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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 25, 2022


Gov. Charles Turnbull won’t sign on to a lawsuit aimed at blocking the National Park Service’s Christiansted parking lot project.
Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen filed suit in September against the Park Service’s plans to tear out a small parking area in order to build a park. She contends that the buildings that make up the Park Service’s Christiansted National Historic Site belong to the V.I. government.
Although District Court Judge Raymond Finch granted Hansen a temporary restraining order against the project, he later rescinded it, saying the senator didn’t have standing in the case. The judge did, however, give two extensions to Hansen and her lawyer, Amelia Joseph, to prove whether the local or federal government owns the property and to enlist Turnbull’s support.
But this weekend Turnbull said he would rather work with the Park Service outside the courtroom.
"I will not join Sen. Hansen in that lawsuit," said Turnbull. "The Park Service and this particular administration work very well together."
The Park Service plans to turn the asphalt area between the Scale House and the wall that surrounds the Post Office into a 4,200-square-foot lawn with an information kiosk, benches and palm trees.
Hansen claims that the property that the Park Service manages, which includes Fort Christiansvaern, the Scale House, Customs House and Steeple Building, is owned by the V.I. government. The Park Service disputes the claim.
Joseph has said she has historical documents that indicate the property belongs to the local government. She said deeds show that when Denmark transferred ownership of the Virgin Islands to the U.S. government in 1917 much of the property in question went to the municipal government.
Despite those claims, Turnbull said he would rather work with the Park Service than battle it in court.
"I’m pretty sure we can work something out with the Park Service in regard to St. Croix," he said. "The court should be the last place to go."
The new park project would complete the Park Service’s controversial move of April 1998 that turned the 70-space King’s Wharf lot into a grassy park. That project spurred similar protests from former Gov. Roy Schneider, who also claimed the V.I. government owned the property. He later backed off those claims.
Both Hansen and Schneider argued that downtown businesses would be hurt by the lack of parking. Christiansted National Historic Site Superintendent Joel Tutein, however, argued that most of the parking at the King’s Wharf lot was being used by employees and business owners.

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