concept Plan was noted to be a strong economic driver for entrepreneurial and innovation opportunity in the post hurricane recovery.

The concept plan has divided the Island into workable project segments.  Each section has unique requirements from surface types, length, purpose and connecting places for daily living as well as Historical and Cultural significance.  VITAL is working on all segments equally.  Priority will be decided on funding and feasibility.  When all the segments are completed the new pedestrian infrastructure will be created.  We are constantly looking for new opportunities.  We are seeking information on projects along ghuts in the territory, working with WAPA and fiber optic groups to build pathways when lines are buried.  We seek land owners willing to allow pathways to cross property lines.  We urge the community to be charitable and to use assets for the betterment of all.  Donations of time, dollars and expertise are all valued.  Together we can make a difference, we can change the way people move and communicate, reducing the isolation that limits us and give opportunities to those who need them the most.  We thank you for your support.

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