Open forum — St. Croix
I have covered most of the major issues affecting the ambience of the Town of Frederiksted. I will end with mentioning that The Brugal Company left the old rum factory in Est. LaGrange in excellent condition when they vacated the property. All buildings were inhabitable when the company left and would have made a beautiful Meeting Center for government functions. The endeavor the government chose to rent the property to about 10 years ago did not succeed and the property has been abandoned about 8 years. The windows have been removed (stolen?), a dog recently had to be rescued from a basement room (it took a week of listening to it bark to find it), three residential houses that were inhabitable are no longer so and trees are growing out of their roofs. There is a room with a large 10 ft hole in the floor. If an indigent person explores at night, they could fall to their death. The newly installed fencing that enclosed the property has fallen from the weight of vines and Tan Tan trees.
Why does the community continue to believe that young people will be nurtured in an environment where their civilization is crumbling before their eyes? They have poor school buildings and books and a staggering community environment, but we continue to hear that we need programs to help develop our young people into community stewards. This may be true but, there is no doubt that our lack of an evolving and fruitful community keeps educated, young adults from returning to our island home once they become fully mature adults in areas off-island where they settle to study or seek better employment opportunities. Consequently, they do not return to enhance the maturation of the Virgin Islands and, especially, St. Croix.
I would implore the citizens of the Town of Frederiksted, the Island of St. Croix and the entire Virgin Islands to reconsider our definition and view of “community” and what we expect young people to be stewards of as we allow our community to deteriorate steadily. What do they have to look forward to?
The Department of Tourism fervently promotes the historic qualities of both Frederiksted and Christiansted. Various groups offer tours of the towns, as cultural tourism, for visitors to St. Croix. Tourists would enjoy these tours more if the towns were clean and thriving; they would enjoy their visit more if the buildings were intact – as we all would. Why are we promoting continued decrepitude? We are reinforcing among ourselves that the deterioration of our community is acceptable and normal. We should be promoting growth, improvement and progress. In my eyes, the guidelines for historic preservation are not to reinforce slave-master mentality, but rather to maintain and preserve our African ancestors’ artisanal ,manual trade skills within the structure of modern mechanized trade skills: cultural and industrial archaeology. We should support the requirements and improve upon them as we progress. We tend to accept what the American system dictates without fighting for changes that are pertinent to our Caribbean environment. This should change. We are an unincorporated, American territory (a colony in the eyes of the United Nations). We are not an American state. Our climate, culture and laws cannot reflect that of America. We should learn to use American models to improve our local institutions not tear them down – fighting to amend Federal laws and regulations to reflect our cultural needs.
I am not sure how I can help the Town of Frederiksted remedy any of these weaknesses in our small town community. However, I find I have some time to try to help my community and Mr. Franklin of Our Town Frederiksted has agreed to aid me with certain aspects of advocacy work. There may come a time when I may speak with some in the community about issues I may be exploring. I have chosen to start with street cleaning and sewage outfall problems as environmental and health issues.
Let us all consider all these issues and collectively remedy them.
Always for the sake of the Community,
LeVelle T. Henry
Est. LaGrange, Frederiksted, St. Croix