Vieques Sustainable Economic Dev’t Council presents multi-action plan
The Vieques Sustainable Economic Development Council — created earlier this year to move the economy of the island municipality forward — presented to Gov. Pedro Pierluisi a multi-strategy plan to develop tourism, jobs, improve transportation, health, infrastructure, energy, security, education, and special projects.
One of the steps taken by the Council is to recommend that the Maritime Transportation Authority (ATM, in Spanish) evaluate the possibility of continuing with maritime cargo transportation services through the “Marilyn H.” cargo barge.
The barge was contracted in April 2021 due to an emergency to solve the problem that another cargo vessel, the “Isleño,” had. However, the Council stated that use of “Marilyn H.” “has benefited Vieques merchants and residents, as it has a higher load capacity than other vessels.”
Cargo and passenger traffic is a key concern for island residents.
The plan also includes an explanation of the construction phases of the Vieques Hospital, which already has a conceptual design, evaluated, and approved by both the municipality and the Department of Health and the executive branch at La Fortaleza.
At this stage, the project is in environmental studies to begin the demolition of the structure, that was destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and María in 2017 and which will begin this year.
The Council also proposed the construction of lodging facilities to house public officials who will serve in Vieques, to be able “to make their work easier.” Officials who could benefit from these facilities include public employees working in the areas of health, safety, and education.
“Viequenses deserve to have essential quality service and the necessary tools to promote our socioeconomic potential, and this administration is working as a team to achieve this,” said Vieques Mayor José Corcino, who chairs the Council.
Meanwhile, the Council reported the conceptualization of a recreational marina project and berthing services for sports boats, with the goal of creating economic movement in the town’s La Esperanza sector.
Marina services would provide fuel facilities for boats, a boat ramp, as well as restaurants and shops. It would also have parking, use of common areas and a clubhouse for showers, among other proposals. The marina would also provide water taxi services between the shore and the boats moored on buoys to transport visitors using the buoy or mooring facilities.
Meanwhile, in the academic area, the increase in occupational offerings at the Germán Rieckehoff High School is being sought to temper them to the labor demand in Vieques, in line with infrastructure and economic development projects that the island municipality will have in coming years.
A proposal is also in the works to increase bilingual offerings in elementary schools so that students can learn Spanish and English, according to the Council. Vieques has a significant English-speaking community.
Finally, the Council proposed the replacement of the submarine cable that supplies energy to the island, the development of renewable energy projects, as well as a pilot project for the use of electric vehicles in Vieques.