76.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, November 30, 2023


For the first time in about a year, the Magens Bay Authority has a full board of directors. With the appointment of Dale Barry, Leo Francis and Katina Coulianos-Sell in February, the board again has the seven requisite members as set forth in the deed of conveyance giving Magens Bay to the people of the Virgin Islands in 1947 by Arthur S. Fairchild. The other four members are Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who as governor is automatically on the board, John Maduro, Chairman Edmund Penn and Aubrey Nelthropp, vice-chairman. Nelthropp said he has served on the board for 12 years. He guessed that Edmund Penn had served for more than 30 years.
And Penn verified that, saying when he retired from government 20 years ago he kept on working for the board.
The board is self-perpetuating, according to Bill Jowers, the authority's executive director. "That means board members can remain on the board for life," he said. Every six years, however, the board is reorganized, according to Jowers, who added the board carefully considers special skills, talents and interests of potential members — including willingness to serve.
Penn, who will be 81 in May, says he has served as chairman of the board for 12 years. "They keep re-electing me and I don't mind," he said.
The vacancies that were recently filled were due to death, relocation and illness, according to Nelthropp. He added the vacancies never created a problem since "we always had a quorum." A quorum is three people. Nelthropp said the board usually meets monthly, but only when necessary, he added. "The bay is so well-managed we usually don't have anything to talk about," Nelthropp said. "It's the best crew we've ever had. Do you believe only 18 people run that whole place?"
The arboretum at Magens Bay is named after Nelthropp's father, Alphonso Nelthropp, who worked for Fairchild for 30 years as an agriculturist, Nelthropp said. An entrance fee charged at the gate provides some revenue for the park. Other revenue comes from the government, according to Jowers. "It's sporadic," he said. "And it's a problem."
Jowers said though money is appropriated in the budget every year, the allotments do not arrive on a predictable basis.
According to Penn it has been three years since the Authority, which has an annual budget of $600,000, has received any money from the government.
"We've been self-supporting for the last three years," Penn said. Money to cover the approximately $600,000 annual budget comes from the gate and the concessions — most of whom pay a percentage of their gross sales as rent.
"So far, we're surviving," Penn added.
It was the mandate of Fairchild that the entry rate be as low as possible so that everyone could enjoy the beach, according to Penn.
"I encourages people to go down there and use the great resource we have in the Virgin Islands." Penn said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.