New buildings under construction at the Crafts Alive Village.
Photo Credit: Clifton Skelton/BVI Platinum News
Fearful of victimization, vendors who once occupied the cruise ship dock area and others at the Crafts Alive Village are not willing to speak out publicly about the issues they are facing, but BVI Platinum News understands that there is growing discontent which has led to a meeting with Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. Orlando Smith.
Among the major concerns are the new plans to expand the Crafts Alive Village under the Crafts Alive Revitalization Project to accommodate vendors who had set up temporary stalls just outside the cruise dock and a decision by the Trade Department to increase rent for use of the Crafts Alive Village.
Another concern stemmed from the prolonged closure of the Crafts Alive Village to accommodate construction.
Letters signed by Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works, Arlene Smith-Thompson asked that the vendors vacate their stalls from July 16 to October 15.
Sources said that during meetings with Communications and Works Minister, Hon. Mark Vanterpool, a six-week timeframe was given for construction and now vendors are very concerned about revenue loss.
About three weeks ago, the vendors side-stepped the Works Minister with whom they have held previous meetings with and took their concerns to a meeting with Premier Smith.
Sources close to the vendors said they are still waiting to hear if any of their concerns will be addressed.
"I don't want to say anything publicly because I don't want any issue with the Government," one vendor told BVI Platinum News when approached.
Another said that she has been living in the Territory for years and was not prepared to start any problems for herself and family.
When contacted by telephone, another vendor suggested BVI Platinum News speak to other vendors since she has nothing to say, although she acknowledged that there are some contentious issues to be addressed.
It is Government's view that the project will also bring an end to the long-standing issue with the area referred to as 'tent city', where vendors had occupied the empty lot of land adjacent to the Road Town cruise ship dock.
It is Government's intention to turn the village into a central vending market. The project includes five new additional buildings and 39 more vending spaces. Currently, Crafts Alive has 14 buildings, 23 vendor spaces and restroom facilities.
Avaline Potter of A R Potter & Associates Ltd, the Architect on the project has stated that when Crafts Alive is developed, it will be well polished and not the kind of untidiness that currently exists.
A letter sent to vendors at Crafts Alive Village.
Photo Credit: Provided
In relation to the site design focus, Potter shared that the new plans will provide a pleasant pedestrian shopping environment; make provisions for transitory and gathering spaces in order to facilitate reasonable crowd control; and provide an outdoor amphitheatre to facilitate band performances and other cultural presentations.
Vendors were told that there will be architectural aesthetic to reflect BVI traditional architecture; wood siding; high roofs to help with keeping spaces cooler; many openings for doors and windows to help with cross-ventilation of the spaces; all windows will be carried down to the floor level to improve ventilation as well as encourage more natural light; and vendor spaces furnished with basic slatwall display wall panels for functionality.
They were also told that some of the main objectives of the development are for improved vendor/tourist encounter, improved aesthetics of the area, providing prominent pedestrian access to Main Street and better integrate craft market with Waterfront Drive.
Government is hoping to have all the vendors occupy Crafts Alive by November.