9-Year-Old Boy Dies After Being Shot in Head in Croixville Housing Community; Police Detain 15-Year-Old

Concerned Residents Clean Christiansted Town Using Their Own Tools, Money, and Some Help from the VI Fire Service

Territory May See Veterans Cemetery Through DeGazon-Sponsored Bill

Credit and Debit Cards of WAPA Customers Were Compromised Since August 30th, WAPA Says, Authority to Finally Start Issuing Notification Via Mail and Email

Sports Tourism in VI Gains Momentum as DC United Team is set to Play Exhibition Soccer Game on St. Croix

Carnival Breeze Brings 3,700 Tourists to St. Croix During Maiden Call; Senators, Tourism Officials Want to See More

Limetree Bay Willing To Provide $10 Million To Help Add Life to a Dying G.E.R.S.

American Airlines to Serve St. Croix With New Flights Next Summer

The Sudden Death of Influential Roots Reggae Visionary, Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite Band and Akae Beka, Has Rocked the Virgin Islands and Reggae Community Around the World

Arthur A. Richards K-8 School Hosts Anti-Bullying Campaign

Come Out. Hang Out. Have Fun at The Meat Up, One of St. Thomas’ Latest Hot-Spot for Good Food with Friends and Family.

UVI Board of Trustees Approves $47.1 Million Fiscal Year 2020 Budget; Sets $3 Million Fundraising Goal

Man Dies During Early Morning Car Accident on St. Croix; Driver of Car Arrested (Updated)

'You Did Everything You Could to Prevent this from Happening': An Emotional Goodbye to Young Aaron Benjamin

Back in Business: Cost U Less on St. Thomas Opened its Doors Friday to Thousands of Customers 2 Years after Irma and Maria

Bill Aimed at Regulating Credit Use by Gov't Departments and Agencies Among Others Held in Committee

Juan Luis Hospital Announces Completion and Availability of Mobile Dialysis Facilities

Tractor Trailer With Tank Carrying Thousands Of Gallons of Liquified Gas Flips Near Cool Out Bar; Driver Injured But Alive

Credit and Debit Card Hack Through WAPA Appears to be Widespread in Virgin Islands; WAPA Says Support Services Will be Made Available to Affected Customers

Facing Life in Prison Without Parole, Mother and Boyfriend Plead Not Guilty in Murder of 4-Year-Old Boy

Organization in St. John Accused Of Stymieing Development as Summer’s End Marina Project Gains Support From Lawmakers

Breaking News / Business / Environment / Featured / News / Top Stories / Virgin Islands / October 29, 2019

ST. JOHN — “We need to be mindful that environmental regulations can do two things: they can protect the environment — and that is the intent — but they can also be used by forces to marginalize indigenous people by using the very same regulations to oppose and prevent economic development. And we need to ensure that we move forward with sustainable development that would take into consideration the masses of the people of this territory.”

Those were the words of Senator Alicia Barnes during a daylong Committee of the Whole hearing in St. John on Monday to deliberate the Summer’s End marina project. The project, years in the making, has been stymied by some groups in St. John opposed to development of the marina, along with the project’s own proprietors for not moving quickly enough on changes to come into compliance with regulations, and adhering to some genuine concerns.

The Summer’s End project, whose official name is the St. John Marina, seeks to build roughly 144 parking areas for yachts, called wet slips, as well as a thriving commerce hub of retail outlets, restaurants and even condos. Yachts at the marina would be as long as 150 feet. The project is expected to help the St. John economy immensely and create well over 100 direct jobs and more indirect employment by invigorating other sectors of the overall St. John economy.

Senators expressed support for the project and assailed the St. John organizations opposing it, chief among them the Coral Bay Community Council and its president and executive director, Sharon Coldren. Ms. Coldren vehemently opposes the marina’s development, but Senator Kurt Vialet was not surprised.

