The Federal Emergency Management Agency has partnered with the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico School of Architecture to develop a conceptual urban design plan for the Vieques ferry landing, the agency announced.
FEMA’s National Disaster Recovery Support division invited the university to participate in redesigning the landing area to create a more accessible and appealing entryway for tourists. The design project will improve pedestrian pathways to nearby Muñoz Rivera plaza.
The goal is to improve the economy and quality of life for the roughly 9,000 residents of the island nicknamed “Isla Nena,” or “Little Island,” located six miles off Puerto Rico’s southeast coast. Vieques is one of two offshore island municipalities in Puerto Rico; the other is Culebra.
An area of 52 square miles, Vieques is one of Puerto Rico’s major tourist attractions with a national wildlife refuge, Mosquito Bay nature reserve, a bioluminescent bay and feral horses roaming freely.
Ferries make a 75-minute trip from Fajardo, a municipality in Puerto Rico, to Vieques five times a day, docking at Puerto Isabel II along the north-central coast.
The FEMA division will provide technical expertise to the architecture students as they develop the new plan for the pier. Architects, urban planners and engineers with the division’s Community Planning and Capacity Building team will collaborate with the university to select students to work on the project and monitor its progress. As the project develops, the team will help identify potential funding sources when appropriate.
“Their work will help shape our island’s long-term recovery from Hurricane Maria,” said Vieques Mayor Alcalde Victor Emeric.
The design project is expected to be completed by June 2019.
“This is the kind of innovative partnership that we encourage. It’s a win-win for everyone,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Byrne, who is leading federal recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. “The students gain invaluable experience and the community is involved with improving their quality of life and preparedness for any future disasters.”