Road Town, as the territory’s capital and the “economic engine” of the Virgin Islands, needs to move way up on government’s list of priorities, and that’s what Mark Vanterpool plans to do if he’s elected to represent the Fourth District, he told residents who attended the National Democratic Party’s “grand rally” Saturday night.

The current government, Mr. Vanterpool said, has neglected Road Town and the Fourth District, which has resulted in “great economic activity being lost.”

To get Road Town to “look, feel, and, my God, smell like a capital city,” Mr. Vanterpool, who calls himself “The Action Man,” said he hopes to get rid of the Wickhams Cay Development Authority and create a City Development and Management Board. This body, he said, would be responsible for all development from Gene Hill to Slaney, even though this broad area — the same covered in the Road Town Development Plan — includes parts of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Districts.

“There will be no other conflicting boards or groups, ladies and gentlemen, with the development of the capital,” Mr. Vanterpool said.

He added that he envisions Main Street as a cobblestoned, shade-tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly path to help visitors and residents appreciate the territory’s historic churches and the former prison.

“This is the most quaint, historical part of our town, and we must preserve it and we must make it a more active commercial part of our town,” Mr. Vanterpool said.

The candidate also has plans for the seaward development of Road Town.

“We must build a proper fisherman’s wharf,” Mr. Vanterpool said, adding that the development must preserve the area’s mangrove trees.

Vendors at the cruise ship dock should be given an attractive space to sell their goods, which will, in turn, bring more money to the territory, Mr. Vanterpool said.

“This is Road Town. It should not have open and unkempt spaces like the one over by the cruise ship dock,” he said.

He also told attendees that they should “get ready to own” the cruise ship port, rather than having that pier in the hands of the BVI Ports Authority, a body he said is “sitting on it and doing nothing.”

Mr. Vanterpool also said it is time for the territory to have a “national debate” on the future direction and growth of the territory, a discussion he said should include residents and investors here and abroad.

And in all this future development, Mr. Vanterpool said, work should be handled by VI contractors. Mr. Vanterpool said the territory often has to borrow development funds, and that money should stay in the territory, even if it means breaking up loans into smaller amounts or turning down some loans.

Former legislator

In an introduction to Mr. Vanterpool, Kishma Baronville praised the candidate as being responsible for many projects in Road Town, including restoring the Sunday Morning Well, paving dusty parking lots and setting up the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park and Crafts Alive Village.

“You cannot walk around the district without seeing his accomplishments from 1999 to 2007,” Ms. Baronville said.

Mr. Vanterpool has represented the Fourth District for two terms in the House of Assembly. He was first elected with the NDP, a party he helped bring to the House in 1999. Mr. Vanterpool later crossed the aisle, joining the Virgin Islands Party in 2001, and was elected with that party in the 2003 election. By the time of the 2007 election, Mr. Vanterpool had switched back to the NDP. He lost his bid for an at-large seat that year.

All 12 of the NDP’s candidates spoke at the Saturday rally, with each tackling a separate issue. At-large candidate Myron Walwyn spoke on improving tourism and reducing crime, while Archibald “Archie” Christian spoke about “greening” the territory with a bus system and recycling programme.

Former Finance Minister Ronnie Skelton, who is running at large again, told the crowd about some accomplishments he attributed to the former NDP government, such as adding $26 million to the territory’s reserves and establishing public parks such as those at Long Bay, Beef Island and Sandy Spit.

Marlon Penn, a candidate for the Eighth District, told the crowd about the former government’s low-income housing programme and the plan to reintroduce it.

NDP President Dr. Orlando Smith reiterated some of the party’s previously stated plans, including expanding the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport; establishing a hospitality training school at Prospect Reef; opening a second high school, a trade school and junior high schools; and completing the national health insurance system. Dr. Smith also repeated the party’s goal of cleaning up the territory and spending more to promote the VI abroad.

Dr. Smith especially wants to see historic sites cleaned up to the point where tourists can visit them, he said.