“I will start with Ms. Coldren because I’ll give you an A+ today. A+ for always being against everything for St. John. So you are very consistent and I expected nothing less of you, and you proved me right,” Mr. Vialet chided. He questioned Ms. Coldren on a boat she owns that sits in the waters of Coral Bay, which Ms. Coldren said was badly damaged following Hurricane Irma. Mr. Vialet, however, said the boat was one of the “derelict” vessels polluting the territory’s waters.

“The issue I have, you come out as an environmentalist, both yourself and [David L] Silverman, but you are a convenient environmentalist. You’re an environmentalist when it’s against a project that you don’t want… But when the boats are in the harbor dumping everything, you come up with a scientific rationale as to how it’s not creating damage, despite the fact that you could just drive across Coral Bay and you could see the damage to the marina,” Mr. Vialet said.

During the Committee of the Whole, senators, including Ms. Barnes, encouraged Chaliese Summers, head of the Summer’s End Group, LLC, to work on addressing concerns from the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory arms. Mr. Vialet and other lawmakers also asked that indigenous families with stakes in the matter be dealt with fairly before the project moves forward.

But generally, lawmakers — eyeing the economic benefits to St. John from a state of the art, world class marina — were highly supportive of development.

Among them was Senator Steven D. Payne, an at-large lawmaker representing St. John, who emotionally assailed the organizations against the project for marginalizing St. John residents and for even placing animals ahead of humans in some instances.

“Over the past 20 years I’ve been working at Julius Sprauve School. I’ve taught just about every child that came through from Coral Bay,” Mr. Payne said. He then pointed to residents of St. John in the audience, and asked, “Residents of Coral Bay, how many of our children are working at Coral Bay? How many are business owners? How many are managers of companies?” Someone in the audience said, “none.”

Mr. Payne continued: “Ask yourselves. Twenty years. Nothing. We protest, and we protest, and we protest, and we protest, and we protest.” Mr. Payne was referring to organizations in St. John like the Coral Bay Community Council led by Ms. Coldren that have consistently opposed development. The senator mentioned a number of projects that were opposed including the Bellevue and Calabash Boom housing communities.

Mr. Payne said those against the Calabash Boom affordable housing project also protested the use of streetlights in the area to protect turtles, neglecting the human need for safety.

“There’s no streetlight in that community, so at nights it’s pitch black. Our children, if they have to go outside, they have to go outside in pitch darkness. The mothers and fathers who come home from work at night they have to come home in pitch darkness. You know why? Because the turtles nesting across the street. So when it came to our children and the mothers of St. John, we chose turtles over human beings,” Mr. Payne said.

Senator Janelle Sarauw questioned Ms. Coldren about the makeup of the council, to which she responded it had 450 members. Asked how many were indigenous St. Johnians, Ms. Coldren said, “Probably not very many.”

While no action was take on the Summer’s End Major Coastal Zoning Management permit, there was unity in the need to revisit it for a favorable vote.

“Let’s not kill the goose that may lay the golden egg,” Senate President Novelle Francis concluded.

Ernice Gilbert
I wear many hats, I suppose, but the one which fits me best would be journalism, second to that would be radio personality, thirdly singer/songwriter and down the line. I've been the Editor-In-Chief at my videogames website, Gamesthirst, for over 5 years, writing over 7,000 articles and more than 2 million words. I'm also very passionate about where I live, the United States Virgin Islands, and I'm intent on making it a better place by being resourceful and keeping our leaders honest. VI Consortium was birthed out of said desire, hopefully my efforts bear fruit. Reach me at [email protected].

Previous Post

Demolition and Modernization of some Schools in USVI to start by Summer 2020, D.O.E. Says; Residents Encouraged to Attend Planning Meetings

Next Post

Opinion |Domestic Violence Should Not Only be Remembered in October

Leave a Reply

More Story

Demolition and Modernization of some Schools in USVI to start by Summer 2020, D.O.E. Says; Residents Encouraged to Attend Planning Meetings

Crucians with a stake in public education have an opportunity to influence how hundreds of millions of dollars in federal...

October 29, 2019